Friday, 18 October 2013

Five Favourite Wins Against - Newcastle away

Continuing the series where I look back at my five favourite wins the Liverpool’s next opponents.  This weekend Liverpool travel to St. James’ Park to meet Newcastle United and here are my five favourite wins from past encounters.

20th September 1987
NEWCASTLE   (0)   1   (McDonald pen 60)
LIVERPOOL   (2)   4   (Nicol 20, 47, 70, Aldridge 37)

NEWCASTLE: Kelly; Anderson, Roeder, P. Jackson, McDonald; Hodges (D. Jackson), McCreery, Stephenson, Wharton; Goddard, Mirandinha

LIVERPOOL: Grobbelaar; Gillespie (Spackman), Lawrenson, Hansen, Venison , Nicol; McMahon, Whelan; Beardsley, Aldridge, Barnes

Liverpool had won all but one of their first 5 matches, drawing the other, at the start of the 1987-88 season.  In contrast, Newcastle had just one win losing 3 others.  In the Newcastle line-up was the first Brazilian player to play in the First Division, Mirandinha.  He had replaced Peter Beardsley who’d moved to Liverpool.  It was Beardsley’s first return to St. James’ Park, and the country was beginning to get a glimpse of what was to become the best Liverpool side I’ve ever seen.

20 minutes in and Barnes picked up the play just inside his own half on the left.  He beat two players and then laid the ball off to Beardsley who was hugging the touchline.  Barnes continued his run and Beardsley played the ball neatly into Barnes’ path and now Newcastle were stretched.  Barnes ball into the area was dealt with poorly by Anderson and Steve Nicol was first to the ball to slot it past Kelly for the opening goal.  Nicol then had a goal disallowed with Aldridge offside before Aldridge himself added a second when Beardsley found Nicol free on the right, he played it back to Venison, who joined the attack, and the former Sunderland defender’s curling cross was headed back into the 6-yard box by Barnes at the far post and there was Aldridge to finish for his 6th of the season as he maintained his record of scoring in every game he’d started for Liverpool.  Within minutes of the second half the lead was 3 goals, Lawrenson took advantage of the home defence pushing up and played a long ball to set Beardsley free on the left of the area.  As he settled himself it was Nicol who was furthest forward and Beardsley just waited for the right time and then squared the ball for Nicol to tap in from close range.

Newcastle had lost both their home matches so far this season and were now staring at the possibility of a rout but on the hour, Goddard linked with Mirandinha who was then brought down by Gillespie in the box.  McDonald converted the spot-kick for what was no more than a consolation.  10 minutes later and Liverpool restored their 3-goal advantage with the best goal of the afternoon.  Aldridge came deep to collect the ball, turned and saw Nicol running into the space he’d created.  Nicol was away and clear of any defender and as he reached the area he waited for Kelly to advance off his line and without checking his stride, calmly chipped the ball over the desperate keeper for a finish of pure impudence and the completion of his hat-trick.  Liverpool were comfortable winners and, as they did so many times that season, just made the whole process seem so effortless.

Liverpool won the League at a canter, finishing 9pts ahead of Man Utd in 2nd and 17pts ahead of Nottingham Forest in 3rd.  Newcastle eventually recovered from their poor start to the season to finish 8th.

30th August 1998
NEWCASTLE   (1)   1   (Guivarc’h 28)
LIVERPOOL   (4)   4   (Owen 17, 18, 32, Berger 45)

NEWCASTLE: Given; Serrant (Barton), Charvet, Watson (Dabizas), Pearce; Lee, Hamann (Glass), Albert, Speed; Guivarc’h, Shearer

LIVERPOOL: Friedel; Heggem, Carragher, Babb, Staunton; McManaman (Thompson), Redknapp (McAteer), Ince, Berger; Owen, Riedle

This game was all about Michael Owen.  The 18-year old had just become an international sensation during the World Cup in the summer and he was in rich goalscoring form.  Ruud Gullit had recently replaced Kenny Dalglish as Newcastle manager and he promised to bring ‘sexy football’ to Tyneside.  But for some, Owen’s performance was better than sex.  Liverpool were under the uncomfortable partnership of Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier and there was less confusion over their selection than for the home side as Gullit decided to watch from the comfort of the directors box.

The early exchanges were fierce as tackles flew in and Newcastle looked more adventurous than their opponents.  Liverpool had tried to put Owen through a couple of times and then in the 17th minute Newcastle failed to properly clear a free-kick.  The ball came out to Paul Ince who fired a shot from 30 yards which Given could only parry and Owen was first to react and his shot was too strong for Given to keep out at his near post and Liverpool were in front.  Newcastle were shaken and struggled to avoid giving the ball away as Liverpool started to pass the ball around with confidence.  McManaman began to exert his influence and picked the ball up in the centre-circle, waited for Owen to make his run and threaded a lovely ball through for the youngster to run onto and he coolly slipped it through Given’s legs for his 2nd goal in a minute. 

