By ESPNSTAR.com staff
The Reds went into this encounter full of confidence following their 4-0 win over Fulham during the weekend, and they started the game in blistering fashion, with striker Luis Suarez winning his side a penalty in the opening 30 seconds of the game after Ryan Shawcross aggresively tugged on his shirt in the box. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard confidently stepped, sent Begovic the wrong way and put his side in the lead with a well taken penalty.
Stoke soon responded in the 5th minute though, with Kenwyne Jones flicking the ball for Walters to sidefoot past Liverpool custodian Pepe Reina. Jones then turned from provider to scorer, heading in Glenn Whelan's corner from close range.
And the Potters doubled their advantage four minutes after half-time when Jones once again flicked the ball on for Walters, who expertly controlled the ball on his chest before volleying it into the top corner of the net.
Here, ESPNSTAR.com takes a look at the players who took to the field at the Britannia Stadium.
Asmir Begovic - 7
Begovic was kept well protected by his backline but he still did his job with the minimum of fuss and made several smart stops to deny Suarez from scoring. He showed excellent reading of the game and anticipation to intercept several passes, and dominated the area in his penalty box.
Geoff Cameron - 7
Cameron was given a stern test on the right by the combination of Sterling and Enrique constantly tearing down his flank and as a result, he was unable to venture forward and support his side's attack as much as he would possibly like. He was however, stable defensively and did not often get caught out of position.
Ryan Shawcross - 6.5
Usually the most reliable defender in Stoke's much vaunted defence, Shawcross made an uncharacteristic error early in the game by getting caught out of position to allow Suarez to run across him. The England international then tried to atone for his mistake by blatantly pulling Suarez's shirt, giving referee Howard Webb no choice but to award the penalty which Gerrard duly converted.
Robert Huth - 7.5
Going up against one of the trickiest strikers in the Premier League may intimidate some defenders, but Huth is not just any defender. The former Chelsea player has proved to be one of the most effective, but underrated, defenders in the league, and he shackled Suarez well for majority of the game, making several well-timed challenges to stop the Uruguayan from doing too much damage.
Andy Wilkinson - 7
Wilkinson had a good game for the Potters, although he was never really troubled down his flank. He did manage to bomb forward to support his side's attack but his final ball was often found wanting.
Michael Kightly (70' off) - 7
Kightly is one of the few technically proficient players in a Stoke side which places lots of emphasis on the physical attributes of a player. The 26-year-old's vision and passing range was evident in this game, as he strung the passes around and retained possession very well even when under pressure.
Steven Nzonzi - 6.5
Nzonzi did his part in helping his team to victory with a determined display in the middle of the park. He offered his defence sufficient protection and managed to halt Reds' counter-attacks on more than one occasion.
Glenn Whelan - 7.5
Whelan was commanding in midfield for the Potters and not only did his defensive duties well but managed to threaten Reina's goal as well. It was a gritty, battling display by the 28-year-old in the middle of the pitch and Pulis will be pleased with the Irishman's contribution.
Matthew Etherington (82' off) - 8
Etherington showed great industry down the left flank, supporting both his side's attack and defence in equal measure. The 31-year-old was one of the best players on the pitch, frequently sending in dangerous crosses into the box which had the Liverpool defence scrambling to clear and making a few important tackles in defence to stop the Reds' attack.
John Walters - 8.5
Walters may not be the most high-profile striker in the Premier League, but he certainly is one of the most talented. Strong, fast and skilful, Walters looked dangerous every time he was one the ball and gave the Liverpool defence a real test. It was no surprise that he finished the game with a well-taken brace. His first goal, a clinical finish past Reina after he was set free by Jones, was good, but it was nothing compared to his second, an ingenious volley into the top corner of the net.
Kenwyne Jones (78' off) - 8.5
Given the way Stoke play, Jones' incredible physical prowess allows him to serve as an effective conduit for their attack, and the 28-year-old's immense presence up front certainly disoriented Liverpool's backline. The former Sunderland player set up Walters to score with a brilliant flicked header, then gave his side the lead with a fantastic header at the near post to convert Whelan's corner. Jones was once again involved in his side's third goal, flicking the ball with his head for Walters to volley home.
Dean Whitehead (70') - 7
Whitehead was brought on as part of a tactical reshuffle by Pulis to protect his side's two goal lead, and the 30-year-old did admirably well in the relatively short time he was on, putting himself about and showing great energy to close down the Liverpool defence whenever he could.
