It’ll be a ‘miracle’ if Newcastle stay up this season. Not our words, but those of our own manager, Rafa Benitez. And on the evidence of this performance you’d find it hard to argue.
Anyone who didn’t know better would think he’d thrown this one. Hayden, Muto and Joselu in for the far more effective Shelvey, Perez and Rondon, even Murphy getting a run out. The truth of the matter is that he knew before kick off there are games to come where the inclusion of those lads is more likely to lead to points gained. Shelvey actually not match fit for this one and with Ki away the lack of depth is clear to see.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie (Murphy, 80), Diame, Kenedy (Longstaff, 73), Muto Joselu
Liverpool are in a different league these days. Unbeaten on the pitch all season. Having sat in the new stand to watch this one they are in a different league off it too. The facilities something to be proud of, the attention to detail in the the new stand just one signal of how the club values their fans. Form good and drink to the shape of the stand roof, capturing the noise from the home support and physically throwing it back in your face. Depressively impressive.
The game was a damp squib, from Newcastle’s perspective anyway. Even ‘the best player in the world’, Lovren, managed to score a cracker of the opener.
Liverpool dominated of course. 75% of possession by the end of the game, the pattern having been set from the opening exchanges. But despite the early goal conceded Newcastle did hang on in there. In fact Newcastle could have been ahead. A great cross from Ritchie round Joselu unmarked in the box but the Magpies striker headed tamely over and wide.
The start of the second half would put the game to bed. The slightest of touches on Salah’s arm from Paul Dummett sent the Liverpool player tumbling in the box, the referee, of course, awarding a penalty. You remember what one of those is, right?! Sarah slotting home of course.
From this point it should have been a case of damage limitation. No such luck. Further goals from Shaqiri (79) and then Fabinho (85) rounded off a thoroughly convincing display for the home side and piled more misery on the fans of Newcastle United. Not that it dampened the spirits of those who’d travelled, who’s support for the team was unwavering as always.
With a trip to Watford up next we will soon find out if the policy of resting the likes of Rondon was a wise choice. But with the manager looking down trodden and confirming he yet again has no idea what is going on with transfers, things are looking pretty depressing right now.