Liverpool 3 v Newcastle United 0
Premier League, Anfield, 15:00 GMT, Saturday 8 March 2008
It’s eight games without a win for Kevin Keegan now as Liverpool cruised to victory against his dispirited Newcastle side. Although Keegan wouldn’t have realistically expected to get anything from this game, he will be disappointed with the ease with which Liverpool won.
Things looked so much better for the Toon Army for forty-three minutes as they managed to keep Liverpool at bay. Only an early Torres shot saved by Harper and a Benayoun strike blocked eight yards out at the midway point of the half gave Keegan too much cause for concern.
Keegan would have been looking forward to giving his half-time teamtalk to his players after a confidence boosting half, but it all went horribly wrong in the space of the last two minutes of the half.
Liverpool took the lead on 43 minutes when a clearance from Enrique struck Jermaine Pennant on the shin and looped over Harper into the empty net. They say that the luck goes against you when you’re down. It certainly did here.
Two minutes later the game was over as a contest when Gerrard slid Torres through on the keeper. He took the ball past the helpless Harper and gleefully slotted the ball into the open goal for his seventh goal in three home games.
If Newcastle were looking to limit the damage in the second half it only lasted for six minutes. Torres returned the compliment to Gerrard who ran through and cleverly lifted the ball over Harper as he came out.
Soon after the third goal Harper produced a stunning save to deny Gerrard his second.
With the game firmly under control, Benitez took the opportunity to take his star men Gerrard and Torres off to rest them for the trip to Milan.
Newcastle substitute Obafemi Martins nearly pulled a goal back with a wonder volley from 40 yards which hit the Liverpool crossbar.
In truth, this was an isolated piece of brilliance for the Magpies who look in more and more danger of the drop.
Liverpool will head to Milan in confident mood, playing well and fighting hard to maintain fourth place in the table.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Riise, Alonso, Lucas, Pennant (Hyypia 78), Gerrard (Kuyt 66), Benayoun, Torres (Crouch 72).
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Babel.
Newcastle: Harper, Beye, Faye, Taylor, Jose Enrique, Milner (Geremi 44), Butt, N’Zogbia, Duff (Martins 58), Owen, Smith.
Subs Not Used: Forster, Cacapa, Carroll.
Not a lot is going right for poor Kevin Keegan. As his team slump towards possible relegation he has a visit to his old stomping ground at Anfield to look forward to. Just a couple of weeks ago he saw tomorrow’s opponents go out of the FA Cup to Barnsley. Liverpol were a club in crisis. “Mmm,” King Kev must have thought, “We can get something at Anfield, and I can turn our season around.”
What an appetising prospect this must be for Keegan and the Toon Army as they approach the game on a run of twelve Premier League games without a win having conceded twenty-seven goals in that time. I don’t know if anyone has ever scored hat-tricks in three successive home games but Torres must be licking his lips at the best chance of doing so he will ever have.
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Newcastle and I’m trying my best to find some crumbs of comfort and some reason for optimism for the trip to Merseyside. To be honest I’m struggling.
In 72 League meetings at Anfield Liverpool have won 47 of them, 14 have been draws and Newcastle have won just 11. Since 2000 Liverpool have won 5 with 2 being drawn. Liverpool have scored 16 goals in those matches.
There always seem to be goals between these two and anyone who saw the games in April 1996 when a late Stan Collymore goal gave Liverpool a 4-3 win and then in March 1997 when history repeated itself with another 4-3 home win with a late goal, this time from Robbie Fowler, will remember them as two of the best games ever seen in the Premier League.
As I’ve already said, Liverpool have won four in a row and Newcastle have gone twelve without winning.
Liverpool have Fernando Torres on eighteen Premier League goals. Newcastle have Michel Owen on four. (Interesting fact – Christiano Ronaldo has scored more goals in his two games against Newcastle (5) than Michael Owen has (4) all season!)
Liverpool’s defence have conceded ten goals in their last twelve League games, Newcastle have conceded twenty-seven.
Liverpool go into the game off a 4-0 win. Newcastle go into the game off a heartbreaking last minute 1-0 defeat.
Clubs in crisis?
Liverpool have the ongoing saga of the ownership of the club going on in the background. The battle between the DIC and the Dubai based company (See what I did there?) goes on and on. However, on the field Rafa seems to have turned things around since the FA Cup humiliation and they are looking good again.
Newcastle have so many problems that it is difficult to list them all here. The fact that ‘crisis talks’ were held last weekend and Keegan has allegedly told his boss that he can’t guarantee Premiership survival, leaves the club in a bit of a mess.
Difficult to see anything other than a comfortable Liverpool win. Of course, Rafa might rest Gerrard and Torres. Actually, even if he does, it’s hard to see anything other than a Liverpool win.
Match report will appear here after the game on Saturday. I hope it is another classic, but I fear it might be a bit one sided classic. We’ll see. Maybe the Geordie Messiah can start to work his magic.
Graham writes at Views of a fan.