No International Hangover

3-nil.

After the unfolding midweek drama between Rafa and G&H, the team responded positively by comprehensively beating an utterly piss-poor Newcastle team. But despite the lack of quality put up by the opponents, we all know that certain teams in red have been known not to dispatch inferior opponents on previous occasions, so three goals and a clean sheet were a welcome Thanksgiving dessert.

On the flip side, it wasn’t exactly a Liverpool performance that would have earned them much against a top side, but I suppose that’s besides the point. The team did more than enough to win the game, basically rendering it to one-way traffic with maybe a collective three minutes where Newcastle threatened Pepe and the backline. But, I would hope that the team will generally play sharper when we line-up against Porto mid-week.

Sissoko looks to have reverted to his offensive retardation as, in the first half, he was often further up the field than Lucas, doing his best to muck up Liverpool possession. But, he made strong challenges defensively throughout the match, so I won’t gang up on him too much. Otherwise, everybody else turned in solid performances.

It doesn’t appear as there’s much of an English hangover for Stevie G. He notched his sixth goal in seven matches and turned in a familiar energetic performance. His free kick was restaurant quality and gave Given no chance.

(pic: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

torreswide.jpg

Torres was supremely unlucky not to find himself on the scoresheet. He created chance after chance, but the stars were aligned against him today. On the other hand, Kuyt was handed a goal after Sami did the lion’s share off the corner.

Babel was sharp in his subsitute’s role. He notched a quality goal and flashed another one wide. He seems like a shot in the arm to the side when he steps on late, as opposed to his lessened impact in a starting role. Rafa will no doubt look to get more of out him over 90 minutes.

Quite simply, the score could have gotten out of hand if not for a few inches and the odd bounce of the ball. But, it was a quality three points and take us third, three points behind Arsenal.

I’d usually include quotes, but both Stevie G and Rafa had nothing of real interest to say outside of the usual company line jive.

Read the Official Site’s match report.

Stevie G’s wicked free kick goal.

Kuyt’s fortunate knee-ball.

Babel knocks one home.

Links courtesy of 101GreatGoals, where you can also watch other non-goal highlights of today’s match (amongst all the other match highlights they post).

My thoughts on the match:

  • Lucas got a (surprise?) start along with Harry Kewell. That certainly piqued my attention. Finnan also returned to action. Torres, thankfully, was also back amongst the starting XI. Agger, however, couldn’t find himself a place on the bench.
  • Viduka alongside Martins for the Barcodes. I still remember that game for Leeds when he fired four past us. *grumble*
  • Where’s Michael Owen? Oh, that’s right, it’s a day that ends in ‘-ay’ so that means he’s injured.
  • The commentator on a shot of Newcastle’s big wig: “He’s the one in the replica jersey. Extra, extra large by the look of it.”
  • On a counter-attack, Kewell to Kuyt to El Nino, who made a meal out of Rozehnal in the box, only to lead himself a bit too much. (Ah, foreshadowing)
  • The first 15 minutes were mostly Liverpool, but unfortunately were not massively impressive or full of imagination. (Ah, foreshadowing again)
  • Interesting that when Liverpool have possession outside the Newcastle box, it’s Kuyt who was wide on the left and Kewell who took up position inside.
  • Sissoko continues to underwhelm in terms of productivity on the ball. The word ‘liability’ comes back to mind.
  • “You know you’re in trouble when Jamie Carragher gets forward for a shot!”
  • Maybe it’s the kid in me, but I always enjoy seeing players swear on TV. We got a quality shot of Emre yelling “Fuck off!” after clipping Torres.
  • Gerrard drills the resulting free-kick home and Liverpool are up 1-0! That badboy was practically upper 90.
  • I like to see Kewell playing on both flanks. Especially considering he was the only winger on the pitch.
  • Finnan wasted a wonderful chance, skying a cross under absolutely no pressure.
  • Torres should have scored after Shay Given inexplicably comes outside the 18 to try and snuff out a break-away. Given knocked the intial chip down, but Torres got the ball back after Kuyt’s intervention and hit the post from twenty-some out. Cruel.
  • Halftime comes, and with the exception of a few minute span where Arbeloa kept putting the ball out for Newcastle throw-in’s, Newcastle were quite poor.
  • Liverpool got the second half started correctly as Kuyt touched Hyypia’s flick from a Gerrard corner into the back of the net. 2-0 and Newcastle were obviously going to have some serious problems getting themselves back into the match.
  • Joey Barton got a hero’s welcome under a chorus of boos from the Newcastle faithful when he replaced Emre 50 minutes in. Dangerous, that is. He might moon you or put a cigar out on your face.
  • Babel for Kewell after 58′. Good effort by the Aussie, who doesn’t limp off. I’m pleased (enough) with his performance. He’s inching towards top form. Keep that one wrapped in wool.
  • Torres went wide from 8 yards out. Minutes later he disposes of Rozehnal from practically a stand-still, but Given bails out his defender. El Nino truly deserved a goal for his efforts on the day.
  • Babel and Gerrard exchange a few neat passes and the young Dutchman ended up burying the ball from 12 yards out. Stevie G looked genuinely overly excited for his teammate.
  • Lucas had a quality run-out as a holding midfielder. Granted, it was against sub-par opponents, but he looked comfortable.
  • Gerrard fed Torres a sublime ball, but it just wasn’t El Nino’s day as he was denied again. On another day, he could have had four or five goals. But, bad luck aside, he was extremely dangerous all match.
  • “This is quite possibily the most one-sided Premier League game we’ve seen in a long time”
  • Riise for Kuyt in the 76th minute.
  • Crouch for Gerrard after 80.
  • Reina produced a quality save on an offsides Viduka to keep the cleansheet. In fact, most of the opportunities involving the fat Aussie found him in an offsides position.
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