Emerging from the holiday season a slight bit heavier, I recollect on the football feast that has taken place weeks prior to the new year. The holiday season is always a crowded one, where depths of squads and the fitness levels of players are tested. As for the Red side of Merseyside, Liverpool faced a schedule that pitted them against manageable opposition, only to emerge with a draw 0-0 draw against Wigan, and a one all with Blackburn. Hardly the Christmas/ Hanukkah wish of the Liverpool fan. Liverpool is a team that of late has struggled to put chances away, and when Liverpool faced Newcastle United on friday they would be without leading scorer Luis Suarez out due to suspension.
One of the highest scoring fixtures in the Premier League era, former Newcastle player Andy Carroll would be looking to continue that trend leading the line for Liverpool in the Uruguayan's absence. A stop-start career since moving to Liverpool for a phenomenal fee of 35 million pounds, Carroll would relish the opportunity to sink the magpies. Having been robbed of winner last week by Blackburn's keeper Mark Bunn, Carroll's frustration continued into this game as he mustered only one real notable chance but his header rocketed back off the bar.
The two teams came into this game 1 point different with Newcastle sitting below Liverpool in 7th. Newcastle scored first with a freak- like goal headed on initially by Yohan Cabye, resulting in a ricochet off of Liverpool's Daniel Agger and into the back of the net. Oh no…here we go again I thought as a less than spectacular record at Anfield this year has left me a skeptical and bitter man. Liverpool have been the embodiment of mediocrity of this season dropping valuable points against lesser opposition. This said my woes where short-lived as Liverpool leveled via Craig Bellamy blasting a loose ball of a corner past Tim Krul in goal. Without many notable saves from either of the keepers, this game looked destined for a draw, which would have made it 5 draws in the last 6 home games for the Reds. With one of the best defenses in the Premier League, breaking down the center back pairing of Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel has proved a tough prospect.
Solid defending paired with a lack of scoring has been the formula for the bountiful draws that the reds have incurred his season. A formula foiled as once again Craig Bellamy hit a peach free kick that dodged traffic on its way into Krul's net. Bellamy had an immense game on the wing, starting in place of Maxi Rodriguez who performed well in the 1-1 draw with Blackburn, yet dropped this weeks dropped to the bench.
Possibly the signing of the season, Newcastle's Demba Ba nearly leveled the match reaching a slide rule pass in the box which he chipped over Reina from a tight angle, but the Super Slovakian Skrtel was there to clear it off the line with emphatic style.
Liverpool's central two of Charlie Adam and Jay Spearing operated well, with Spearing sitting the farthest back making the formation almost a 4-1-4-1 at times. Spearing was back from his Red card suspension and nearly paid the price for his tenacity again, as Cabaye straighten his leg and went studs up on a 50-50. With Newcastle deserving of being a man down, yet receiving no punishment Liverpool remained dominant in the center of the pitch. Adam was withdrawn and to the roar of fanfare from the crowd captain fantastic himself, Steven Gerrard emerged. Looking to put the injury woes of this year behind him Gerrard started the new year off right putting the game out of reach for Newcastle in the 79th minute running on to a Henderson pass and nut-megging Krul from an acute angle. Gerrard's goal made it 5 goals in his last 5 appearances against Newcastle, and now with a score of 3-1 the game was out of reach for Newcastle.
With the transfer window now open It's only natural that Dalgleish would look at his squad and take stock. The team has depth in most areas but with the injury sustained to Lucas and a Gerrard struggling with fitness and age, I wonder if some more reinforcements are needed. I have heard links with Fulham's Clint Dempsey, possibly looking to leave Craven Cottage in search of the next level. Versatile, hard working and an American International his introduction would be a seamless fit. American owner John Henry has brought footballing awareness to the States with his acquisition of Liverpool and with an American poster-boy of Clint Dempsey's stature, I would expect the American viewing audience to increase. Just say that the deal happened shits and giggles sake that would mean that with Landon Donovan returning to Everton on-loan, come the Merseyside Derby on February the 25th we could see the best current American players face off against each other…Tasty.
Luis Suarez is facing a possible 8 game suspension and Andy Carroll is struggling for form, plentiful draws, and a lack of goals being scored should be a sign to add another striker to the ranks. For me a loan deal might best suite the team as Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt will get their chances. Rumors of swoop for Villa striker Darren Bent has graced the pages of nearly every English news publication, the last couple days and it's a rumor I welcome. The unsettled English international left Sunderland for Villa after just a short spell with the black cats, and now could be move again.
The eve of battle is upon us as Liverpool will face Manchester City tomorrow at the Etihad, a game that can be viewed on ESPN. Don't be surprised if you see Steven Gerrard start from the beginning, proving once again his importance to the team against Newcastle. I think Dalgleish might go with Carroll and Kuyt up top together, with Downing and Bellamy on the wings. I see a tight game that ends in a 2-2 draw with some late heroics from a Liverpool player to salvage a point. Another draw is not what we're looking for but against City at the moment I would take anything.
That's your Liverpool fill for the week so enjoy it like you enjoyed your mothers pumpkin pie. Stay tuned for next weeks addition of Liver n'Onions