The sight of Cresswell's name on the teamsheet sent a shiver down my spine, again he gets on the pitch, again he starts an important Premier league game and again he failed to have any positive impact on the game whatsoever.
Cresswell's inclusion was part of a ploy to pack the midfield as Stoke opted for a 4-5-1 formation with Beattie as the lone striker and Cresswell playing on the left of the 5 in an attempt to track Glen Johnson. I can't remember Cresswell being anywhere near Johnson all night, Johnson scored and was also named Man of the Match on a night Potters fans would rather forget.
The inclusion of Cresswell on the left and Etherington on the right flumoxed most of us and despite Etherington's industry in winning a number of corners and free kicks it really didn't look a balanced midfield. Of course we were playing the runners up to the Premier League crown but the 4-0 win flattered Liverpool as we actually had more of the ball than the game 11 months earlier despite shipping 4 goals, and at times played a good few one touch passes but one thing again stood out for me and that is the number of players we have who are scared of the ball.
It was clear to see that the only players we have that have visible quality and actually look comfortable on the ball are Faye, Etherington and Fuller, if it goes anywhere near any of the other players, they genuinely look panicked and can't get rid of it quick enough, normally to an opposition player or the nice gentleman in the front row who shows a lot more eagerness to receive it than the player themself.
The lack of quality at times is frightening and we can't rely solely on set pieces and home form because we don't know when either will run out, in fact Lawrence's absence was felt most as we squandered free kick after free kick in an early spell of pressure in the second half.
We don't seem to have learned how to adapt to games and the inclusion of Cresswell was the most blatant illustration of this. We clearly had a gameplan but when it went out of the window in the 4th minute we kept to it, the same at 2-0, the same at 3-0 still one up front regardless, no plan B and no ideas and then the 4th went in.
There is a lot to do for Pulis, and we will have more of an idea on September the 2nd on how serious he is about us 'pushing on' and getting quality in - what worries me is we have had months to do this, yet still line up at Anfield with a Championship Striker playing on the left wing...
For the sake of our season and indeed our sanity, please sort this out Pulis....
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