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Liverpool held to a draw at home once again as Newcastle pick-up crucial point

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luis_suarezAn incredibly entertaining game of football between Liverpool and Newcastle United ended with the teams having to share the spoils as the Reds bossed every single statistic possible except for the one that really mattered. Liverpool dominated the match from start to finish, but fell behind to an exquisite finish from Yohan Cabaye in the 43rd minute. Luis Suarez scored his tenth goal of the season to bring Liverpool level mid-way through the second half, and despite having a man advantage for the last 10 minutes or so when Fabricio Coloccini was shown a straight red for an attempted high boot on Suarez, Liverpool were unable to make their chances count.

Liverpool lined up in what is becoming a rather customary 4-3-3 formation, with Raheem Sterling and young Spaniard Suso providing the width alongside Suarez. Steven Gerrard was honoured pre-game as he made his 600th appearance in a Liverpool shirt, and he partnered with on-loan Turk Nuri Sahin and summer signing Joe Allen in what was a rather flat midfield three. Jose Enrique lined up at left-back against his former club while young Andre Wisdom got an extended run on the right. The reliable firm of Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel offered protection to Aussie keeper Brad Jones.

Newcastle attempted to go like for like against Liverpool with Demba Ba playing through the middle up top with Papiss Cisse and Hatem ben Arfa offering width. Yohan Cabaye lined up alongside Jonas Gutierrez while James Perch sat in front of the back four. Summer signing Vurnon Anita was deployed at right back to cope with the pace of Sterling, while Davide Santon, Coloccini and Steven Taylor completed the back four. Tim Krul was the steady presence in goal.

The first half was all Liverpool with the hosts playing some beautiful attacking football, stringing together some neat passes with Sterling and Suso in particular a delight to watch. Everything was being routed through Suarez, who was pulling the Newcastle defenders, Colocinni in particular all over the pitch. The first 10 minutes saw the home side lay seige on the Newcastle goal, but thanks to some excellent defending from the center-backs, and some good mopping up from Perch, Krul was barely called into action.

For all their good play though, Liverpool were not without fault, with Suarez and Sterling looking to go down at the slightest contact, and the former far from willing to pass the ball, taking on shots from near impossible angles, despite having others better placed. Liverpool also failed to get any of their three midfield men as far up the pitch as they would have liked, with Allen content to sit and Gerrard playing in a deeper Xabi Alonso-type role, leaving Nuri Sahin as the farthest man forward on many an occasion, but lacking the ability in the final third.

James Perch had to be withdrawn midway through the first half with what appeared to be a thigh strain, bringing Danny Simpson into the fray at right back and Anita moving into a defensive midfield role. That helped Newcastle's play immensely as Simpson was stronger physically, helping keep Sterling in check, while Anita's distribution skills were far superior to that of Perch, who is obviously better at the defensive side of the role.

Newcastle grabbed the lead completely against the run of play, with Ben Arfa making a rare dart forward, and getting to the bye line on the right wing. His cross though appeared to have been overhit and missed both Ba and Cisse, however, Cabaye was on hand beyond the far post, where he had ample time to take a touch and smash the ball past Jones with an unstoppable effort.

Newcastle led heading into the break and this was threatening to become another one of those days for Liverpool.

The Reds to their credit came out even more charged up after the break, but their delivery on set plays, especially corners was awful as they just kept putting the ball into the box, and were continuously being met by a Newcastle head.

The Magpies though suffered a major blow when top scorer Demba Ba limped off in the 49th minute, for all practicaly purposes ending the little threat Newcastle had offered in this contest. Shortly after, Papiss Cisse was limping too, having been felled by an awful challenge from Sterling, who was more than a little fortunate not to be booked.

For all their possession though, Liverpool were never really close to beating Krul till they eventually did. It was route one football at its best as a long ball from Jose Enrique caught the Newcastle center-backs napping, and two fantastic touches from Suarez later the ball was in the back of the net. It was an exceptional finish from a man who thankfully for Liverpool just can't stop scoring at the moment.

Liverpool were clearly energized by the goal and should have been ahead 4 minutes later as Suarez (finally) squared the ball for Jonjo Shelvey, who had just come on for Suso, but the former Charlton man fell backwards as he attempted to make contact with the ball, spurning a gilt-edged opportuity.

Moments later, Sterling was momentarily through on goal but took too long to get his shot away and Steven Taylor came to Newcastle's rescue with a sliding block.

It was all Liverpool for the last 20 minutes as they bombarded the Newcastle goal with everything and with Shelvey playing in the hole behind the striker, the youngster had three terrific opportunities to bury the game.

The sending off for Coloccini, who had probably had enough of Suarez making him look silly, didn't help Newcastle one bit, but the Magpies held on for a draw, which based on their defensive effort Alan Pardew will probably say they deserved.

It was just the third tiime in their last 18 visits to Anfield that Newcastle left with something to celebrate, which considering Liverpool had 60% of the ball, 13 corners and 20 shots is rather fortunate. However, as luck would have it, the Reds had to be satisfied with yet another draw at home, but the improvement in quality of Liverpool's play is there for everyone to see, and it is probably only a matter of time (and the purchase of another striker) that is separating the Reds from climbing up the table.

The point didn't really do much good for either side as Newcastle continue to stay 10th, while Liverpool climb up a place to 12th. Both sides will return to Europa League action in midweek.


Liverpool: Jones, Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Allen, Sahin (Downing 74'), Suso (Shelvey 66'), Suarez, Sterling.

Subs: Gulacsi, Assaidi, Henderson, Coates, Downing, Carragher, Shelvey.

Newcastle: Krul, Anita, Steven Taylor, Coloccini (sent off 84'), Santon, Perch (Simpson 26'), Cabaye (Ferguson 68'), Gutierrez, Ben Arfa, Cisse, Ba (Ameobi 49').

Subs: Harper, Simpson, Williamson, Shola Ameobi, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson.

Final Score: Liverpool 1-1 Newcastle United (Cabaye 43', Suarez 67')

File Photograph CopyrightDanny Molyneux