Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Match Report: Liverpool 1 - 1 Newcastle

Striker Luis Suarez upstaged Steven Gerrard on a landmark day for the Liverpool captain as he underlined his value to Brendan Rodgers' side once again.

Gerrard became only the 10th player to make 600 appearances for the club but it was the 25-year-old Uruguay international who stole the show against Newcastle, who finished with 10 men after Fabricio Coloccini was sent off late on.

With Liverpool trailing to Yohan Cabaye's fine strike late in the first half, Suarez produced a brilliant equalizer - his seventh goal in nine league matches - but just could not inspire his team to victory.

He did, at least, preserve Liverpool's impressive unbeaten home record against the Magpies which was extended to 18 league matches - 15 of which were wins.

It would have been harsh had Newcastle ended that run as Liverpool spent 43 minutes dominating the match, only to be caught with a sucker punch just before half-time.

The frustrating thing for Reds manager Rodgers - and most of Anfield - was that you could see it coming.

From the moment Coloccini appeared to make contact with Suarez in the penalty area in the sixth minute only for referee Anthony Taylor to wave play on the writing was on the wall.

Liverpool forced a succession of corners and saw shots from Suso and Raheem Sterling either deflected wide or just off target, while Suarez curled a free-kick just wide.

Tim Krul made first save of note from Suarez after Suso and Sahin had combined to set him racing down the right, and the striker also headed wide from Gerrard's cross.

Such was Liverpool's dominance and confidence Gerrard attempted a 60-yard free-kick in an attempt to catch Krul off his line but it dropped just over - unlike Xabi Alonso's effort from inside his own half which beat Magpies keeper Steve Harper on this ground in 2006.

Those were the days when the Reds had the Spain midfielder controlling midfield and Gerrard, in his pomp, charging forward to score goals aplenty - even before Fernando Torres arrived to terrorize the Premier League.

It seems a long time ago now and Liverpool no longer carry the same threat - and opponents know it.

They bide their time, keep a close eye on the carefully-prepared passing game taking place in front of them and then strike at an opportune moment.

Newcastle did exactly that and when Andre Wisdom was penalised for a foul throw deep in enemy territory, the Magpies swiftly transferred the ball to their right to isolate Hatem Ben Arfa against former Newcastle defender Jose Enrique.

The Frenchman made a thrilling run to the byline and crossed to the far post where Cabaye controlled and smashed a superb half-volley past Brad Jones, becoming the first Newcastle player to score at Anfield since Patrick Kluivert in December 2004.

Demba Ba's failure to last more than five minutes of the second half was something of a bonus for Liverpool, although he had not really posed much of a threat up to that point.

The home side picked up the tempo and just before the hour Suarez's shot was turned around the post by Krul, with Sahin's strike bouncing just past the same upright soon after.

Newcastle were restricted to counter-attacks and one could have resulted in a penalty when Skrtel challenged Ba's replacement Sammy Ameobi, but referee Taylor judged it fair as Ameobi appeared to stand on the ball rather than being felled by the defender.

For all Rodgers' insistence on short passing football, the equalizer came from a 50-yard ball out of defence by Enrique. However, to say it owed a lot to Suarez's brilliance would be an understatement.

The Uruguay international, running at full tilt under pressure from Coloccini, controlled it on his shoulder, brought it down and quickly side-stepped Krul to roll it into the net.

Once again Suarez had ignited Liverpool and when he cut in from the right byline soon afterwards, substitute Jonjo Shelvey could not get enough on the ball to divert it into the net.

Another Liverpool mistake, this time from Enrique, sent Ameobi racing clear but with a two-man overload down Newcastle's right, Ben Arfa shot tamely at Jones.

But Newcastle captain Coloccini put his side under pressure when he raked his studs down the back of Suarez's leg and was sent off with six minutes to go.

Still Suarez could not be contained and a deflected free-kick and freakish bounce almost snatched a bizarre winner in the last minute of added time.

The final whistle saw Newcastle manager Alan Pardew march onto the field to speak to the officials but there was no sustained protest.

Rodgers: Suarez Is Liverpool's Lionel Messi

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers described Luis Suarez as his side's equivalent of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, after the striker's display against Newcastle United on Sunday, reports BBC Sport.

The Uruguayan international scored a delightful equalizer to secure the Reds a 1-1 draw with the Magpies at Anfield, and was a constant thorn in the side of the visitors' back line.

