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April 1, 2012
• 8:30 AM
• St. James' Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 52363
Well everyone, that brings an end to today's LIVE play by play coverage of Newcastle vs Liverpool. It was a memorable day for the home crowd, as Papiss Cisse punished a ropey Liverpool backline with a clinical display of classy finishing. Pepe Reina got himself sent off with a ridiculous fake headbutt of sorts and now Kenny Dalglish will face a whole new barrage of pressure and difficult questions. And on that cheery note, I shall bid you all a fond farewell, and thank you for joining us.
So is diving purely for Johnny Foreigner then? We've seen Andy Carroll got down far too easily looking for a penalty after rounding Tim Krul and then James Perch make an absolute meal of Pepe Reina's headbutt. What happened to the days of 'when men were men' eh? Embarrassing efforts all round. Liverpool have now lost six of their last seven league games. They may have been unlucky a tad at the start of that run, but now they're just bloody rubbish.
A lot of the attention will turn towards Martin Atkinson in the aftermath of today's result. To my knowledge, he got two of the big three calls right. Carroll rightly received a yellow card for his dive and Reina deservedly got a red card for a moment of madness in going to butt James Perch. The one he maybe should have done better with was the Simpson handball on the line, but his view may have been blocked on that one, and he got no help from his assistant either.
Newcastle fans could be heard chanting 'you're getting sacked in the monring' at Kenny Dalglish at the end of the game. On this evidence, you can honestly see why. Liverpool were poor all over the park today, they lacked fight, belief and any sort of craft. Far too often they resorted to hopeful long balls up the pitch to Andy Carroll and Dalglish looked short of ideas on how to get the side back into the match. This has to be one of the slowest and least fit Liverpool sides that I've seen in years. The inquest, it appears, has begun, but will it be a post-mortem by this time tomorrow?
For Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish, though, this marked the team's worst performance of the season, which is saying a lot. Pepe Reina will now miss the crucial FA Cup semi-final against Everton after his red card, and after playing 183 consecutive league games, his record looks like coming to a premature and silly end.
Martin Atkinson brings an end to a game full of incidents and a great day for everyone involved with Newcastle. Papiss Cisse grabbed both the goals showing both great composure and instinctiveness. Ben Arfa, Williamson and Perch all deserve mentions for good displays and in the end, despite being billed as a close encounter, it was more of a stroll in the park for Alan Pardew's charges. Newcastle now go 11 points clear of Liverpool, who remain in eighth place now just below Merseyside rivals Everton.
90' + 1'
Hatem Ben Arfa
Jose Enrique is called into action in goal for the first time, clawing away an Ameobi cross.
If a Newcastle fan could have scripted today's game, it probably couldn't have gone any better for them. Bellamy and Carroll subbed after poor performances. Carroll booked for a truly rubbish dive. Jose Enrique forced to go in goal after a Reina red card and Jordan Henderson, you know, on the pitch doing what he does, which is mainly nothing, but enough to soak up the atmosphere of the defeat.
Suarez's free-kick on the edge of the box on the right-hand side is poor and doesn't even beat the first man. Spearing bursts onto the loose ball, though, but is crowded out in the box.
Newcastle knocking the ball around with ease and toying with a dejected Liverpool side to cheers from the home crowd.. What a miserable afternoon for the away support, though, and what a waste of money.
It just goes from bad to worse for Liverpool now as Dalglish has already used all three subs and Jose Enrique has been forced to don the gloves and go in goal. Pepe Reina will now miss three games through violent conduct, which includes the FA Cup semi-final against Everton at Wembley. A humiliating afternoon for the club.
Red Card Pepe Reina
Pepe Reina has seen red in a moment of madness. He spills a simple header from Williamson from a Simpson cross and as he collects and runs forward with the ball, James Perch goes to trip him up. Reina confronts Perch and leads with his head and Perch goes down like a sack of spuds holding his face. It's a rather patehtic attempt from Perch to get Reina sent off, but Reina should know better and you simply can't lead with your head like that. Moronic.
Yellow Card James Perch
Andy Caroll and Craig Bellamy go off and Jordan Henderson and Dirk Kuyt come on. Carroll started the game like a bull in a chian shop, but he's faded badly in this second half. Craig Bellamy was vritually invisible for the entirety of his performance. Don't worry though Newcastle fans, you have another boo-boy target in former Sunderland man Jordan Henderson to get your teeth into.
After Carroll and Gerrard both see shots blocked on the edge of the area in quick succession, Newcastle break at pace and Ben Arfa elects, rather selfishly, to go it alone, with Ba and Ameobi in support, but Flanagan manages to get back just in time and take the ball of him.
The home side look very comfortable at the moment and Liverpool look to have run out of both ideas and puff.
