It’s back and better than ever! Possibly.
Oh we’ve missed you, Premier League football. We’ve tried to be brave and pretend we can live without you, but we really can’t. Things got so bad over the summer that we even started to follow baseball. It wasn’t good.
If Sky Sports clobbering you over the head with David Beckham ads every four seconds wasn’t enough of a clue, the season starts today and we’ve got a cracker … well … potential thriller … emmm … exhibition of silky skills … wow, this is tough. Well, it’s a game of football between Liverpool and Stoke and because you might be out and about, away from a TV or just extremely confused as to why you’ve to pay even more money to watch sports channels that you thought you were already paying for, I’ll be here to keep you up to date on all the latest happenings.
It may not be the best or even entertaining, but it comes with a heavy dose of cynicism and gets the job done. Much like Stoke’s football really.
LIVERPOOL 1-0 STOKE – BET NOW
2.36pm: FULL TIME! Liverpool hang on. It feels weird to say hang on when they were so dominant, but Stoke caused problems. Great start to the season in terms of entertainment, even allowing for Michael Owen’s commentary.
2.33pm: CHANCE! Coutinho has a shot from outside the box, but it’s deflected and goes out for a corner.
One minute of added time to play.
2.30pm: SAVED! Pepe who?! Mignolet makes a cracking save down low to his right to deny Walters from the spot. The stats show that’s the Irishman’s preferred corner. Amd he even followed it up with a block on the rebound. Super stuff.
2.28pm: PENALTY! Handball against Agger. No argument, stupid stuff from Agger who tries a moment of volleyball.
2.27pm: Liverpool players are – almost, but not quite literally queuing up for a shot at Begovic. No-one actually manages one however.
2.25pm: Liverpool break but a crappy pass from Sturridge to play Henderson in means Stoke manage to get it away.
2.22pm: SUB! Last roll of the dice for Sparky. Peter Crouch comes off and Kenwyne Jones is the big man they’ll be trying to hoof it towards for the last 10 minutes.
Charlie Adam tries to lob Mignolet from the half-way line and although it never looks that threatening, the Belgian is forced to tip it away for a corner.
2.20pm: GREAT SAVE! It’s only the first game of the season, but we might be seeing the goalkeeping display of the season. Begovic keeps out a long range Steven Gerrard free-kick that was heading for the top corner and follows that up by blocking an Agger chance from the corner.
2.17pm: YELLOW CARD! Kolo Toure goes into the book for a late tackle on Pieters. Thankfully, it’s such a fair cop that we don’t need Mark Halsey to walk us through it.
Sterling does well to carve out a shot, but his pull back is cut out by a stoke defender.
2.13pm: SUB! A promising debut from Aspas comes to an end and Raheem Sterling replaces him.
Michael Owen calls him ‘a real weapon’. In terms of Sterling’s potential to cause injury, he’s probably spot on.
2.12pm: Wilson has a shot. Mignolet saves it without the need to have every Liverpool fan in the world screaming in terror.
2.10pm: Straight from the ‘we bought the technology, now we’re going to use it’ files, BT Sport use Hawkeye to confirm a shot that didn’t go in, didn’t go in. Cool – jut glad we cleared that one up.
2.09pm: Stoke legs flail around the Liverpool penalty area. The ref gives a free-kick in host’s favour, but Steven Gerrard is down injured.
2.07pm: Michael Owen commentaries need to come with a smugness warning. He was the greatest player ever according to himself.
2.06pm: SUBS! Stoke make changes and they break out the Liverpool rejects. Charlie Adam and Jermaine Pennant come on to provide the … well … less hoofish football. Glenn Whelan and Matthew Etherington are hauled off.
2.05pm: GREAT SAVE AND WOODWORK! Begovic is playing a stormer. He gets the faintest of fingers on another Henderson shot and gets it onto his right hand post. It looks in, but runs clear.
2.02pm: CHANCE! More work for Begovic, this time Sturridge shots from a tight angle and the keeper bats it out of play.
From the corner, Aspas gets a header on the cross and it gets the crowd more excited than it’s accuracy deserved.
Michael Owen points out ‘it’s probably the first time a Liverpool player has got on the end of a set piece’. Yeah Michael – apart from that Toure header that crashed off the crossbar. And the Sturridge offside goal very nearly put Liverpool ahead. Playing a stormer, Mr. Owen.
