Newcastle 2-0 Liverpool: Daily Mirror match report
Published 21:31 01/04/12 By Simon Bird
Kenny Dalglish chewed on the zip of his jacket as Liverpool’s humiliation unfolded – a man whose untouchable status at Anfield is punctured, perhaps beyond repair.
Discipline lost, heads gone, can Liverpool’s season have reached a more sobering, depressing moment than the final chaotic minutes at Newcastle yesterday?
The statistics mounting up against Dalglish and his side are damaging enough. Two league wins out of 12 in this calendar year. Six defeats in seven games, and three losses on the trot.
And one that might make Dalglish jump each time owner John W Henry phones – seven points in their last 10 games. That is six fewer than during Roy Hodgson’s last 10 games in a run that earned him the sack.
It was the manner in which his players lost their cool, in the face of Geordie teasing – on the pitch, and from the terraces – that was most embarrassing.
Keeper Pepe Reina was sent off for dipping his head into James Perch’s late on. The three-game ban rules him out of the FA Cup semi-final with Everton.
Reina then stormed off, gesticulation at Perch and offering the Newcastle defender a fight in the dressing room. The red card was deserved, but Reina claimed Perch hammed up minimal contact. Alexander Doni, yet to play a minute for Liverpool, will have to deputise in goal.
Then there was former St James’ Park hero Andy Carroll. Red faced, and close to tears when substituted, the Geordie barked f-word dissent at Dalglish and stomped straight down the tunnel.
“Frustration and disappointment” was how Dalglish summed up the reaction. Carroll will also want to forget the moment when he was booked for diving having rounded Toon keeper Tim Krul.
The heat is on Dalglish and Liverpool, now behind Everton in the league. Should they dip below their current position of eighth it would be their worst finish since returning to the top flight under Bill Shankly 50 years ago.
Further undermining Dalglish is that Liverpool have handed Newcastle £41million for Carroll and left-back Jose Enrique in the last 14 months, and have a team 11 points adrift of the Magpies.
Enrique walked out on Newcastle in the summer by tweeting they “would never finish in the top six”. He ended up in goal, and hearing 52,363 spectators remind him of that ill-advised quote.
Liverpool could still do a cup double, but the weakness in their squad, and the loss of form is alarming. As is their fruitless grasping for a pattern of play that suits their players. Carroll, as Alan Pardew later pointed out, being the biggest victim.
Unearthing a few decent players for their transfer mega-bucks would help Liverpool. That is what Newcastle have done, and Pardew has moulded a fluid, ferociously competitive and exciting team.
Match-winner Papiss Cisse is being compared to that most deadly of former Newcastle finishers Andy Cole, for his clinical poaching in the box.
He wanted to make an immediate impact at St James’ Park and has done so in style, his sixth and seventh goals in seven starts and one sub appearance a handsome return for a player just two months into his career in England.
Hatem Ben Arfa, showing the promise Geordies always believed he had, created the first goal.
The French winger collected the ball and jinked past Jay Spearing, before bursting towards Jonjo Shelvey and turning inside to cross to the back post. Cisse peeled off Martin Skrtel and directed a header back across Reina and in.
That was on 18 minutes and 40 minutes later, Cisse struck again. Yohan Cabaye played in Demba Ba on the edge of the box. He shook off a challenge and slipped a ball across the area. Ben Arfa was just too late to reach it, but Cisse collected the ball, put Skrtel onto his backside with a cutback and tapped home.
The visitors were bright enough early on and should have had a penalty, but referee Martin Atkinson did not spot Danny Simpson clearing the ball off the line with his arm.
Skrtel headed over from five yards after five minutes. Carroll dived after rounding Krul and was booked and ridiculed. Five league goals in 36 appearances is becoming a heavy burden.
Enough to make anyone swear in frustration.