Stewart Downing has just come on to try and add some width and shape to this Liverpool midfield. This will probably be the last time his name is mentioned in this feed, as I fully expect another anonymous 15 minute cameo from a truly disappointing player.
Goalscorer Papiss Cisse goes off to a standing ovation from the home crowd. What a signing he's proven to be so far by Alan Pardew. Shola Ameobi takes his place.
This Liverpool side doesn't really work together off the ball. There's plenty of effort, but it's all down individually and one at a time which means there's never really any pressure on the ball in midfield. Oh how they miss Lucas.
That's not what you want to see, Andy Carroll on the right wing crossing the ball into Luis Suarez. The ball is nodded away with ease but with Liverpool players aplenty on the edge of the box, Suarez is played in down the left-hand side of the box, and cuts back, beating the sliding Simpson in the process, but his looped cross over Krul fails to find Gerrard and the chance is gone.
Jay Spearing has had a quietly efficient game today it's worth noting. He may look like a bulldog, but he has a surprisingly good range of passing on him.
Looking at the Liverpool bench, there's not a lot of game-changing pace or quality to pick from. Kuyt, Downing and Maxi Rodriguez may all be tidy players, but they're not going to unlock this Newcastle back four on present form.
Ben Arfa's superb run sees him take four Liverpool players with him, and as he cuts back, Ba is unmarked on the edge of the box, but his shot is closed down and blocked by Carragher.
Newcastle knocking the ball around with real confidence now and it's clear from this, that they think they've got the result in the bag.
Almost an immediate reply as Suarez rounds Tim Krul, who makes a hash of collecting a long ball with Carroll around him, but James Perch clears well off the line. From the resulting corner, Skrtel has a volley well blocked by Cabaye. Good response.
Assist Demba Ba
Goal Papiss Cissé
GOALLL! Cisse has his second of the match and he shows such composure to add to his tally. A lovely team move sees Ba roll the ball across to Ben Arfa, but Flanagan makes enough a nuisance of himself to get across, but Cisse is unmarked at the back post and rounds the onrushing Pepe Reina with ease and taps it home inside the six yard box with Skrtel stretched on the line. Very good goal, that.
The tempo is just cranking up a notch as Gerrard and Suarez both have long balls to Carroll cut out.
Shelvey runs a full 30 yards through the middle of Newcastle's midfield and with nothing else on, has a pop from the edge of the box that Krul comfortably holds on to.
Gerrard plays a neat one-two down the right with Flanagan and his low curled cross just fails to find Bellamy bursting into the box. Krul did very well there to get on the end of that ball and hold onto it.
Not to be out-done by Hollywood Gerrard, Cabaye tries an outrageously sweeping pass of his own that rolls out of play. Second half still waiting to come to life at the moment.
Skrtel has to hit yet another long punt forward to Carroll with nobody around him available. This Liverpool midfield is terribly static. Or another word for it, just downright lazy.
Liverpool try and play the ball out from the back, but Reina has to lump it forward with no Liverpool midfielder in sight to offer his services. Very poor.
Ben Arfa's looping cross into the box sees Mike Williamson hits the post with an angled header with Reina beaten and Newcastle are knocking on the door at the moment for a second goal to try and put this game to bed.
Yellow Card Cheikh Tiote
Martin Skrtel's hoof forward sees Carroll win another header, and Gerrard is onto it darting into the area, but Perch cuts it out and Newcastle survive.
Liverpool get the second half underway and Kenny Dalglish's half-time team-talk will have to have been a huge one to have any effect on turning this one around. Neither side has made any changes at half-time.
The more I see it, you know, the more I think Liverpool should had got a penalty for that Danny Simpson incident on the line after 15 minutes. If the ref sees it, he has to give Simpson a red card too, and a potentially game-changing incident has gone against Liverpool, as decisions of this sort have a habit of doing when you're in a rut.
It was an odd half in all honesty, Newcastle look dangerous every single time that they pour forward, but Alan Pardew's decision to select Jonas Gutierrez at left back has proved a troubling one for the home side, with all of Liverpool's joy coming down the Argentine's side. Dalglish's side, for the most part, have dominated possession, but the story of their season has reared its ugly head again, as they've failed to convert what little they've created. For the hosts, Cabaye, Tiote and Guthrie have worked well, and up top, they have a genuinely exciting strike-partnership that the back four are struggling to contain. So, plenty to look forward to in the second half then.
It's been a hugely frustrating opening half for Liverpool and Andy Carroll. The £35m man was booked for a ridiculous dive when put through one-on-one after rounding Tim Krul and he hasn't really had much of a sniff since. At the other end, Newcastle's new number nine, Papiss Cisse, nodded in his sixth goal in seven games with an excellent header at the back post, with Ben Arfa collecting yet another assist. There looks to be plenty of goals left in this one, though, and both teams look seriously ropey at the back.
