United earned a well-deserved point off Premier League leaders Liverpool on a damp but vibrant afternoon at St James’.
Pardew surprisingly dropped Cisse to restore HBA to the starting line-up, strangely putting him up top and opting for Remy on the left. Liverpool, playing three centre backs and two attacking full backs were vulnerable down the wings and solid through the middle so placing Ben Arfa in the ‘false nine’ position that has become so hip recently seemed to be a smart, if unexpected move. Mbiwa was chosen to partner Williamson at the back and United otherwise lined up as we expected.
When the news filtered through of Colo’s injury I turned to my mate and said ‘we’re fucked.’ A heavy defeat was expected on the back of Liverpool’s early season form and our Jekyll and Hyde performances, not to mention memories of the chasing we got here back in April.
The game started well with United controlling and using the ball extremely well. Liverpool looked dangerous on the break and when running at our back 4 but on the whole we dictated proceedings without creating much in the way of goal scoring opportunities but the first 15 minutes passed without incident with the new Williamson – Yanga partnership standing up to scrutiny. Cheick Tiote circa 2011 turned up and was bossing the central midfield area with his one-time partner in crime Cabaye reminding us all of a beautiful time before last season when those two often out played and out passed 3 man midfields. All that was missing was Jonas winning about 15 free kicks a game and it was like being back in 2011/12 with our midfield deciding the pace of the game and going round Moses, Gerard and Henderson with ease.
Liverpool then forced a few corners – which we defended terribly and Santon headed a goal bound header off the line, Sebastian Larson take note. On 25 minutes Cabaye picked up the ball in his own half and carried the ball thirty yards from goal and unleashed a brilliant shot which nestled beautifully in the left hand corner of the Leazes net. A beautiful goal, which lifted spirits and the home atmosphere and St James’ was bouncing.
I was sitting in a box today rather than my ST place in the corner and I had an elevated view dead in the middle of the pitch. Yohan Cabaye runs this team. If he wants the ball he receives it. If he tells a play to pass backwards, he passes backwards and if he doesn’t want the ball he won’t receive it. Normally I watch him and I’ve noticed he’s a top player. He was average last year and had a season interrupted by injury and lack of fitness, but he’s a world class player. It’s obvious from the total respect he has from the other players that he’s just better than everyone else. He doesn’t show it often enough but when he’s in a decent run of form and fully fit and motivated he’s absolutely vital to this team. He’s clearly not as fit as he could be after sacking off pre-season to force a move but if we keep him fit and motivated, he’s a tremendous asset.
After the goal Liverpool didn’t really respond and we were comfortable with Suarez bringing a smart save from Krul.
Cue disaster on 43minutes when Tiote stayed down in our box and struggled to his feet. Krul signalled for the ball to be put out of play and Tiote ambled to his feet. Within 60 seconds Tiote had seemingly (I’ve not seen replayed) played Suarez onside for a ball over the top which evaded Yanga who touched Suarez on the shoulder and a penalty was awarded with the red card to follow. I thought Yanga had been excellent up until this point but it was a poor goal to give away. Who knows if he was distracted by Tiote or not but once Suarez got goal side he should have stuck his hands above his head and let Krul do what he could. You can’t blame Suarez for going down after he felt the hand, and Gerard put away the spot kick.
Half time was a dour affair as everyone I was with thought about what could have been.
The second half started and we expected Liverpool to fire out of the blocks. Dummet made his home debut and Sissoko was replaced. We actually started the better and right after half time Andre Marriner did what I fully expected him to do and failed to send off Steven Gerrard for a clear second bookable offence. It wasn’t a bad challenge, or late or even remarkable but ‘the laws of the game’ say that intent to obstruct an opponent warrants a yellow card. Gerrard’s dismissal would have given us the edge and yet again Marriner fucked us over – bottling cunt.
on 56 minutes we won a free kick which was expertly whipped in by Cabaye and the ball evaded Williamson who seemed to have three players marking him for Dummet to rifle home at the far post. Bedlam again as the ground erupted as the home grown talent got a great goal which lifted everyone. Amazingly we had a 3 on 3 situation with Remy, HBA either side of Tiote – he elected to shoot. I’m positive if he’d of played in Ben Arfa we’d have scored and won next seasons Champions League with Williamson captaining England to World Cup gory – or so you’d have thought if you’d listen to the bloke next to me who hates Tiote so much he was talking up potential relegation with that one poor decision to skew a shot horribly wide.
Thoughts of wining it lasted 15 minutes when Sturridge headed home at the near post and once again it looked like we could hold out as Liverpool offered little. The end of the game was backs to the wall and Liverpool should have scored, but they didn’t and despite the ref playing into the 97th minute we held onto a morale boosting draw.
Many beaming faces left the ground and we’d seen what was missing against Hull – effort and commitment all over the park. The players played for the shirt and for Pardew today and he got his tactics and subs spot on (there are still people who boo when Cabaye is taken off, despite him clearly blowing hard after 70 mins of each game – morons). We didn’t exactly get revenge or rid the ghosts of April but a different Newcastle United was on the field today.
We know have a week to prepare against Paolo’s Red n’ White Army – erm – Bally’s boys – sorry Gus’ lads who were humiliated today. We owe them not just for the 3 nil but also for the ludicrously lucky result they got at their place last year when the gulf in class was scarily evident until Tiote saw red last season. I’m not one for making big bold predictions but if we beat them they will get relegated. They will need 39 points in theory from 31 games. They have away games against Man U, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal and Tottenham to come not to mention the home games against a few big teams. Realistically they’re looking for 39 points from 24 games – which is Champions League form – if they got beat off us.
There’ll be 3,000 of us there and I’m expecting us to put right a lot of wrongs
Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Mathieu Debuchy, Davide Santon, Chieck Tiote, Mike Williamson, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Yoan Gouffran, Yohan Cabaye (Vurnon Anita 78), Hatem Ben Arfa (Sammy Ameobi 78), Moussa Sissoko (Paul Dummett 44), Loic Remy.
Unused Subs: Papiss Cisse, Rob Elliot, Shola Ameobi, Gabriel Obertan
MOTM – Cheick Tiote 2011 look a like
Our Fans – 8 – genuinely loud for some parts of the game
Their fans – 6 – great numbers for a 12.45 but a third of them left before full time. Why?