Friday, November 9, 2012

Another Day, Another Draw: Liverpool 1 - Newcastle 1

photo by kevinzimvia PhotoRee

Correspondent Scott is even-keeled, and so is Liverpool:

Liverpool was back to their usual, brilliant underachieving ways last Sunday at Anfield.  After a lackluster performance the previous week against Everton, during which they ceded their possession crown and yielded to the false charms of the long ball, this week the Reds came out with an intensity and determination that immediately had Newcastle against the ropes.  If only they could throw a knockout punch.  Instead they seem content to throw artful jabs that demonstrate skill and the ability to win, without actually connecting solidly and putting the fight away.

The first quarter hour was a show of the best football by any team I've seen this season.  Raheem Sterling was brilliant, having secured the respect of the league's defenders who are now all wary of immediately stepping up to pressure the teenager for fear of being beaten by the faux-hawked phenom.  The team was pressing hard and winning the ball back quickly; the players were confident on the ball and moving it well; and the work rate was consistently high across the pitch.  Unfortunately, as the clock crept toward 20 minutes, the goal that seemed so inevitable did not come, perhaps not surprisingly given the goal tally this year.

So, while Luis Suarez once again amazed and entertained (and angered some), the exhibition so far lacked the substance of a finishing touch. Instead, it was the away side who netted the lead just before halftime through the efforts of their enterprising Frenchman, Yohan Cabaye, who combined substance AND form with his blistering half-volley.  Fortunately, Suarez is not one to be outdone.  As if to show his versatility, it was not clever dribbling or passing that led to his equalize goal.

Rather, ironically, it came from a Jose Enrique long, long ball in the 67th minute which the Uruguayan shouldered down in the box under pressure, touched to the side past a lunging Tim Krul and then tapped into the empty net.  So sublime was the skill and touch displayed by the toothy lightening rod of controversy that I watched it three times over and marveled each time.

But the maestro was not yet done.  A mere 3 minutes later, his serpentine dribbling and tenacity led to a layoff for Jonjo Shelvey who merely needed to solidly connect with the ball to score.  Unfortunately, the domed substitute has caught the "one-foot syndrome" from Enrique (see last week's column) and painfully muffed the clear opportunity, by trying to force it with his right rather than letting the ball run to his left, one of many missed by the home side on the day, thereby condemning Liverpool to another draw.

In the 84th minute, Fabricio Coloccini tried to stop Suarez the only way that seemed possible - with a studs up challenge from behind.  That he did not make contact was not for lack effort.  Alan Pardew may believe their was no malice behind his player's action, and he may be right, but it sure looked bad from what I saw.

This is farlieonfootie for November 9.

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