Friday 30 December 2011 3pm
Watch match highlights here 

Liverpool 3
Newcastle United 1 (Agger og 25)

With the scousers having drawn 6 out of 9 home games there was no need to come here expecting to lose.

Yes it was always going to be a tough match but the worst case scenario is when you end up beating yourselves.

Predictably Liverpool came out all guns blazing but without Suarez it was largely a of perspiration without inspiration. In fact over the whole match I can’t recall Krul actually making a proper save.

Twenty five minutes gone and in a rare foray up front, Vuckic took a ball in the face which rebounded out to the left. Ryan Taylor put it into the box where Cabaye’s glancing header deflected in off Agger with Reina wrongfooted.

Only minutes later, home pressure led to the ball being put into our box several times with Tiote only able to divert the ball out to the edge of the box where Bellamy slotted it into the corner which Williamson had just vacated.

The big centre-back had a very decent match and kept Carroll quiet most of the time, although later on the ponytailed one thudded a header against the bar, though in fairness it was a very good Gerrard cross which was hard to defend.

Alan Pardew had sprung a surprise and to be honest Vuckic just wasn’t up to it, rarely touching the ball and giving Ba next to no support.

Half-time did see a change but it was Santon for Ryan Taylor, our scouser having been very average and possibly ending the half injured whereas his replacement looked very much the part.

Tiote and Cabaye had been excellent but only a minute after Ben Arfa had belatedly replaced Vuckic we were behind. An excellent Tiote challenge 30 yards out was mistakenly (according to tv replays) given as a free-kick and as Bellamy measured up to suit, Danny Simpson started running back towards the goal line.

Fair enough maybe on the edge of the box (though I still don’t like it as I think for whatever benefit there may be it gets in the way of the keeper more) but 30 yards out? You can guess the rest, a bog standard Bellamy free-kick is chipped towards goal and Simpson ends up getting in Krul’s way, 2-1 and game over, probably.

Shame was that up until that point Newcastle had started well in the second period, retaining the ball a lot better and having superior possession.

Ten minutes later and Gerrard made it 3-1 as for once the otherwise excellent Tiote failed to track his run and his low shot eluded Krul.

All the more galling as at 2-1 Cabaye played in Ba to the right of the goal and his exquisite chip eluded Reina, only for a defender to somehow get back and hook it off the line.

I think Newcastle managed to do themselves out of at least a point and if we’d been a bit more attack minded it could have built a better platform. Having said that even if Pardew had started with Ben Arfa (definitely my preference) it may have made little difference, we desperately need another frontline striker to give the team more freedom to express itself and I can sense Pardew’s frustration at having to look to Lovenkrands, Best and the Ameobis as attacking options.

Tonight shows to me though that if we could add a couple of quality players (rather than no doubt selling the ones we have got) then we would really be at the races. It may not be all about spending a fortune on players but it certainly isn’t about selling your best ones.

“We could have been better tonight I didn’t think that we were at our best second half, I thought we could have been a lot more positive about our play. We had done brilliant (in 2011) and we have got some very good players all fighting for each other and we have had a really really good calendar year and we need to take that now into next year and if we do anything like this last year we might surprise ourselves in our position in the league. We are still in a good position even though we were beat tonight and we go to the next game and continue hopefully our surge to stay at the top of the league.” Alan Pardew

Liverpool (4-3-3): Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique, Jordan Henderson, Jay Spearing, Charlie Adam (Steven Gerrard 59), Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll, Craig Bellamy (Dirk Kuyt 74).

Subs not used: Alexander Doni, Martin Kelly, Jamie Carragher, Jonjo Shelvey, Maxi Rodriguez.

Newcastle United (4-4-1-1): Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor (Davide Santon 46), Gabriel Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 84), Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez, Haris Vuckic (Hatem Ben Arfa 65), Demba Ba.

Subs not used: Rob Elliot, James Perch, Shola Ameobi, Leon Best.

Referee: Lee Probert

Attendance: 44,372 (2,000 away fans)

  • JT

    Good report but I disagree about Tiote, constantly gave the ball away and put us under needless pressure. But to be fair so did everybody, our ball retention was disgraceful tonight. Invited Liverpool onto us, disappointing but wasn’t really expecting anything tonight.

