I was quite surprised that we changed a winning side by dropping Liam and playing Diao – who had another uninspired game.. but it was the makeshift Right Back Huth that saved our blushes at the death to gain a point, or was it two points dropped? As one poster on one of the Stoke forums said, ‘we played the badge and not the team’ – Liverpool were utterly depleted and were there for the taking, this was very much an opportunity missed.
Manager Rating – 4 – Changing a winning side and regressing to hoofball was very disappointing from Pulis. I was even happy to keep Sidibe in following the Fulham game, but putting Delap on the right, in addition to 2 other defensive midfielders choked us from before the whistle even went for Kick Off.
Sorensen – 5.5 - There’s been a lot said (allegedly) by the Great Dane, but recent assurances over his happiness were well received, a rousing reception was given to our Tommy and we looked a lot more assured, so much more comfortable than when Simmo played last week. That said, his handling for the Liverpool goal was poor, yet surprisingly he didn’t seem to think he did anything wrong.. add to that some poor and often unnecessary kicking and his score comes down even further.
Huth – 7 - Not the best game from the big fella, and I still think he makes a better Centre Half, as indeed he proved in the reshuffle, but his contribution at the death ensured a point for us – I much prefer him in the middle and once again the player himself re-iterated that was his best position, was Pulis listening though?
Shawcross – 7 – Good to see Ryan back in the side, and another solid performance, seemed at ease next to Huth as well as Faye, which shows just how far he has come on in the last year or so.
Faye – 7 – We’re getting there, slowly starting to look like the player of last season, but still not quite there, looked assured until his injury forced him off. I hope the big man isn’t out for too long though we have an able deputy in Huth so I’d rather he wasn’t rushed back
Higginbotham – 6.5 – Higgy, Higgy, Higgy…an excellent flick on for Huth’s goal but not the best game on Saturday. I know we were playing long ball but the amount of times Etherington was showing for the ball only to have it lumped over his head straight back to Liverpool was embarrassing and had that penalty been given…
Delap – 6 – Please, please, please stop playing Rory on the wing, it doesn’t work!! I think the rationale was that Rory’s bombs would cause more grief for Liverpool than Liam’s deliveries, and I guess we’ll never know as the human sling had to withdraw with a calf strain forced him off. Delap back into the middle please Pulis, at the expense of Diao..
Diao – 6 – An average game from Salif, doesn’t have much of an impact and is doing the same job as Whitehead, and with Delap on the right struggled further still. I say it every time, he’s not consistent enough performance or fitness wise to be considered in a settled midfield, I think Sal’s time has passed..
Whitehead – 7.5 – Man of the Match - Another steady game for Whitehead continuing his good run of late, he wasn’t helped in the slightest by having to play next to Diao and his game visibly suffered as a result. Let’s hope Pulis is on the phone to a playmaker as we speak to play alongside the revitalised Deano – I can but dream..
Etherington – 6.5 – Poor Matty was feeding off scraps, it looked promising the first time he ran at Carragher as he destroyed him, unfortunately that was the first and last time he did as Liverpool wised up and Higgy started to hoof the ball over the diminutive winger’s head
Sidibe – 4 – As I said above, I was perfectly happy to see Mama played again after the Fulham game but considered we built the whole game plan around him he was woeful, I can’t remember him winning more than 2 headers all afternoon, his starting position just seemed wrong, he was so static and the sub 6ft Greek marking him was winning every header..that didn’t stop us lumping it up to him time after time though. A Mama with goals is required please Mr Pulis if you insist on keeping this tactic..
Tuncay – 6 – Tried his hardest but still injured from the Fulham game, won more headers than Sidibe due to intelligently timed runs and jumps but largely ineffective due to the awful tactics deployed on the day, when he did get the ball he was invariably in the channels and isolated. If he is still not 100% I would rather we didn’t risk him in the cup.
Wilkinson – 7 – Wilko did well when he came on, as did Huth when he moved into his more natural position. He is making some intelligent runs though still suffers with his distribution – at least he is trying though, well done Wilko
Lawrence – 5 – The Lawrence enigma continues, he was very poor today, I don’t know if it is a case of him trying too hard but his passing is very sloppy and often wayward at times, a fit and firing Lawrence is a big bonus for the team and gives great balance, but his lack of time on the pitch and lack of results when he gets the chance means the midfield, and the team as a whole, suffer..
Fuller – 7 – What a difference when this man is on, it’s clear to everyone watching that as soon as Ric comes on the ball sticks to him and we stay further up the field, I really do think he and Tunny should get more time together as Sidibe wasn’t winning any headers when he was on, nor working as hard as that position ordinarily dictates. Talk of Fuller leaving fills me with dread, there is no player like him and when he isn’t on the pitch it’s frightening how ordinary we can look..