Liverpool hoped to bounce back from the heartbroken draw vs Blackburn, but they would be missing Suarez, their leading league goalscorer. Bellamy and Downing played on two flanks to supply crosses for Andy Carroll, the former Magpies striker. Spearing started as the holding midfielder, with Steven Gerrard on the bench. Jose Enrique also played against his former team.
Newcastle ended their recent slump with a 2-0 victory over Bolton. Alan Pardew made only one change to the lineup. Attacking midfielder Haris Vuckic was given his second start of the season, joining a 5-men midfield to support the in-form striker Demba Ba. Ben Arfa, Leon Best and the Ameobis provided plenty of attacking options on the Newcastle bench.
Play of the Game
Liverpool: Steven Gerrard capped a brilliant play in the 77th minute with his second league goal of the campaign. Henderson received Spearing’s pass from the left, and laid the ball to the penetrating Gerrard. It was not the best first touch by the captain, but he still managed to send the ball past Tim Krul with his left foot to secure the lead.
Newcastle: Demba Ba finally broke through the Liverpool defense in the 69th minute. He received a through pass from Cabaye and cleverly chipped the ball past Reina, but only saw his effort saved at goal line by Skrtel.
- Newcastle led through a lucky goal when Cabaye’s header deflected off Agger’s arm. It seemed to have brought Newcastle back to life, but a quick response from Craig Bellamy restored Liverpool’s control of the game.
- Downing gained the upper hand over Ryan Taylor. After interval, Alan Pardew decided to take off the full back, who was booked and slightly injured. The more defensive David Santon had quieted Downing in the 2nd half.
- Steven Gerrard came in for the disappointing Charlie Adam in the 58th minute. He provided the quality crosses Liverpool had been missing in the 1st half and made Andy Carroll a real threat, with the best chance coming off the target man’s forehead, but only to be denied by the woodwork.
- In the 66th minute, Liverpool won a free kick after a dubious foul called on Tiote. Danny Simpson was trying to be clever, following Kyle Walker’s move to protect the near post, but only attracted Carroll to physically distract Tim Krul. Ultimately it was Simpson getting into the way of Bellamy’s shot and led to the goal.
- Williamson and Krul had nearly made the loss at Anfield even more embarrassing, when they couldn’t deal with a long clearance to Carroll in injury time; Downing had blasted the loose ball straight into the stand though.
Vuckic was hit in the face by Glen Johnson’s clearance and raced towards the sideline. The ball fell to Jonas, which eventually passed to Ryan Taylor who crossed and brought Newcastle the lead. Vuckic was certainly overjoyed with his physical contribution as he held up his fist passionately to celebrate the goal.
Kenny Dalglish employed the right game plan. Liverpool dominated the midfield and posed threat by delivering crosses from both flanks, but it was not until Gerrard came in that they started to look more threatening. Suarez’s absence is still worrying, as the only weapon Liverpool has at the moment is pumping the ball onto Carroll, who always suffers from poor first touches. Spearing and Downing enjoyed a sweet night, but Henderson had still not lived up to expectation.
Pardew and his Newcastle side might have been disillusioned by the draw at Old Trafford. They don’t have the mentality to play defensive football at all. The midfielders were very sluggish before the goal. The full backs could not handle threat from the flanks. Obertan’s reluctance to track back imposed extra pressure on Simpson. Demba Ba could hardly challenge Liverpool’s defense alone. Tiote was the only bright spot of the night. With Manchester United visiting next week, Pardew has to quickly sort out the balance of the formation. They surely play more comfortably with an attacking approach.
Best Performer of the Game
Steven Gerrard. He had stolen Bellamy’s show. The Welshman did score twice to help Liverpool overcome a one-goal deficit, but it’s the captain who made a real impact. HIs lively performance off the bench had changed the game momentum and he finished off the day with an excellent goal.
Who could do better?
Yohan Cabaye. He had struggled to follow the quick pace of this classic matchup. Although involved in the goal, Cabaye had been far from constructive and failed to orchestrate the offence. Things could have been worse when he should be sent off for a dangerous tackle on Spearing early in the 2nd half.
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