1.55pm: CHANCE! Cracking save from Begovic. Coutinho tees up Henderson via a bad touch from Sturridge. Henderson is 13 yards out and he tries to find the left hand side of the goal. Begovic sticks out an arm and gets it clear.
1.54pm: Geoff Cameron went flying into the Liverpool fans, but sadly not in an Eric Cantona’s kung fu sort of way. That’s pretty much all that’s happened in the last five minutes.
1.49pm: GREAT CHANCE! This time Coutinho has the opportunity. He bursts into the box and tries to curl a finish around Begovic. It goes wide and Michael Owen launches into some more ‘I woulda done better’ stuff.
1.48pm: AHHHH! Turns out all is right with the world. Stoke DID pick up the first booking of the new season. It went to Steve N’Zonzi rather than Lucas as BT Sport previously said.
1.47pm: Stoke get the second half underway, still looking like giants against munchins.
1.39pm: ‘It’ll be interesting to hear what David James has to say’ says Steve McManaman. That’s a lie and you know it Steve.
1.31pm: HALF TIME! Cracking first half at Anfield. Liverpool playing the better football, but Stoke are being as nagging and effective as ever. Good stuff. I’m going to get some lunch, so hit me up in the comments section of anything funny happens. This saves me the hassle of typing out the odds:
HALF TIME: Liverpool 1-0 Stoke. It's now 1/10 Liverpool, 6/1 the draw and 33/1 Stoke. http://t.co/FIeDM7SvEk
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) August 17, 2013
1.30pm: OFF THE LINE! Benefiting from a corner they shouldn’t have got, Stoke go close to an equalizer. Shawross stabs the ball goalwards and Lucas is there to clear it off the line.
1.29pm: YELLOW CARD! It’s the first booking of the season and it DOESN’T go to a Stoke player. Lucas is the culprit and it’s deserved.
1.27pm: GREAT SAVE! Mignolet has looked more questionable than a Frankie Boyle joke so far, but he pulls off a cracking full length save to stop a Walters half volley from the edge of the box.
1.26pm: The Sturridge goal in it’s GIF glory, courtesy of @FeintZebra:
1.22pm: GOAL! 1-0 LIVERPOOL! It’s been coming and Daniel Sturridge is the man to deliver. From about 22 yards out, he hits a low shot that sneaks past Begovic and nestles into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. Lovely goal and just rewards for a good start by Liverpool.
1.21pm: CHANCE! Begovic is seeing more action than Lindsay Lohan’s legal team. Sturridge has a shot saved.
1.19pm: CHANCE! Again it’s Coutinho pulling the strings and again Liverpool waste the chance. Jordan Henderson is played in about 14 yards out, but Begovic is out quickly and blocks the shot.
Clever play from Henderson to do nothing for 35 minutes in the hope Stoke would forget he was on the pitch.
1.17pm: Michael Owen’s not getting much love on Twitter, but on the plus side, we may have stumbled upon a way of educing a coma without the need for drugs.
1.13pm: CHANCE! Some silky passing from Liverpool creates a chance for Jose Enrique five yards out. Begovic closes him down, gets it clear and Owen has another chance to remind everyone how great a goalscorer he was with a ‘I would have dinked it over him’ line.
1.11pm: Ian Darke consults Mark Halsey AGAIN. 25 minutes in and this isn’t getting old at all.
1.07pm: Coutinho has a shot form outside the box, but it’s overly ambitious goes high into the stands and Michael Owen gets the chance to be all smug and give the impression he would have done better.
1.05pm: Half chance that should have been a full chance for Liverpool. Coutinho has a great chance to play Aspas in. He does play him in, but not with an ideal pass and the debutant stabs a tame shot at Begovic.
1.02pm: Hughes hasn’t changed Stoke that much. The players look as comfortable with the ball as Michael Barrymore does around a swimming pool.
12.57pm: CROSSBAR! AGAIN! This time it’s Liverpool who hit the woodwork. Kolo Toure gets on to the end of a corner and powers a header off the bar. Another set piece eh? I can see why the nickname Michael ‘Nostradamus’ Owen never stuck.
Sturridge gets played in but Begovic does enough to put him off and his cross gets cleared.
