Newcastle United 1
Gerrard 31, 66, Hyypia 36, Babel 50, Alonso 77 pen.
Sometimes it’s hard not to exaggerate about your team. Blind bias, loyalty or the refusal to accept that the reality of the result or performance wasn’t what you expected. However, it would not be fanciful or overly optimistic to say that we could have scored ten goals in yesterday’s game. Such was our dominance and such was Newcastle’s ineptness. It’s not very often one can say that a 5-1 score line understates the gulf between the two sides performances!
Newcastle were disseminated by injuries but there should still be no excuse for allowing our players the time and space they were given yesterday. The game was early and Gerrard in particular must have thought that he’d forgotten to wash went he got up such was the “width of the berth” he was given by the Newcastle players!
One has to feel sorry for Shay Given in the Newcastle goal who made save after save, everyone of them seemingly terrific, to spare his team mates blushes. In the first half hour Given was involved in enough action the average keeper would expect to see in a full game and it was entirely down to him that it took us half an hour to make our dominance count.
Given denied Gerrard by fisting away his point blank shot. Managing to get a foot to Gerrard’s earlier attempt to lift the ball over him. Then Kuyt blasted one which Given stood up to and stopped with his face! He then turned away another point blank effort, this time from Lucas and then a header from the same player. Sami had the two chances that Given wasn’t involved in thwarting! A totally unmarked header past the post and then having one cleared off the line. There could be more chances but I needed to blink occasionally!
So about six chances and, thanks to one man, still nothing to show for it. This game should have been over long before the half an hour which was when the first telling blow was struck. Mascherano released Benayoun and his oblique cut back was coolly side footed home by Gerrard off the post. Five minutes later the score line had some semblance of accuracy as Hyypia headed home Gerrard’s corner. A header which given its distance from goal, Sami was level with the penalty spot, should have been stoppable?
Newcastle pulled one back via Edgar however, to it say it was against the run of play is an understatement not to mention bleeding obvious! This had no effect on the game, we continued to dominate. In the second half Babel restored the two goal cushion stabbing the ball over the line from close range after a goalmouth scramble with four Newcastle defenders, plus Given, in close attendance. Gerrard made doubly sure beating the offside trap, running on to a Lucas ball to dink over Given. Gerrard missed out on his hat trick as he was on the bench when Alonso inflicted further misery with a cool spot kick after Ngog was needlessly upended by Edgar.
So an excellent trio of days. Eight goals and now two points clear. Top at Christmas and top at the New Year and, more importantly, top at the half way point in the league. Newcastle were a wretched outfit and I can’t believe they will ever be as bad in future games. However, it should be remembered that we weren’t in mood to suffer off form teams gladly and with the likes of Alonso and Keane, how he must have been chopping at the bit yesterday, on the bench still dominated.
This can only be good for the team’s confidence going into the long home straight? Although we are top we have, with one or two exceptions, achieved this through perspiration rather than inspiration, in short we haven’t really got going. Perhaps the last two games are a first sign of us starting to put our foot on the accelerator? However, it is still a long, long treacherous journey. God speed!
Newcastle: Given, Edgar, Taylor, Coloccini, Jose Enrique (Ameobi 46), Gutierrez, Guthrie, Butt (Geremi 56), N’Zogbia, Duff, Owen (LuaLua 79).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Xisco, Kadar, Carroll.
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Hyypia, Agger, Insua, Benayoun (Alonso 60), Mascherano, Leiva Lucas, Babel, Gerrard (Ngog 70), Kuyt (Skrtel 79).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Keane, Riera, El Zhar.