Liverpool overcame a sluggish start and an early deficit to run out convincing 4-1 winners in the end. Stoke’s directness caused them some initial problems, but eventually the Reds’ attacking quality wore down the visitors, and the margin of victory could have been even greater in the end.
Good performances all over the park and a first Premier League goal of the season for Daniel Sturridge less than a minute after coming off the bench.
The goal conceded was poor and came during a wobbly period in which Stoke easily could have added another. It didn’t prove costly this time, but the Reds will need to be fully switched on for 90 minutes in their next game, because Manchester City are a much more dangerous opponent than Stoke.
Manager rating out of 10
Jurgen Klopp, 7 — The first-half performance was patchy, but Klopp made some adjustments at half-time and Liverpool completely dominated the second period. His introduction of Sturridge also paid immediate dividends.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Simon Mignolet, 7 — It’s perhaps fair to wonder whether he could have kept out Jonathan Walters’ close-range header, but others were equally culpable on that goal. He made a great save to deny Joe Allen a goal on his Anfield return and was generally assured and confident in everything else he did.
DF Nathaniel Clyne, 7 — Energetic and efficient as ever down the right flank. Not overly tested defensively but was up to the task when required. Got forward well and played his part in a good team performance.
DF Dejan Lovren, 7 — He was suspect positionally on the Stoke goal as he allowed Walters to get in front of him, but the Croatian was dominant after that, especially in the second half when he was outstanding. Stood firm in some one-vs.-one situations, and some of his passing was excellent too.
DF Ragnar Klavan, 7 — Does his job to a high standard with a minimum of fuss, which is just what you want from a centre-back really. He made one crucial block to deny Erik Pieters.
DF James Milner, 8 — Outstanding once again in everything he did. He created a goal for Roberto Firmino and seemed to be involved in every attack. He was strong defensively too and was still marauding forward even in stoppage time. His energy levels are incredible. He might even be Liverpool’s best left-back since Steve Nicol.
MF Jordan Henderson, 8 — The latest in a long line of highly accomplished displays from the captain, who seemed to be everywhere, making tackles and interceptions and linking the play intelligently. He had a hand in the all-important third goal when he resisted the urge to shoot and took the right option of feeding Divock Origi instead. One raking pass he pinged out to Clyne soon after was as good as any you’ll see this season.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 7 — Something of an unsung hero in the middle of the park, he does a lot of the fetching and carrying that allow others to shine. Another good outing for the Dutchman.
MF Adam Lallana, 8 — His ability to continually make runs beyond the forwards makes him incredibly difficult for defenders to pick up, and it was from one of those charges into the penalty area that he was able to fire in the equaliser from a tight angle. Outstanding again; it’s a mark of how important he is that he was replaced after 70 minutes to keep him fresh for the upcoming fixtures.
FW Sadio Mane, 7 — Not his finest performance but Mane still managed to cause Stoke plenty of problems and would have had a goal if Stoke midfielder Giannelli Imbula hadn’t beaten him to Origi’s cross and put the ball in his own net.
FW Divock Origi, 8 — Didn’t get the goal his performance deserved but there was a lot to like about the young striker’s display. Origi linked up very well with his fellow forwards, and his movement made it difficult for Stoke’s central defenders, who didn’t know whether to follow him out wide or pass him on. With Mane set to miss a number of games due to the African Cup of Nations, the Belgian’s pace and goal threat will be vital in the coming weeks.
FW Roberto Firmino, 7 — Bounced back from a troubled week off the field with a fine performance on it. Worked tirelessly, was heavily involved in most good things Liverpool did and scored a fine goal to put his side into the lead.
FW Daniel Sturridge, 8 — Scored almost immediately after coming on when he latched onto a poor back pass and coolly rounded the keeper before rolling the ball into the empty net. The England man looked razor-sharp, and his return to fitness could not have come at a better time for Klopp with the games coming thick and fast.
MF Emre Can, 7 — Enjoyed a lively cameo after replacing Lallana.
FW Alberto Moreno, NR — Not for the first time, Klopp sent the Spanish defender on in a forward role and as he tends to do, the enthusiastic Moreno got himself heavily involved and almost got on the score sheet.
Dave Usher is one of ESPN’s Liverpool bloggers and the founder of LFC fanzine and website The Liverpool Way. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.