Saturday, 19 October 2013

Match Report: Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool

Newcastle 2
- Cabaye 23
- Dummett 56
Yanga Mbiwa sent off 40

Liverpool 2
- Gerrard 42(pen)
- Sturridge 72

Barclays Premier League, St. James' Park, Newcastle, 19/10/2013

Newcastle-Liverpool is a Premier League fixture steeped in history. Two huge, well-supported clubs, both were considerable forces in the pursuit of Manchester United during the division's early years. They played out a classic 4-3 at Anfield in March 1996 which seriously dented Newcastle's title hopes. Remarkably the same scoreline was repeated when the two clubs met again the following season, once again defeat consigning Newcastle to the runners-up spot in the table. Those days of chasing glory seem a far cry now however. Last year Liverpool won 6-0 at Newcastle as the Toon slid towards a very real relegation scare.

Aly Cissokho made his first Premier League start for Liverpool, playing as a left wing-back in the now regular Liverpool 3-5-2 formation. Glen Johnson returned to take up his position on the opposite flank while Henderson moved inside. Coutinho's continued absence meant Victor Moses was once again played out of position as a no.10. Newcastle started with Ben Arfa as a 'sort of' false nine with Remy and Gouffran on the wings. 

Liverpool began by controlling possession, Gerrard and Henderson sitting in front of the back four playing a short and quick passing game, forcing Newcastle to chase them. They attempted to hit Newcaste on the break but their best chances came from set pieces where Newcastle's defence looked totally at sea. Suarez, Skrtel and Sakho all winning free headers in the box. Danny Sturridge started very poorly and didn't really improve as the game went on, despite changing his boots. Some days strikers just have days like these when absolutely nothing comes off and it was Sturridge's turn for a stinker today.

Newcastle dug in early on, Tiote and Cabaye in particular doing a great job in midfield of nullifying the Liverpool attack. Cabaye himself broke the deadlock on 23 minutes with a slow, bouncing shot from 30 yards. Mignolet wasn't helped by the bounce right in front of him and the slippery surface but will still probably feel he should have kept it out. Cabaye looks to be back in favour with the Toon army recently with his sins of August apparently forgotten. He's a quality player.

They really took control of the game after this. Cabaye was excellent in midfield, everything went through him. He and Cheick Tiote compliment each other perfectly. Cabaye has amazing vision and range of passing. Plus he can shoot. Tiote doesn't have this talent but makes up for it with an amazing level of tenacity and work-rate.

A long ball over the top of the Newcastle defence found Suarez goal-side of Yanga-Mbiwa. The striker felt a hand on his shoulder and hit the deck. Not a dive. Penalty to Liverpool and a straight red for the French defender as the last man. Steven Gerrard placed the penalty in the bottom corner for his 100th Premier League goal. An achievement that deserves considerable recognition in what has been a great week personally for the Liverpool captain.

Playing against ten men and a defensive 4-4-1 formation, Liverpool came out for the second half looking to kill the game off early. They pressed forward but looked vulnerable on the break. Loic Remy in particular was able to find space in behind Glen Johnson. Cabaye was able to find Remy or any of his other targets at will. Newcastle re-took the lead from a set-piece. Paul Dummett, brought on to cover for Yanga-Mbiwa's red card, took advantage of Liverpool's defence going to sleep from a Cabaye free kick and snuck round the back post to tap in and become the first non-Frenchman to score a goal for Newcastle this season.

Liverpool looked a bit shocked and it took them until about the 70 minute mark to start really turning the screw. Suarez found space and was denied by Krul. Two minutes later he found space in behind Debuchy and squared brilliantly for Daniel Sturridge, who despite having one of the worst games of his career, could hardly miss with an open goal.

Liverpool continued to pepper the Newcastle goal with attempts right up until the final whistle, mostly from Suarez who also hit the crossbar with a wonderful volley. Newcastle had only one real opportunity to potentially nick a winner, Remy broke and probably should have squared to Anita who had made a lung-busting run to get forward. The striker went himself however and was boxed out by a pack of Liverpool defenders.

Fans were treated to a climactic ending. Luis Suarez won a cheap free kick on the edge of the box and it was well into the 97th minute before he got round to taking it. Tim Krul was equal to it, denying him the winner and earning a very very valuable point for Newcastle given the circumstances. Two dropped for Liverpool.

Player Ratings

Krul - 6.9
Debuchy - 7.4
Yanga-Mbiwa - 5.0
Williamson - 6.5
Santon - 6.7
Cabaye - 8.1
Tiote - 7.9
Sissoko - 6.2
Gouffran - 6.4
Ben Arfa - 6.8
Remy - 6.8

Demmutt (Sissoko 45) - 6.8
S Ameobi (Ben Arfa 78) - n/a
Anita (Cabaye 78) - n/a

Mignolet - 6.2
Johnson - 6.8
Toure - 6.4
Skrtel - 7.4
Sakho - 6.0
Cissokho - 6.8
Henderson - 7.0
Gerrard - 7.9
Moses - 7.1
Suarez - 8.2
Sturridge - 4.8

Alberto (Sakho 63) -
Sterling (Johnson 83) - n/a

Man of the Match: Luis Suarez - Liverpool

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