Yellow Card Jon Flanagan
Hollywood Gerrard is here everyone. Jay Spearing turns excellently away from Tiote and gives the ball to his skipper, but with Suarez making a half-hearted run forward, Gerrard plays an outrageously wasteful pass that goes straight to Tim Krul and the move breaks down before its even really begun.
Andy Carroll wins yet another header but Danny Simpson does well to block off Suarez as Krul collects.
Cabaye's deep corner forces Reina to tip the ball away from right underneath his bar and as it looks to be going out of play, Jonjo Shelvey busts a gut to keep the ball in play, which as it turns out, was a seriously silly thing to do, as Danny Guthrie nicks it off him and delivers a superb cross that Cisse nods fractionally wide. Newcastle go very close to grabbing a second with half-time looming.
Luis Suarez chases back brilliantly to block another Ben Arfa cross, from a similar position to the one that brought the opener, and as he feeds it to Steven Gerrard and pegs it off down the left wing, the Liverpool skipper's passing range is seriously amiss and he plays it ahead of the striker and it rolls out of play. Frustration for the visitors.
Liverpool's midfield are simply giving into the temptation to hit hopeful crosses and long balls up to target man Andy Carroll now and their play lacks a degree of craft in the final third.
Cabaye's zipped cross-field pass just misses Cisse on the run and Reina collects. Carragher was all at sea positionally with that ball over the top, there.
Ba turns on a sixpence on the halfway line and he's bursting through the middle at pace at the back-tracking Liverpool back four, but instead of playing in Cisse, he has a strike at goal from a full 30 yards that's deflected behind off Skrtel with Reina scampering to get back to see it go out of play.
Ben Arfa looks full of confidence and his teasing, mazy run earns the hosts a corner with Jose Enrique struggling to keep up there.
To say that James Perch is struggling with Andy Carroll, both in the air and on the ground, would be something of an understatement. The visitors look like they've got a goal in them soon.
Jonjo Shelvey beats Gutierrez down the right and his cross just misses a diving Carroll in the middle. Wouldn't be surprised to see Santon or Taylor moved back to left back in the second half.
Yellow Card Papiss Cissé
The tempo has just dropped off a tad in the last few minutes and Liverpool are beginning to dominate possession.
An excellent sweeping team move sees Andy Carroll go close twice, first with a toe-poke and then nodding over with Krul in close attention. Jonas Gutierrez is having a mare at left-back today, but according to Diego Maradona, he's the best that the country has to offer in that position. Oh dear.
Liverpool are enjoying a good deal of joy down the Newcastle right, though, and Luis Suarez's cross narrowly fails to find either Gerrard or Carroll in the area.
Every touch that Jose Enrique makes is greeted with a chorus of boos. Seems a bit harsh, that. It's almost impossible to leave a club on good terms these days it would appear.
Ben Arfa's drives from midfield are causing the Liverpool midfield no end of problems, but his slipped in pass into the area just misses both Cisse and Ba.
The gap between the Liverpool back four and midfield is absolutely huge and the backline are playing extremely deep today, in an attempt to counter Newcastle's pace on the break.
Assist Hatem Ben Arfa
Goal Papiss Cissé
GOALLL! Papiss Cisse gives the home side the lead nodding in at the back post from a superb Ben Arfa cross. The Frenchman is allowed to cut back on the edge of the box onto his preferred left foot far too easily and his looped cross at the back post takes Skrtel out of the game and the striker's header goes in off the far-hand post with Reina rooted to the spot. Fantastic header and against the run of play, the hosts are ahead.
Tiote fouls Carroll as he bursts away inside the Liverpool half with the ball with a nice, friendly elbow to the stomach.
Yellow Card Jonjo Shelvey
That Simpson clearance on the line did look like he used his arm rather than his torso to get the ball clear. As the old adage goes, you've seen them given. Carroll well involved with that incident too, he looks well up for it today, the big man.
Craig Bellamy has a cross tipped over by Tim Krul, with Steven Gerrard in a great position coming into the box for the cut-back. Krul makes a meal of the corner, and Simpson clears on the line to help out his goalkeeper.
After a decent spell of possession, Demba Ba's curled cross from the middle of the pitch into strike partner Papiss Cisse is cut out by Pepe Reina. Ba has dropped a lot deeper since Cisse has come into the team in recent weeks, acting as much as a creator than a goalscorer now.
Martin Skrtel goes in the back of Demba Ba with what we shall affectionately call a 'reducer' but Cabaye wastes the chance with the ball in. Very lively, open game so far.
Yellow Card Andy Carroll
Andy Carroll is fully involved already and he bursts through past Williamson and toe-pokes it past Perch and he's through in one-on-one. But as Carroll knocks the ball past Tim Krul, and goes down, it looks initially as if Martin Atkinson has given a penalty, but no, the big man is handed a yellow card for diving and on second showing, he's got that decision absolutely spot-on. Why did Carroll hit the deck there with the goal gaping? Baffling.
