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Gerrard scores from it. Rodgers’ tactics miss it.

October 20, 2013 Leave a comment

An entertaining game at St James’ Park, but another one in which Liverpool have dropped points where they shouldn’t have, having played for most of the game with an extra man.

Newcastle had a player, deservedly, sent off for the third game in a row, as Yanga-Mbiwa saw red for a drag back on Suarez late in the first half (wonder if he had that half-time chat with Montpellier?)

In the BT Sport studio, David Ginola argued that it shouldn’t be a red card as the punishment multiplies for a single offence with the (a) penalty – which it was (b) red card and (c) goal.

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Er. So if Gerrard miss the penalty, the incentive is on the defender to deny Suarez the goalscoring opportunity, no? Drag him back, concede the penalty, and take a risk that the opposing team misses, while seeing your name go into the book. Sorry, I’m not buying it.

Also, I feel Newcastle were in a strong position down to ten. They had shown last year that they could withstand relentless pressure from Liverpool down to ten, and looked in little danger of conceding a third yesterday.

The panel also focused on Cabaye at half time. Fair enough, he was playing well. But the star for Newcastle was Cheik Tioté, who looked like the player he was when they first signed him. Liverpool were lucky that he had a knock and was late getting out of his own half to help Suarez stay onside for the penalty.

I could see the logic of the 3-5-2/5-3-2 yesterday if it was what Rodgers felt would win the game against Newcastle.

They rely on several creative players, and lack invention from the wings. So, stifle Remy and Ben Arfa and you have a good chance. But I think you need Lucas in the team. The idea being that Cissokho (poor yesterday) and Johnson bomb on with support from Gerrard and Henderson, but Lucas is there to stop Newcastle’s counter-attackers (who played well yesterday).

We lost (the chance to win three points) in the middle of the park. Shame Enrique wasn’t in as well. Cissokho played the same role, get forward until closed down, cut back, and lay the ball off to the supporting man. But, crucially, Cissokho tended to go backwards, rather than pass inside and go further forward to stretch the opposition.

Johnson got more joy on the right through his own impetus to attack, but Cissokho had more space on the left, and the game was crying out for a player to really go at Debuchy. I would’ve liked to see Agger given a go at bringing the ball forward, despite it not being his favoured position.

Gerrard played sporadically well, but gave the ball away with a couple of attempted killer passes. Good to see him get his 100th Premiership goal (and especially nice to see him beat Krul, the league’s most irritating keeper) Sturridge and Suarez played fine, but still seem to be in the same part of the pitch when we aren’t counter-attacking.

When we are, they’re superb. The Suarez chip for Sturridge’s equaliser was magic (his touch down in the right hand side of the penalty area earlier in the game one of the best I’ve ever seen).

I think Mignolet is too far to the left for the goal, which gives Cabaye a nice part of the goal to aim at. After that, the shot is brilliant, but it could be that Sakho should have got closer to him (and ducked the shot slightly when Cabaye hit it), though I may be stretching it there.

The second goal is woeful. Cissokho is asleep, Sakho not much better. Shocking, and cost us the three points.

What bothers me is that we got a bit lucky with Gerrard’s equaliser (stupid defending). The formation had not been working, and it was 40 minutes in when we got the chance. Change should have been made earlier, for me.

Likewise, at 1-1, we still looked flat. I would have liked to see Lucas replace Cissokho, send Johnson to left back to really get at Debuchy and have Kolo at right back. Shame Allen didn’t get 20 minutes at the end as well, when Newcastle were tiring and we were lacking inspiration.

We had quite a few not quite matchfit players yesterday, so that should improve. But if Rodgers is persisting with this formation to sit our two front players, the return of Coutinho can’t come quickly enough.

Skrtel played well and I think Sakho should carry on playing, as he is an eventual first-team choice for the foreseeable future. There has to be an argument for Agger to play at left-back for a while, though Enrique gives us attacking options that we don’t have from defensive players (why can none of our centre-backs attack the ball properly at corners??).

West Brom at home next week. Need a win, before a tricky run of fixtures which includes Arsenal and Everton away in the following three (and a nasty set of games over December).

Alan Pardew v Liverpool. Not on to a winner.

October 18, 2013 1 comment

Alan Pardew has insisted that Liverpool’s 6-0 trouncing of his Newcastle team at St James’ Park last year has been put behind them ahead of today’s clash.

The Newcastle boss is quoted as saying Liverpool “have got a really great attacking flair and the team is set out to score goals” on Newcastle’s club website.

And it’s exactly that type of astute comment that will ensure Liverpool don’t arrive quaking in their boots. Oh, and the memories of the 6-0 scoreline should help.

Taking a look through Wikipedia the Charlton, West Ham and Newcastle record books on Friday, I make Alan Pardew’s record against Liverpool as played 11; won 2; drawn 2; lost 7 (I can’t find any cup games, FA Cup final apart).

Admittedly that includes the FA Cup final in 2006, lost on penalties after a 3-3 draw after extra time, but I’m counting that as a loss. Because they didn’t share the trophy in the type of style John Terry may have proposed.

Pardew’s first win over Liverpool as Newcastle came in his very first game in charge (3-0; Nolan, Barton, Carroll). Liverpool were woeful. And to make it all the more sweet, Andy Carroll’s performance and third goal probably played a part in Liverpool losing their minds and panic buying paying £35m for him.

Four defeats from four against the reds while at West Ham; a solitary game and point on the last day of a season that had already seen Charlton relegated (Kewell with a 90th minute penalty to level the game); but a rather better record of two wins and a draw from six in his time on Tyneside.

But a hammering last year. And red cards for Debuchy (0-6) and Coloccini (1-1). Also, Suarez and Sturridge only played once each against Newcastle last year, but managed three goals between them. And Stewart Downing started last year and got two assists. TWO ASSISTS.

Coloccini misses out tomorrow through injury, while Gutierrez is on compassionate leave. Coutinho, a star in last year’s 6-0 triumph, is Liverpool’s only concern (does Iago Aspas missing count? Rodgers has already hailed it as his ‘strongest’ squad of the season). Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, substituted last month against Everton at half-time with the team 3-0 down, is expected to come in alongside Mike Williamson.

(Gratuitous Joe Kinnear shot. If he was managing, Newcastle would win 6-0).

Still, if he has another nightmare against a Merseyside team today, at least Montpellier’s chairman Louis Nicollin will be there to console him. Unless he’s predicting Yanga-Mbiwa will have a stinker and need a new club by 2.30pm.

There are reasons for Reds fans not to be overly optimistic though. The 2-0 reverse in April 2012 saw Papiss Cissé score two, and Ben Arfa run the show.

But this is a very different Liverpool team (Flanagan, Spearing, Shelvey, Carroll, Bellamy vs Johnson, Henderson, Allen, Suarez, Sturridge) and Liverpool should have too much. Assuming they don’t get internationalbreakitus.

A win today, followed by another against West Brom at home next week, and the prospect of top-4 looks achievable.