Playing in the hole between Newcastle's defence and midfield, Suarez's movement and penetrating forward runs caused Alan Pardew's side plenty of trouble - his impressive performance deserved far more than a point.

"He plays the false nine role like Messi does for Barcelona where he moves freely and others have to get in behind him to penetrate," Rodgers told Sky Sports after the game. "Suarez's goal was brilliant. He is a world-class striker."

Fabricio Coloccini was given a torrid time by Suarez and was red-carded for an 84th-minute challenge on the Liverpool striker, who has now scored seven goals in his last nine league matches.

"Seeing it again I think it was a [red card]. The intent, it was a naughty challenge," added the Anfield boss. "I don't think there was a great deal of contact there, if I am being honest, but the ball had gone.

"Once you see the replays, he deserves to go for that. People talk about diving but I have seen a lot worse going on in the game this season going unpunished.

"It was probably frustration from Fabricio Coloccini because Luis Suarez was unplayable. I thought he was outstanding."

Yohan Cabaye gave Newcastle a first-half lead against the run of play, before Suarez levelled after the break to lift Liverpool to 12th in the table, with 11 points from 10 games.

"We are disappointed we couldn't get the win because it was the very least we deserved. We had enough chances in the game to have won it but I have no complaints.

"Once we get a number of other players that can fit the profile and the model of our game, when we dominate games like that and finish the chances it will be great for us."

Pardew: Coloccini Is Not A Coward

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has leapt to the defence of Fabricio Coloccini, who was branded a coward after Sunday's 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Coloccini was sent-off for lunging in on Liverpool goalscorer Luis Suarez, leaving Pardew's team to battle out the remainder of the match with 10 men. Sky TV pundit Chris Coleman was scathing in his assessment of the incident, which he viewed as "a coward's challenge".

"It's a scandalous challenge, a coward's challenge. Football is a physical game, but that was a coward's challenge. If he catches him higher it's serious," said Coleman.

Pardew, whose side took the lead through Yohan Cabaye on the stroke of half-time, aimed to protect his skipper's reputation following the match, but Newcastle have since confirmed that they will not appealing against the decision to send off their captain.

"I've got no reaction to Chris Coleman's comments," insisted Pardew. "Part of me is thinking that there's no intent from 'Colo' because I know what he's like and he's a real, real top guy.

"At the time I didn't see it so I was really unsure. I know he's got no intent with it. The referee said it was dangerous intent and looking at it, it doesn't look too well from one angle.

"But from another, it looks like he's stopping himself to some extent. I think we'll just have to accept it and my gut feeling is we won't appeal."

Pardew's Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers believes Coloccini dived in out of frustration, hailing the ability of striker Suarez to torment opposition defenders.

"He was unplayable," said Rodgers. "I think Coloccini was frustrated. He couldn't get near him, and he's a good player.

"Luis is just so bright and so clever. He's a real world-class striker. He really frustrates defenders. His goal was brilliant. He's an absolute joy to work with and he's got a real hunger for the game."

Enrique Unfazed By Lowly Position

Defender Jose Enrique insists Liverpool are only a couple of wins away from establishing themselves as top-four challengers.

A fifth draw in 10 Premier League matches at home to Newcastle left Brendan Rodgers' side six points adrift of fourth place.

However, Enrique believes performances like the one against his former club show progress is being made and the situation is not as gloomy as is being made out.

"Of course it's not a good position to be in the table," said the Spaniard in reference to their current 12th place.

"We want to be in the top four and I know that is difficult at the moment as there are many teams above us.

"But if we had beaten Newcastle we would have only been four points behind the Champions League positions.

"It's not that far away. If we were to win three or four games in a row we would be up there."

Key to them achieving that, however, will be their ability to transform their fortunes in front of goal.

So far they have scored just 13 league goals - and five of those came at Norwich - with striker Luis Suarez contributing seven strikes.

Everyone acknowledges that without the Uruguay international, who scored a brilliant equalizer to cancel out Yohan Cabaye's opener at Anfield, Liverpool would be in a much worse position.

Manager Brendan Rodgers is working hard to rectify the situation when the January transfer window opens but in the interim Enrique said it was up to other players to find supplementary goals.

"It was an amazing goal from Luis - the control and finish was 10 out of 10 - but it's no surprise as we know what he can do," said the left-back.

"Every game he does something like this and he's such a key player for us.

"Luis scored a lot of goals in Holland (for Ajax). He had a great record there and we know he will score a lot of goals for us.