10 minutes later and Newcastle were still struggling to find any rhythm when Babb was dispossessed deep in his own half by Lee and as the Newcastle midfielder surged forward Liverpool were outnumbered in defence and he squared the ball for Guivarc’h to score his first goal for his new club.  Newcastle still didn’t seem to be in the game but at least they were in touching distance, until 4 minutes later when Owen put the game beyond them with the best goal of the day.  The move started with a clearance from Friedel which fell to Charvet in his own half on the centre-circle.  He dwelt too long on the ball and Riedle nipped in to rob him, finding Owen who was now free to run at the defence.  Owen beat the first challenge, then skipped past Albert and then as Given came out Owen knocked the ball past him with the outside of his right foot for a stunning first half hat-trick.  Owen was in the sublime form and few defences could handle him.

As the first half moved into stoppage time Friedel cleared the ball downfield and Berger was quick to steal it as he too skipped past a challenge and then on the edge of the area he fired a left-foot shot past Given and Liverpool were now 4-1 up after just 45 minutes.  In contrast to a scintillating first period the second half was a bit of an anti-climax as the home side made little progress and Liverpool were comfortable winners.  They ended the season in a disappointing 7th with Newcastle back in 13th.

24th November 2007
NEWCASTLE   (0)   0  
LIVERPOOL   (1)   3   (Gerrard 27, Kuyt 46, Babel 66)

NEWCASTLE: Given; Beye, Rozehnal, Enrique (Carr), Emre (Barton); N’Zogbia (Milner), Geremi, Butt, Smith; Martins, Viduka

LIVERPOOL: Reina; Arbeloa, Hyypia, Carragher, Finnan; Gerrard (Crouch), Sissoko, Lucas, Kewell (Babel); Kuyt (Riise), Torres

When Liverpool arrived at St. James’ Park in November 2007 they were unbeaten and sitting in 5th.  Newcastle were a little less settled as Sam Allardyce had taken over the reins from Glenn Roeder and they were down in 11th, thanks largely to their home form.

Allardyce and Benitez have never seen eye-to-eye and the Liverpool manager seemed to enjoy the perils his opposite number was enduring, as the Geordie crowd appeared increasingly exasperated with proceedings.  Liverpool were by far the more settled side as some of the Newcastle players seemed unsure of where they were supposed to be playing.  Steven Gerrard opened the scoring with a sublime free-kick at the halfway stage of the first half and that proved to be the difference between the two sides at the break.

Early in the second half a Gerrard corner was poorly dealt with and Sami Hyypia’s backheel fell to an unmarked Kuyt who saw the ball fly off his shin and into the net for the 2nd goal.  Torres then had several chances to increase the lead yet seemed to suffer from a surprising fit of profligacy and then just after the hour Gerrard’s surging run from midfield saw him exchange passes with Babel before he gave the Dutch substitute the opportunity to confirm the 3pts as he made it 3-0 to the visitors.

A black cloud hung above Newcastle around this time and goalkeeper Shay Given declared it had been one of his worst afternoons on Tyneside, adding “I’ve been here 10 years but that performance was right down there with the worst of them.  Confidence is a bit low, we are all a bit shell-shocked.”

Allardyce didn’t last the season on Tyneside as Newcastle finished in 12th.  Liverpool secured Champions League football by finishing 4th.

28th December 2008
NEWCASTLE   (0)   1   (Edgar 45)
LIVERPOOL   (2)   5   (Gerrard 31, 66, Hyypia 36, Babel 50, Alonso pen 76)

NEWCASTLE: Given; Edgar, Taylor, Coloccini, Gutierrez; N’Zogbia, Guthrie, Butt (Geremi), Enrique (Ameobi); Duff, Owen (Lua Lua)
LIVERPOOL: Reina; Agger, Hyypiam Carragher, Insua; Benayoun (Alonso), Gerrard (N’Gog), Mascherano, Lucas; Kuyt (Skrtel), Babel

The Christmas period 2008 and Liverpool were top of the league 2pts ahead of Chelsea and had lost just once all season and were unbeaten in their last 8.  Newcastle had recovered from a poor start of losing 4 of their first 6 matches and were unbeaten in 6 games at home.  Liverpool were playing some of their best football during this period and were in confident mood.  There was a fluidity and rhythm to their passing and movement.

They took the lead after half an hour during one such move.  Carragher started it on the right wing, playing the ball inside for Mascherano.  This was the cue for Benayoun to make his run, taking him into the area where Mascherano found him with a perfectly weighted pass.  Three Newcastle defenders ran to the 6-yard box to anticipate a square pass, instead Benayoun pulled it back where Gerrard was unmarked on the penalty spot and he finished beautifully into the top right hand corner.  The move was incisive and simple in its construction yet the home side seemed powerless to stop it.

It was Gerrard’s 7th of the season and the mood in the ground was dampened further when Hyypia doubled the lead 6 minutes later.  Liverpool had been dominant in the half thus far and Shay Given had been called upon to make many good saves to keep the home side within touching distance, but he could do little about the poor protection his defenders were giving him.  Gerrard’s corner was met perfectly by Hyypia’s head in a move more in keeping with the training ground than a competition Premier League encounter.  Then as the first half moved into stoppage time, suddenly there was something for the Toon to cheer as David Edgar rose to get his head first to a corner and make it 1-2.

