Newcastle United 1 Liverpool 0

Newcastleversus Liverpool games of the recent past have commonly served up a feastof attacking Football, with lots of action and plenty of goals, providing ammunition for those believing that the Premier League is the best leaguein the world. Sadly, yesterday's rather tepid affair in the lunchtime kick-offat St James' Park was not one that will stay long in the memory banks, otherthan for the Geordie fans who will have been delighted to keep their good rungoing with a solid 1-0 victory over the Reds.

Back-to-back victories atTottenham in the league and the unexpected dismissal of holders Manchester Cityfrom the Capital One Cup have given Newcastle renewed hope for a decent season,and beating Liverpool moved them up to just one place behind the Reds in thePremier League.

Manager Alan Pardew can finally see some tangible reward for hishard work to integrate all of the new faces into the club after a troublingstart to the new season. 

Liverpoolare sorely missing Daniel Sturridge to liven up their attack and to (perhaps)get the most out of the laconic Mario Balotelli, a partnership that lookedextremely promising when the 'pool defeated Spurs 3-0 at White Hart Lane buthas not been able to blossom since due to Sturridge's ongoing injury issues. Thezero goal difference is poles apart from the free scoring side of last yearthat while letting in more goals than they would have liked, usually found away to outscore their opponents as the “SAS” (Suarez and Sturridge) struck fearinto opposition defenders.

Manager Brendan Rodgers doesnot expect Sturridge to feature in what is a key week for his side, as they nowmove on to face Real Madrid away in the Champions League on Tuesday, followedby the challenge of how to derail the unbeaten Chelsea next weekend at home. Itlooks difficult to see how he can turn them around in the short term andpressure could well intensify on the team should they lose all three games thisweek as now seems a distinct possibility.

It wasa slow burner of a match on Saturday where the best chances of the first halfwere an effort from Papiss Cisse for the home side that Glen Johnson clearedoff the line and a header from Martin Skrtel for Liverpool that he guidednarrowly wide of the post from a Steven Gerrard corner. There was bad news for the Toon Armyas Gabriel Obertan was stretchered off midway through the half, but at leastthat gave another opportunity off the bench for the lively youngster RolandoAarons who had caused Manchester City problems in the middle of the week. 

Liverpool almost scored on57 minutes when a Philippe Coutinho header forced Tim Krul into a smart,one-handed save.

It wouldn’t have counted anyway though, as the referee’sassistant had already raised his flag for offside.

Newcastlescored the decisive goal on 73 minutes when second-half sub Ayoze PerezGutierrez swooped to score after a Paul Dummett cross that the Reds failed toclear. The Spaniard came on as a substitute for Cisse and is becoming a luckyomen for his new side after also scoring against Spurs in the league. It wasalmost two when another of Pardew’s new recruits, Remy Cabella fired a shotthat Simon Mignolet had to push wide, as the away side chased an equaliser. Itmattered not, as Liverpool failed to score for the second league gamein a row.

It is amazing how important confidence can be to a team, as up to a fewweeks ago Liverpool would have fancied their chances of gaining all threepoints at Newcastle, but the home side are a much trickier proposition now andmany teams may well find them a handful later in the season in front of over50,000 passionate fans as they continue to grow and blend intheir new signings.