"It's a dream to play with someone like him but we can't depend on one player.

"We need more players to score as we can't always look to Luis."

After seeing his form deteriorate over the last 12 months Enrique has been handed a way back into the starting line-up by Glen Johnson's hamstring injury.

But despite the 26-year-old not being fancied by Rodgers he feels the Northern Irishman's style will allow him to regain some of his old spark - as well as help the rest of the team chip in with goals.

"With this manager the style of play is different than we played before," he added.

"We are all getting used to it and every game we are playing better.

"It's great to play like this and it will get us results.

"I use a lot more energy going forward now - against Newcastle I played many times like a striker - as this is the type of football the manager wants from his full-backs.

"Defensively I have less work now than before, I am more of an offensive player.

"We need more people in the box. When myself, Glen and Andre (Wisdom) are playing we try to go forward and if you do that you have more chances and more players to score goals.

"Against Newcastle I was able to get forward a lot, like I did when I was playing in Spain.

"I enjoy attacking more than defending. In games like this where we are in control I'm able to attack and try to get into the box."

Rodgers has regularly called for greater goalscoring contributions from his players and feels midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, who had a hat-trick of chances after coming on as a second-half substitute, is the most likely to deliver.

"I think Jonjo can play the advanced role in midfield, I believe that is his best position as he is a goalscoring midfielder," he said.

"Importantly he is getting in there and he is showing when he does arrive in the box he gets chances to score."

Newcastle, in 10th, are only three points ahead of Liverpool but manager Alan Pardew hopes his side can also start to put pressure on the top four with matches against West Ham and Swansea up next.

"We know draws aren't the greatest of results but with the run of games we've got coming up we've put ourselves in a good position," he said.

"Two wins - if we can get them - and we are going to find ourselves in the top five and with two matches at home we have that opportunity."

Spanish International Reportedly Available For €7 Million

A host of Premier League clubs have been alerted to the availability of Athletic Bilbao forward Fernando Llorente, who is reportedly available for as little as €7 million.

The Spanish forward is in the last year of his contract at the Basque club, and will be available to leave the club on a free transfer at the end of the season. Relations between Lorente and the club are strained, with the 27-year-old having only played 162 minutes for Bilbao this season.

Italian news Gazzetta Dello Sport report that Bilbao are now ready to cash in on the disgruntled striker, and will listen to offers of just €7 million, not even a third of price tag he had been fitted with during the summer months. Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Liverpool and Serie A champions Juventus have closely monitored Llorentre’s situation and may be tempted into entering the fray in efforts to resolve their own shortcomings in their striking departments.

Arsenal was heavily linked with a move for the Spaniard during the summer, following Robin Van Persie’s decision to leave the north Londoners for Manchester United. Given the striker’s reduced price tag and the form of misfiring of Olivier Giroud, Arsene Wenger may be tempted to enter the chase once again.

Liverpool’s well documented striker shortage will have them desperate to recruit in the January transfer window, but it would appear that Juventus are in the driving seat in the pursuit of the Spanish striker, so Gazzetta suggest.

Bundesliga Star Holtby Open To Liverpool Move

Liverpool have been handed a boost in their reported pursuit of Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby, after the 22-year-old revealed that he would welcome a move to Anfield.

The Germany international is in the final year of his contract at Schalke and has been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League in recent months. Reports linking the creative midfielder with a move to Brendan Rodgers’ side have been particularly rife, given that Holtby’s father hails from Merseyside.

Arsenal have also maintained an interest in Holtby’s services, and German magazine Kicker suggest that interest from the Gunners and Liverpool is an “open secret” in the Bundesliga, and Holtby’s himself has recently suggested that not even family loyalties could dissuade him from joining Liverpool.

“I have always said that one day I would play in England,” Holtby said, ESPN report. “I wouldn’t even rule out Liverpool, even if it would be tough for my dad, - he is an Everton fan.”

Last week’s Holtby’s agent indicated that they had received several offers from England and Spain, declaring that a British club had made a “very interesting proposition.” Markus Noack, Holtby’s representative, concluded by saying that a move away from the Bundesliga side was not a certainty, with the possibility of a contract renewal still on the table.

Zenit Ready To Rival Liverpool For Signing Of Bilbao Star

Money bags Zenit St Petersburg are ready to enter the race for Liverpool target Fernando Amorebieta.

The Athletic Bilbao defender has been on the Reds' radar for some time now but they were priced out of a move for him when they were told they had to meet his £26m release clause.

