Seventy-seven days had passed since Liverpool last found themselves in Stoke-on-Trent. As Brendan Rodgers’ new-look team, including four summer signings, arrived at half-time with the match goalless after being on the back-foot for the majority of the first period and failing to register a shot on target, they had immediately outperformed their last trip to the Britannia Stadium.
That day at the end of May, Steven Gerrard’s last for his hometown club, saw the Reds 5-0 down at half-time on their way to a comprehensive 6-1 battering, a chastening afternoon that looked to have consigned Brendan Rodgers to the sack following a miserable run of form.
Fast forward to a hot summer’s day in Staffordshire and Liverpool banished the demons of last season’s denouement. A game that meandered through nothingness, which did little to suggest the manager had found a new formula for success, was brought to life in the 86th minute by a Philippe Coutinho wondergoal.