12.56pm: GOAL! BUT IT’S OFFSIDE Seconds after hearing how Michael Owen thinks Liverpool won’t get any joy from set pieces, Daniel Sturridge heads into the net. He strayed marginally into an offside position however and it gets chalked off.
What won’t get chalked off however is Owen’s shite prediction about Liverpool not getting much joy from set pieces.
12.53pm: WOODWORK! Robert Huth thunders a volley off the Liverpool crossbar. I’m not saying it was Mignolet’s fault, but he would have been credited with the assist thanks to a poor punch. Not a confident moment from Liverpool’s new keeper.
12.50pm: Good start from Liverpool. My early unofficial possession stats are: LFC 99.99% – Stoke 00.01% (figures are approximate)
12.45pm: Liverpool kick off, wearing red. BT Sport have a live referee analyst – wow. Now we know where those subscription fees are going – Mark Halsey’s pocket.
12.42pm: The teams are out on the pitch doing their pointless handshakes. We’ve finally got this ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ Jake was banging on about. The Stoke fans do their best to disrupt it, but the Anfield DJ just turns the volume up a bit.
12.40pm: Can just imagine the half-time analysis if it’s a slow first half:
JAKE: It’s been dull, sluggish and neither team has really left their own half.
TONY PULIS: I know, it’s beautiful *wipes tear away from his eye*
12.35pm: Andy Gray has told us what he makes of Sataurday’s Premier League matches, but don’t worry, I’ve taken out all the waffle and misogyny and turned it into this bite-sized treat.
12.32pm: Brendan Rodgers just got interviewed. He didn’t say anything especially interesting. He did say Kolo Toure is ‘looking really fit’, which suggests he’s thinking about someone else.
12.28pm: Luis Suarez doesn’t want to be bothered. That’s why he turned up on match-day. Even though he’s not playing. With his child. And got a security escort. Leave him alone people, he just wants the quiet life.
12.25pm: WOW! Is that BT Sport or Tomorrow’s World circa 1989? They’ve got a pitch, but it’s inside and numbers on it!! In a second, Michael J Fox pops out on a hover-board.
12.20pm: Mark Hughes is being interviewed now and he laments having to disappoint so many players by leaving them out for the first game of the season. Now that’s done, it’s on to the task disappointing anyone who enjoys good football.
12.18pm: It’s all well and good slagging Michael Owen, but I’m contractually obliged to try and sell you stuff. Don’t worry – this one is good. It’s about our great Money-Back Special this weekend. If the favourite doesn’t win, we’ll refund losing First Goalscorer, Last Goalscorer, Correct Score and Scorecast bets!
12.11pm: In a major surprise to everyone, Michael Owen’s BT Sport ad wasn’t incredibly irritating or smug. In fact, it’s quite funny. Here it is if you missed it:
12.09pm: TEAM NEWS!
It turns out people do give a shit about the Stoke team. For his first competitive game in charge, Mark Hughes hasn’t really messed with the Pulis formua. Erik Pieters makes his debut, but other than that it’s all very Stoke-y.
Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters, Whelan, Nzonzi, Palacios, Walters, Crouch, Etherington
12.05pm: Jake Humphrey got to hang around Brendan Rodgers’ office at Melwood during the week and while he was trying to be quite jovial, Rodgers wasn’t really up for the craic. He’s too intense for that. Look how intense he is:
12pm: BT Sport are interviewing Simon Mignolet and have revealed that he speaks five languages. But ‘only if you include Flemish’ he points out, ‘it’s kind of like Scottish’. Wow, I never realised that Belgians needed 48 different ways to say ‘booze’ too.
11.57am: Sky Sports News get a bit excited as they reveal that Luis Suarez has just walked on to the Anfield pitch with his daughter. They’re reporting that the fans in the ground gave him rather a warm welcome. All 12 of them currently in the ground.
11.50am: TEAM NEWS!
Clearly full of first day of school enthusiasm, Brendan Rodgers has already named his team and it features debutants and alongside some familiar faces, which sound like news, but really isn’t. Aspas, Mignolet and Toure all start and they’ll play with eight other players. Suarez is still suspended for his Dracula moment by the way.
Mignolet, Johnson, Toure, Agger, Enrique, Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Aspas, Sturridge
No-one seems to give a shit about the Stoke team.