Martin Skrtel kept the very good Ba in his pocked for the better part of 90 minutes on Friday night and for this he is man of the match. It would be easy to look at the excellent Craig Bellamy as well but Skrtel made the play of tr game at 2-1 to make one of the best goal line clearances I have ever seen. Went it left Ba's foot I couldn't believe we had let Newcastle back in the game. They had only one shot at this point (on target) at that had gone in. Otherwise it was complete dominance by the men in red. When Skrtel somehow cleared the ball I thought maybe we would do enough to actually get three points at home.
The FA had robbed of us our most creative by suspending him for one game. I have no problem with the suspension itself, he clearly committed the act (and in this case they actually had evidence to prove it!). My problem lies in the consistency of the law being applied. I have seen 3 other pictures involving Cole, Rooney and Neville all making the same gesture, all with clear evidence, and nothing was done. If you don't think this is a coincidence you are only kidding yourself, all three are English, Suarez is not. Suarez suspension gave the opportunity to Andy Carroll to lead the line against his former club, with Bellamy and Downing on the wings and a three man middle of Henderson, Adam and Spearing.
Besides for a 10 minute at the start of the second half Liverpool had all of the ball but failed to make our crisp passing game count. It is a consistent worry for us but once Gerrard came on and Adam went off our entire outlook changed. Instead of playing hollywood balls or trying to beat an extra man (Adam) Gerrard did everything simple. Immediately Carroll looked a different player as Gerrard found the big Geordie un-marked 8 yards from goal and a very poor first touch let the big man down. Later on Gerrard played a fantastic cross to Carroll who smashed his header against the post, I had no problem with this miss as he attacked the ball, but the other miss was from a man short on confidence. I think Carroll biggest problem is he does not get into the box quickly enough after some decent build up play. At least 3 times I saw the big man walk or jog into the box when a winger had the ball. He needs to get a rocket up his you know what if he keeps doing that. It's not acceptable.
Henderson and Gerrard, fed by Spearing, combined for an excellent third goal with our captain marking his comeback with a well taken goal. Finally we were able to relax and enjoy the rest of the game. Downing had a great chance to end 2011 with a goal for the men in red but once again his shooting was way off the mark and the ball went over the top with the goalie out. Downing did well beating people but really needs to work on his final ball.
Overall it was a very satisfying 3 points.
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