Five things learned from Liverpool's 1-0 win over Stoke: Lucas, Sterling & Toure feature

Lucas Leiva

Five conclusions from the Reds' tense win over Stoke City at Anfield.

A tale of two halves

The first half of Liverpool's 1-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday afternoon was one of the most instantly forgettable in recent memory. Neither side created any chances, neither side looked confident on the ball and neither side looked as though they'd realised over 40,000 supporters had paid to watch a football match.

But things changed drastically for Liverpool in the second half. Credit must be given to both Brendan Rodgers and the players, as several from the Anfield outfit showed more desire than they have all season. The Reds looked like they were finally playing for the shirt.

Starting Lucas & Allen is asking for a 0-0 draw

And it was no coincidence that Liverpool looked far stronger going forward after Steven Gerrard had replaced Lucas, with Glen Johnson eventually scoring a late winner.

There have been cries for Lucas Leiva to play in holding midfield for some time now but he failed in the big moments today. Starting both Lucas and Joe Allen, meanwhile, is asking for a 0-0 draw.

Many fans believe the defensive midfielder played well and that is certainly true as a reflection of his overall performance. But, when it mattered most, Lucas was poor defensively, letting Bojan Krkic slip past him without a fight before the Stoke forward hit the post, while Liverpool's two best chances fell to the Brazilian, who produced a shocking finish, and Allen. After Gerrard came on, the Reds were far better going forward and ultimately won all three points. Lucas played well on the whole but needs to show a little more concentration in the key moments.

Keep Lovren out

At the back, meanwhile, Kolo Toure was absolutely superb. And one of Rodgers' biggest regrets will surely be that he dropped Toure after his display against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Why on Earth did he do it!?

There is no place for Dejan Lovren in the Anfield side's starting XI at this rate, with the Ivorian now impressing on a regular basis.

Can Sterling keep it up?

Another impressive performer on the day was Raheem Sterling, who still looks a class above many of his fellow forwards despite being far from at his best. The 19-year-old created numerous chances today and almost scored, too.

The question is: can Sterling keep it up? The young forward has fluctuated this season, threatening to reproduce his form of yesteryear at times and failing to exert any influence on the game at others. More displays like this, though, and Sterling will soon be back on song for good.

Liverpool must build at Leicester

One of Liverpool's biggest failings this campaign, however, has been to rest on their laurels after a positive result. After beating West Brom 2-1, the Reds went missing again. After a strong performance at the Bernabeu, Rodgers' men floundered in the following weeks.

Finally achieving a win has created a wonderful sense of relief around Anfield and really lifted the Kop. But beating Stoke at home is a minimum requirement - and so is getting a result at Leicester City on Tuesday night.

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