But he is now available for much less with his contract set to expire in 2014 - and renewal talks not going smoothly.

The 27-year-old is also wanted by Roma, who reckon they can snatch Amorebieta for around £8m in January.

But now Zenit, who splashed out £64m to land Hulk and Axel Witsel in the summer, are also lining up a move for the classy central defender.

According to reports in Russia, they have already made contact with Bilbao about a New Year switch and have been encouraged by the talks.

Liverpool Plan £7m Move For Premier League Star

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has reportedly identified Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi as the man to replace current Reds No.1 Pepe Reina at Anfield.

Reina has seen his future at Liverpool consistently called into question since the arrival of Rodgers on Merseyside, as the Spain international struggles to get to grips with the new Anfield system.

According to The People, Rodgers has told his Liverpool scouts to find him a new first-choice shot-stopper, and the Northern Irishman's top spies have outlined Al Habsi as a top target.

Liverpool is now reported to be considering a £7 million bid for Al Habsi, which could come as early as the January transfer window.

Al Habsi began his time in English football with Bolton before transferring permanently to Wigan for £4 million in the summer of 2011, and has made 78 appearances for the Latics in total.

The 30-year-old has established himself as one of the Premier League's top 'keepers during his time at the DW Stadium and, it would appear, could be rewarded with a high-profile move to Liverpool.

Reina, meanwhile, has been a Liverpool player for over seven years after signing for the club following their memorable Champions League win over AC Milan.

The 30-year-old, who has been Liverpool's unquestioned No.1 since his arrival, has made 382 appearances for the Anfield club.

Cabaye Urges Liverpool Misfit To Return To Ligue 1

Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye has urged Joe Cole to consider returning to Lille instead of trying to force himself into Liverpool’s first team.

The former West Ham United and Chelsea star joined the Ligue 1 outfit on a season-long-loan last campaign after struggling to impress under Kenny Dalglish following his move from Chelsea. Cole enjoyed a relatively productive spell in France, but returned to England for this season, eager to impress Brendan Rodgers.

Things have not gone according to plan for Cole, however. The midfielder has made just two late appearances off the substitute’s bench for Liverpool in the Premier League, and recently suffered the indignity of being taken off at half time in Liverpool’s dismal Capital One Cup exit at the hands of Swansea City.

Newcastle maestro Cabaye, who netted a stunning effort against Liverpool at the weekend, has advised Cole to considering a return to Lille, the club where Cabaye himself seven years before his move to Tyneside.

"It is not easy for him because he does not play much," Cabaye told French publication L'Equipe, Reuters report.

"It worked well for him at Lille. Maybe it would be a good idea for him to return there.

"The club, the coach and the fans love him at Lille. I've heard that Rudi Garcia would be interested to have him back."

Brendan Rodgers was recently critical of Cole following his performance in the Capital One Cup, suggesting that the 30-year-old was not doing enough to take his chances in a rare start for Liverpool.

Liverpool Youngsters Aim To Replicate Carragher & Gerrard

Liverpool starlets Raheem Sterling and Suso have their eye on replicating the longevity of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, after being given their chances in the first team by Brendan Rodgers.

17-year-old Sterling has wasted no time in becoming an imperative feature of Rodgers’s side this season, and 18-year-old Suso is quickly catching up on him. The Spaniard was gifted his Liverpool debut in a clash with Manchester United at Anfield in September, and has gone on to feature in the first team with relative consistency since then, playing a role in important recent fixtures against Everton and Newcastle United.

Former Swansea City manager Rodgers has received his share of praise for the faith he has shown in his young prodigies, confidence which has transferred through to his young fledglings, who are now determined to become permanent fixtures in the side for many years to come.

“Raheem and I can give each other support and confidence," Suso told the Daily Telegraph. "Our wish is to be like [Steven] Gerrard and [Jamie] Carragher, to be able to play as many games and be a top player for so long. Playing with Gerrard and [Luis] Suarez is something I will treasure forever.

"In Spain, it is not normal for someone who is only 18 to play for the first team for a club the size of Liverpool. It never happens.”

The former Cadiz youngster was also full of appreciation for his manager, who has also turned to 19-year-old Andre Wisdom to take the leap from youth and reserve team football to the grand stage.

"But Brendan is one of the best people I have ever met and there is no time when he is not talking to you, when he is not trying to help,” Suso added, “You do not get the chance to play for Liverpool every day, so I knew I had to take it."