But if the home fans were hoping that goal would see a rejuvenated side in the second half, their hopes were dashed from another set-piece.  Gerrard again took a corner on the right and Hyypia moved to the near post to meet it but let it go, where it hit Lucas on the shoulder and bounced towards the goal.  Several Newcastle defenders stopped rather than wait for the whistle, and Babel with his back to the goal, was given far too much time to turn and stab the ball into the net despite being surrounded by three defenders and the keeper.  Liverpool had restored their 2-goal advantage and then gradually played the home team out of the game.  Midway through the second half Liverpool knocked the ball around in their own half inviting Newcastle to push up, played it back to Reina where his ball forward was nodded on by Lucas to Gerrard on the halfway line.  Gerrard played it back to Lucas and turned and ran whereupon Lucas found him with an inch-perfect pass beyond the defender and Gerrard’s pace took him clear.  As Given came out Gerrard deftly chipped the ball over the keeper’s left shoulder for his 2nd and Liverpool’s 4th of the game.  Liverpool’s ability to manipulate the home side around the pitch was proving the crucial difference.

Newcastle were managed by Joe Kinnear and there was a dismal feeling around St. James’ Park, and their misery was complete when Edgar tripped N’Gog in the box and Xabi Alonso converted the spot-kick for a 5-1 win.  Liverpool came close to winning their 19th league title when pipped at the post by Manchester United.  For Newcastle this game was synonymous with the rest of their season as they ended up relegated to the Championship.

27th April 2013
NEWCASTLE   (0)   0  
LIVERPOOL   (2)   6  (Agger 3, Henderson 17, 76, Sturridge 54, 60, Borini 74)

NEWCASTLE: Elliot; Debuchy, Taylor, Mapou, Haidara; Sissoko, Tiote (Anita), Cabaye, Perch (Ben Arfa); Gutierrez (Gouffran), Cisse
LIVERPOOL: Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique; Gerrard (Borini), Lucas; Downing, Henderson, Coutinho (Suso); Sturridge (Shelvey)

The build-up to this game was all about one man who wouldn’t be playing.  The week before was the Luis Suarez biting incident and the press had been full of how long his ban was going to be.  By the end of the week it was confirmed he wouldn’t be playing in the next 10 games for Liverpool and speculation was rife as to how they would, or could, do without him.

Liverpool sat in 7th still 5pts behind the team above them, Everton.  Newcastle were perilously close to the drop zone, having impressed many the season before.  Liverpool had only won 1 of their last 5 in the league yet they were clearly determined from the off.  Liverpool were pressing and had won successive corners which the home side struggled to defend against.  Downing had played a ball in to try and find Agger, but it had been headed away back to him, when he floated it back the whole defence pushed up leaving Agger with a free header and he put the visitors in front.  17 minutes in and a clearance from Reina found Sturridge just inside the Newcastle half, who laid it off to Coutinho and both he and Henderson bombed forward.  Coutinho played a beautiful little pass with the outside of his right foot to Sturridge who’d sprinted ahead of his marker.  As Elliot came out Sturridge eased the ball to his left where Henderson was free to pass the ball into the empty net for a 2-0 lead.

Liverpool were rampant as Sturridge seemed to revel in his main striker role.  Newcastle should’ve got a goal back just before half-time when James Perch somehow headed wide of the target when it was harder to miss.  There was a certain symmetry for the man who’d got Pepe Reina sent off during Liverpool’s last visit.  2-1 to the visitors at half-time but things just got worse for Newcastle in the second period.

When Liverpool signed Philippe Coutinho from Inter there were concerns over whether he’d be able to handle himself in the hustle and bustle of Premier League football.  Any doubts were completely blown away as he eased Ben Arfa off the ball on the halfway line and then jinked his way forward, twisting, turning and waiting for the right moment to find Sturridge, who’d once again lost his marker.  Sturridge took one touch and fired the ball into the roof of the net for a 3-0 lead.  The pass from Coutinho was worth the entrance fee alone.  Liverpool were beginning to find this all too easy and were able to win the ball back as if it was their right.  After one particular instance, Steven Gerrard had enough time to pick his moment and place the ball over the defence for Henderson to run clear and then return the favour for Sturridge to pass the ball into the empty net.  Still a third of the game left and Liverpool were now 4-0 up.

Into the last quarter of an hour and Rodgers brought Borini on for Gerrard, who was substituted for the first time in the season, and Liverpool attacked again with Coutinho and Henderson both influential.  Downing twisted the full-back on the right wing before pulling it back where Borini greeted the game with his first touch which ended up in the back of the net.  Two minutes later Coutinho was chopped down on the left wing, and it was Henderson who took the kick and curled it past everyone into the far corner to complete the rout.  Many of the home fans had started leaving after the 4th goal and there was a complete feeling of surrender around St. James’ Park, but for Liverpool they had answered the Suarez question emphatically with a thumping win.  Neither club changed the positions from the final three matches of the season.

HEAD TO HEAD at St. James’ Park

Matches: 78
Liverpool win: 24
Newcastle win: 31
Draws: 23

Liverpool goals: 99
Newcastle goals: 113

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