Rodgers isn’t in anything like the same predicament. But the manager must take his share of the blame last night, not least by naming an unchanged side that included the slight Suso in midfield –the failure of the Spaniard to reappear for the start of the second half was sadly inevitable.
Suarez, one of very few positives for Liverpool, had angered Tony Pulis with a poor dive during the dreadful goalless draw between the sides at Anfield in October.
Yet there could have been no complaints when, after just 34 seconds, referee Howard Webb, of all people, pointed to the spot after Suarez was clearly tugged back by Ryan Shawcross having chased down a searching Skrtel pass, Gerrard then sending Asmir Begovic the wrong way from the spot.
Rodgers, though, will have been furious that Stoke were gifted a way back into the game in just the fifth minute.
It was a soft goal to concede too, Agger misdirecting his attempted headed clearance from a Shawcross punt and Skrtel then slipping to give Walters enough time to clinically pick his spot.
And it got worse for Liverpool seven minutes later. Jones was allowed to meet Glenn Whelan’s left-wing corner at the near post and his header beat the efforts of Glen Johnson to clear off the line.
Stoke then set about business as usual, pressing Liverpool high up the pitch and thumping long balls down the channels for Walters and Matthew Etherington to chase.
The latter prompted Pepe Reina into two decent saves, tipping over a fierce shot and later atoning for a poor clearance by smothering the unmarked winger’s far-post effort.
Liverpool were in danger of being bullied out of the match. But their response before the interval gave brief encouragement.
Both Shelvey and Suarez were let down by poor control when found free inside the area by Lucas and Suso respectively, while Stewart Downing twice created chances down the left wing, first dancing past Michael Kightly and cutting back for Gerrard to hit inches wide and then finding Suarez with a similar move only for the striker to snatch at the opportunity and fire high and wide.
The Uruguayan then came close either side of the break. A brilliant piece of skill saw Suarez lose Huth and smash a shot from the angle that was held by Begovic and then, two minutes after the restart, he struck the outside of the post after losing Shawcross to meet substitute Raheem Sterling’s cross.
But the game was over two minutes later. A long throw from Andy Wilkinson was flicked on by Jones and Walters was allowed time to chest the ball and volley brilliantly towards the top corner, Reina unable to keep the ball out.
That was that. Liverpool kept going but there was no real belief they could fight their way back into the game, Stoke happy to plug away at what they do best.
Not quite back to the drawing board for Liverpool. But it will feel like it this morning.
MAN OF THE MATCH. Luis Suarez. By far Liverpool’s most dangerous attacking threat