Friday 30 December 2011 3pm
Watch match highlights here
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.
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)