Peter Crouch (78' on) - N/A
Ryan Shotton (82' on) - N/A
Pepe Reina - 6.5
His future at Liverpool might be under scrutiny after a series of underwhelming displays in goal, but the Spaniard gave everyone a timely reminder of his talent with a few good saves in the game. His superb reaction stop from Etherington's goalbound shot in the 22nd minute was world class, and there is no doubt he will have no problems finding suitors for his services in the transfer window should the Reds really decide to part ways with him.
Glen Johnson - 6.5
Much derided for being defensively suspect, Johnson did nothing to dispel the notion that he is not much of a defender as he is an attacker. The England international was often caught out of position with Stoke's long balls out from the back and needed his team-mates to cover for him on more than one occasion. Attacking wise, Johnson failed to provide any real penetration down the flanks and could not deliver any telling crosses into the box.
Jose Enrique - 7
Enrique has got to be one of the most improved players this season, but the former Newcastle player had one of his poorer games against Stoke, committing several silly errors during the game and conceded possession to Stoke too easily numerous times.
Martin Skrtel - 6.5
Although Skrtel did reasonably well for most of the game, it was his crucial slip in the fourth minute which allowed Walters to run free on goal unopposed after Jones had flicked the ball on for the 29-year-old to score Stoke's equalising goal.
Daniel Agger - 6
The 28-year-old who signed a new contract with the Reds in October had one of his rare off days at the back. Agger failed to deal with Jones' physical approach and allowed Walters' too much time and space to link up play with his midfield. The Danish international's mistake of not picking up the run of Jones during a corner led to Stoke's second goal. Rodgers will definitely be expecting more of the experienced defender.
Lucas Leiva (59' off) - 5
Lucas' lack of match practice was telling in this game. Although the Brazilian tried his hardest, he often found himself second best in the challenges, lacking that extra burst of pace which would have helped him make an interception or a tackle. It will take some time before he gets back to his best.
Steven Gerrard - 7
Is it any wonder that Rodgers expressed his intention to renew Gerrard's contract? The Liverpool captain led his team by example, working tirelessly to win the ball back when Stoke had possession and showing an eagerness to get into the box to support Suarez up in attack whenever he could. He never let his head drop and could be seen urging his team-mates on even till late in the game. He also showed excellent composure to convert his side's penalty despite being mercilessly heckled by the home crowd.
Jonjo Shelvey - 3
If Shelvey wants to prove to Rodgers that he deserves an automatic spot in the first-team, he will have to perform much better than what he showed against Stoke. The 20-year-old failed to get to grips with the physical and high-pressing approach Stoke took, giving away the ball carelessly in dangerous positions several times.
Suso (45' off) - 3
It was yet another poor showing by the young Spanish talent whose positive early season performances for the Reds are quickly becoming a fading memory. He was near anonymous in the time he was on the pitch and was deservedly taken off by Rodgers at the start of the second half.
Stewart Downing (77' off) - 6.5
Speculation over whether Downing would stay at Liverpool come the January transfer window hit fever pitch this week after the former Aston Villa player put in an excellent performance for the Reds against Fulham over the weekend, getting his first league goal and assist for the club in the process. And Downing certainly gave Rodgers food for thought about keeping the England international at the club with a hardworking, if unspectacular, shift on the right flank. The 28-year-old did not impress much offensively, but his defensive awareness helped limit Etherington's effectiveness.
Luis Suarez - 7.5
Love him or hate him, Suarez is one of the most skilful strikers in the world, and he certainly proved a handful for the Stoke defence throughout the game. In fact, he made his presence felt in the opening seconds of the game, making a smart run off the last line of the Stoke defence and forcing Shawcross to haul him down in the box for a penalty.
Raheem Sterling (45' on) - 6.5
Sterling failed to really make an impact when he came on although he did provide a more direct route of attack on the flanks for the Reds. His biggest contribution in the game was to find Suarez in the box early in the first half with a good cross - the Uruguayan almost scored with the chance, hitting the left post with a fierce shot.
Jordan Henderson (59' on) - 4
The jury is still out on whether Henderson has been a flop signing for Liverpool, but the former Sunderland player certainly did nothing to dispel the notion that his purchase was a mistake. Mediocre at best when the 22-year-old came on, he did not see much of the ball and only seemed willing to pass the ball sideways or back when he did get it.
Joe Cole (77' on) - N/A