James Perch gives away a free-kick in a dangerous position and Steven Gerrard's whipped in cross sees Martin Skrtel nod just over at the back post. Andy Carroll went down in the midst of that after being held by Mike Williamson. Nothing given, though.
Plenty of mis-placed passes and meaty challenges so far. Great back and forth tempo to this fixture already. Ben Arfa goes down in the area with a quite simply ridiculous dive under no pressure from Enrique, and the ref gives a goal-kick and rightly so.
Liverpool stroking the ball around nicely and Jonjo Shelvey has the game's first effort and his deflected shot goes behind for a corner. The hosts clear the corner after some shaky defending from Ben Arfa but Cabaye releases Ba away down the left with a fabulous ball, but his low cross into Cisse sees the striker caught offside. The atmosphere inside the ground is incredible so far.
Carroll leaps well above James Perch from a hopeful punt forward but there's nobody around him to collect it. One to keep an eye one I reckon.
Andy Carroll shows some nice feet just inside the Newcastle half, but his lofted pass to Bellamy down the right is way over hit.
And we're off as Newcastle kick-off. Andy Carroll's first touch was roundly booed by the home crowd.
Both sides are now in the tunnel now and about to be led out by this afternoon's referee, Martin Atkinson. The pitch is drenched with sunshine, and there are sub-plots aplenty for us to get our collective teeth into. Moments away now. Anyone else excited? I ruddy well am.
As the teams were read out, Carroll, Enrique and Bellamy's names were all greeted with jeers by the home crowd, with the Welshman perhaps bringing the loudest boos of all three. Something tells me the reception for Carroll will be less than peachy today.
We are now just under a quarter of an hour away from kick-off and a lot of the attention this afternoon will be focused on Liverpool's former Newcaste striker Andy Carroll. I think that it's fair to say, despite Kenny's best efforts to persuade us of the contrary, Carroll has flopped since his £35m move to Anfield last year, and with just five goals in 35 league games, he needs to start finding his form soon. Perhaps a return to familiar goalscoring surroundings will help him out today? In a season of strangeness, erm, stranger things have happened. So there.
So where will the key battles be today? I'm particularly looking forward to seeing an all guts, no glory head-bashing clash between Mike Williamson and Andy Carroll. Luis Suarez may already have given James Perch, a ropey centre-half if ever there was one, a few sleepless nights, and Jay Spearing will need to have a monster of a game to contain the seriously in-form Hatem Ben Arfa
Time for a few factoids to throw your way, as we all know the rather prickly King Kenny is a BIG fan of them, so you should be too. Papiss Cisse has needed just 17 shots to score his five goals so far, finding the net with an impressive 29 per cent of his shots. In contrast, Luis Suarez has required 81 shots for his seven goals so far, meaning that only 9% of his shots have ended up in the back of the net. Liverpool have lost their last three Premier League away game before today and last but not least, this is the first trip that Dalglish, Jose Enrique and of course, Andy Carroll have made back to St James' Park since ending their respective spells at the club.
Liverpool make three changes from the side that were humbled at home to Wigan last weekend, with former Magpie and £35m striker Andy Carroll coming into the line-up alongisde another former Newcastle player in Craig Bellamy who, makes a surprise return from a calf injury to make the starting line-up. Elsewhere, Jon Flanagan retains his place at right back and Jonjo Shelvey is handed a shock start, his first since the victory over Aston Villa back on the 18th December. It looks an attacking line-up from the visitors as Kenny Dalglish looks to turn around the club's poor form.
Newcastle make just one change to the side that beat West Brom 3-1 away last weekend, with Cheick Tiote returning to the starting line-up in place of injured skipper Fabricio Coloccini. It looks as if James Perch will be lining up against Andy Carroll at centre half today and that Gutierrez has moved back to left back, with the team starting with a midfield triumavrite of Guthrie, Cabaye and Tiote.
Liverpool: Reina, Flanagan, Carragher, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Shelvey, Spearing, Gerrard, Suarez, Carroll, Bellamy. Subs: Doni, Aurelio, Maxi, Henderson, Coates, Kuyt, Downing
Some team news to bring you. Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Perch, Gutierrez, Guthrie, Tiote, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Cisse, Ba. Subs: Elliot, Santon, Gosling, Ryan Taylor, Shola Ameobi, Vuckic, Ferguson
Good afternoon everyone, my name is James McManus and I shall be running you through the LIVE play by play account of today's match between Newcastle and Liverpool at St James' Park. It's definitely a huge game for both teams as Newcastle aim to keep the pressure on those above them with a victory to keep their slim hopes of a Champions League qualification place alive, while Liverpool bid to end a rotten recent run of form which has seen them lose five of their last six league games and pick up just eight points since the turn of the calendar year.
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