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Liverpool 1-0 Stoke City: Four things we learnt

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Glen Johnson's brave 85th minute header gave Liverpool their first win in the Premier League since October 19, defeating Stoke City 1-0 at Anfield.

The Reds were coming off the back of three straight top flight defeats to Newcastle United, Chelsea and most-recently Crystal Palace, and the win against the Potters saw them rise to 11th in the table.

There were several key talking points following the win for Brendan Rodgers' side, and things that need to be considered ahead of the trip to Leicester on Tuesday night.

Mignolet performs

Since Simon Mignolet's move to Merseyside in the summer of 2013, he's not had the easiest of times, and been on the end of some high-profile mistakes.

The Belgian was at fault for Ludogorets' first goal on Wednesday night in the Champions League, when dreadfully spilling Marcelinho's effort and gifting Dani Abalo the simplest of tap-ins. It ultimately cost Liverpool two points and makes their game against FC Basel a must-win if they are to make it into the knock-out stages of Europe's elite competition.

It was another error from Mignolet and Kopites called for him to be replaced by Brad Jones in between the sticks for the game against Mark Hughes' men. However, Rodgers opted to keep the former Sunderland man in goal and believed he would come back stronger.

And the Northern Irishman was indeed correct.

Mignolet had a fairly quiet afternoon but produced when he needed to. He denied Mame Biram Diouf smartly in the second-half when making himself big and narrowing the angle for the Senegal international, and then made an outstanding stop to keep out Bojan's last-minute rocket that was heading into the top corner.

It was a bold performance from Mignolet, who has had plenty of critics going into the game and will have plenty of confidence going into the game against the Foxes on Tuesday night.

There's no doubt his place is still not 100% guaranteed, especially with speculation that Rodgers wants to draft in another goalkeeper in January, but, for now, Mignolet's place is safe.

Lambert gives Rodgers food for thought

Rickie Lambert sealed his dream move to the Reds in the summer, 17 years after being released by the club as a schoolboy.

He's had an extraordinary career, going from playing for Stockport County, to playing against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Since his £4.5 million switch to Anfield, Lambert had made just one start in the Premier League up to last weekend.

The 32-year-old was given the nod to lead the Liverpool front-line in last week's 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in the absence of Mario Balotelli and put in an eye-catching performance.

The Kirkby-native broke his duck for the Reds, netting in the second minute and doubled his tally in the 2-2 draw to Ludogorets midweek.

On Saturday, he almost made it three goals in seven days, when he met Jordan Henderson's cross with venom and saw his header crash against the crossbar, only for Johnson to meet the rebound.

It's clear that Lambert can score goals when given the opportunity and offers Liverpool an alternative style of play.

He too works much harder than Balotelli off the ball, really pushing himself to win the ball back for his team, and links up with his team-mates more fluently than the Italian.

Rodgers now has the task of deciding who to play when Balotelli returns from injury. The 41-year-old has preferred the former AC Milan man since his switch to Anfield in the summer, leaving Lambert watching from the side-lines and appearing most from the bench.

Based on talent, the nod is given to Balotelli, but Lambert has proved his passion can be invaluable and the Liverpool boss will have a headache when both are fit.

Gerrard could move into the 'Lampard role'

It was the 16th anniversary since Steven Gerrard made his first appearance for Liverpool.

Since then, we've saw him drag the Reds through thick and thin, capturing countless trophies including the Champions League in 2005.

However, the Liverpool skipper saw himself benched against Stoke, and brought into the game with just 20 minutes to play.

Prior to that, the 34-year-old had played every single minute in the Premier League this season, but with limited success.

In last week's game against Palace, Gerrard looked well of the pace of the game and offered little both going forward and defending.

He was played further afield against Ludogorets, but tired mid-way through the second-half and did not have the affect he had, had in the first period.

It seems that we could see starting less and less as the season goes on.

Frank Lampard, at the age of 26, has mastered his role of 'superb sub' to perfection these past few years.

He's come off the bench for both Chelsea and Manchester City and scored vital goals when using his experience to his benefit, and not having to worry about running his fuel tank down.

There's no doubt that Gerrard wants to play every game of the season, but, even he has to admit his body no longer allows him to do this. 

If he has to make substitute appearances on occasions for the benefit of his career and his team, all parties should be satisfied.

Things are getting better

Last season, Liverpool terrified teams on the attack with their quick passing and ability to counter-attack in a matter of seconds.

This has been virtually non-existent this term, with the Reds' build-up play being slow and frustrating to watch.

Albeit, Luis Suarez now plays his football at Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge has been niggled with several injury, however, it should never have changed the whole philosophy of football at Anfield.

The performance against Mark Hughes' men wasn't the best, and there is still plenty of room for improvement, however, there were signs that things are starting to click.

Raheem Sterling almost found the net straight after Diouf's shot was saved from Mignolet, with the attack coming from a quick counter. 

Joe Allen had an attempt he put just over the bar, created from a lovely bit of work on the left-hand side and Lucas should have scored when Sterling punished a loose ball and slotted the Brazilian in.

Liverpool had men attacking in numbers, something that has been severely lacking this term, and if the team can gel together, their efforts could carry on to improve.

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Topics:
Liverpool
Stoke City
Premier League
Football

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