  • Wardy 1963

    Agree with JT – much of this right. Tiote, Simpson and Obertan all very poor! Pardew needs to be ruthless. Santon and Ben Arfa to start. Willo needs to learn how to pass too, Jonas needs to learn how to go forward. Man U will be difficult – changes need to be made!

  • Anonymous

    Too many players did not give enough to the team and created nothing ( Gutierrez ,Obertan, vuckic). Ben Arfa must be fed up of warming the bench, there was room for him starting against this Liverpool team( who were nothing until Gerrard came on!) Ba is good but it was asking too much and Vuckic selection back fired. Simpson will also be reminded to use his brain, 30 yards and he defends like this on another day Krul may have saved him but he was not i

  • Anonymous

    All about people making decisions, good and bad. At the moment our lot are making mainly bad ones, which is partly down to juggling limited options.
    Pardew picks Vuckic ahead of Ben Arfa, Simpson runs back to get in the way of Krul, Obertan decides never to run forward….

  • Anonymous

    Pardew must be prepared to take more than one tough decision. he dropped Best (rightly so) but surely you don’t keep Obertan up to 84 mns when he produces nothing in both directions! Gutierrez has got his new contract and has reverted to his old ways but showed initiative in telling Gerrard he wanted his shirt! Cabaye was class and often did Obertan and Gutierrez job hence dead on his legs at the end. We will need to work more as a unit against Man u. It will be tough.

  • Anonymous

    Like Brave45 points, players like Cabaye, Santon, Ba and Colo stand out because they are so comfortable on the ball. a quality striker alongside Ba would make everybody else a better player, including likes of Obertan and Jonas who would have that extra outlet.

  • Anonymous

    Like Gutsy says, Ben Arfa must be so frustrated at watching certain players (Jonas, Obertan, Best, Vuckic) give so little to the team while he gets spelks in his backside.
    Think partly Pardew played Vuckic ahead of likes of Best And Shola to say ‘look who I have to play because I’ve only got Demba Ba’.

  • Anonymous

    I got the feeling that Pardew’s interview was not right. yeah we lost so he would be disappointed but I felt there was an edge in his comments and he was quick in changing the subjects when asked about January transfers!

  • Anonymous

    Agree with that last comment by Gary Hope, think Pardew is feeling the strain of the idiots undermining him.
    Guessing Ashley will let him add a promising (young and average) centre-back for around £3m, then late on in the window sell a Tiote or whoever.
    If we are going to buy a centre-back surely we should be aiming at somebody to go straight in team because let’s face it, Williamson isn’t good enough to be first choice.

  • bigballsupthehole

    Look, wise up. The club is ruined.
    Ashley will not splash a cent, get used to it, oh, and keep paying tickets.
    Fools.
    Sooner you boycott and tell that fcb to go home the better.
    Meanwhile……carry on.

    mugs.

  • John

    We approached this game as if we were playing a top European team. In reality, if we had shown a little bit of guts in our team selection, Liverpool would have crumbled and we’d have at least had a point. If we’re trying to get a Europa League spot (which is the best that Liverpool team can hope for), that cluesless lump of lard running the club needs to spend money.

  • Mal

    Pardew’s selection of Vucik ahead of Ben Arfa was, I think, a surprise to everyone but unfortunately he looked completely out of his depth and barely touched the ball in the first half – although he did play an important, albeit fortuitous, part in our goal.
    To me, despite our pre match talk, we didn’t really look as if we believed we could take Liverpool on and they looked the far stronger team. Jonas and Obertan done absolutely nothing (has Jonas ever recovered from his game against Stoke?) and Ba had no support whatsoever. Having said that, had it not been for Simpson’s madness in defending that free kick we might have pinched a point.
    I think Pardew will have learnt a lot from the performance and I would expect Santon and Ben Arfa to start against Man U and I think Obertan is injured anyway so a change needs to be made there.
    I suppose it’s too much to ask that we try to sign a defender AND a striker in January (and no sales please), otherwise our very good start to the season is in danger of being wasted. We could still make europe with a bit of team strenghthening but unfortunately we seem more likely to lose players then sign them and, unlike other clubs, we seem to sell without getting a replacement in first.