Newcastle United 1 Liverpool 0

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

Back-to-back victories at Tottenham in the league and the unexpected dismissal of holders Manchester City from 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 the Premier League. Manager Alan Pardew can finally see some tangible reward for his hard work to integrate all of the new faces into the club after a troubling start to the new season. 

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

Manager Brendan Rodgers does not expect Sturridge to feature in what is a key week for his side, as they now move on to face Real Madrid away in the Champions League on Tuesday, followed by the challenge of how to derail the unbeaten Chelsea next weekend at home. It looks difficult to see how he can turn them around in the short term and pressure could well intensify on the team should they lose all three games this week as now seems a distinct possibility.

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

Liverpool almost scored on 57 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’s assistant had already raised his flag for offside.

Newcastle scored the decisive goal on 73 minutes when second-half sub Ayoze Perez Gutierrez swooped to score after a Paul Dummett cross that the Reds failed to clear. The Spaniard came on as a substitute for Cisse and is becoming a lucky omen for his new side after also scoring against Spurs in the league. It was almost two when another of Pardew’s new recruits, Remy Cabella fired a shot that Simon Mignolet had to push wide, as the away side chased an equaliser. It mattered not, as Liverpool failed to score for the second league game in a row.

It is amazing how important confidence can be to a team, as up to a few weeks ago Liverpool would have fancied their chances of gaining all three points at Newcastle, but the home side are a much trickier proposition now and many teams may well find them a handful later in the season in front of over 50,000 passionate fans as they continue to grow and blend in their new signings.
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