Stoke left Anfield with a point and a £25,000 fine in the post from the Football Association after collecting six bookings. Though Liverpool rallied after a poor start, with Skrtel striking the frame in the final seconds and his team-mates controlling the play in the second half, they never convinced that victory was within them.
Injury cost Michael Owen a place in the squad and Anfield an opportunity to bait their former striker but another ex-Liverpool player almost made an impact with the game's first chance.
Charlie Adam seized on a back pass from Nuri Sahin after the on-loan midfielder found himself with few options when collecting a short goal-kick from José Reina. The Liverpool goalkeeper, under orders to play his way out from the back, smothered Adam's shot at close range.
That moment again demonstrated how Rodgers's instructions remain a work in progress and how, by pressing the Liverpool midfield when Reina takes possession, their play can be easily disrupted. It was repeated when Steven Nzonzi intercepted another Reina clearance – seconds after being told by Pulis to "get on Sahin" – and Michael Kightly sent a first-time chip over the Liverpool keeper. Reina redeemed himself once more with a fine tip over.
Pulis's team were on the back foot throughout the second half and Glen Johnson twice went close to opening the scoring, the first from distance saved by Asmir Begovic and the second more inviting when sent clear by Steven Gerrard's pass only for him to loft his effort over. Raheem Sterling side-footed against the outside of a post and Luis Suárez shot inches wide after a good run.
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