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Liverpool shine without Suarez

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Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring Liverpool’s second goal

Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring Liverpool’s second goal

Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring Liverpool’s second goal

Contrary to what you may have thought this week, Liverpool are not a one-man team. Rather than struggle in Luis Suarez's absence, Brendan Rodgers's side prospered with a performance and victory that highlighted the improvements he has overseen in his first season.

 

Contrary to what you may have thought this week, Liverpool are not a one-man team. Rather than struggle in Luis Suarez's absence, Brendan Rodgers's side prospered with a performance and victory that highlighted the improvements he has overseen in his first season.

In contrast, this was a defeat that brutally exposed how far backwards Newcastle United have gone since last season's fifth-placed finish – and they may yet find themselves falling into the Championship.

With three games to go the excuses are exhausted and the goodwill has vanished. Newcastle supporters can forgive a lot, but they cannot accept heartless, characterless and clueless performances like this.

Newcastle were not just beaten, they were humiliated and manager Alan Pardew is the man who will, eight-year contract or not, take the blame. He is fighting to save his job, whether he realises it or not. He can only hope he has enough in him to guide them to safety and then hope he can persuade owner Mike Ashley he deserves to remain in charge.

Newcastle were truly awful in the first half and went behind after two minutes. A corner clearance went straight to Stewart Downing, who chipped into the box. Steven Taylor dawdled as he moved to join the rest of the defensive line, allowing Daniel Agger to glance a header past the horribly exposed Rob Elliot.

Newcastle failed to rally and things went from bad to worse when they conceded a second inside the opening 20 minutes as Philipe Coutinho threaded an exquisite through ball to Daniel Sturridge, who drew goalkeeper Elliot and then rolled it square to Jordan Henderson, who could not miss.

Newcastle did gradually start to find some composure before the break and should have pulled a goal back when James Perch headed wide unmarked from five yards.

Pardew knew it was time to gamble and he threw on Hatem Ben Arfa and Yoan Gouffran for Perch and Jonas Gutierrez but when Ben Arfa lost possession on the halfway line, they were sliced open at the back, as Coutinho managed to squeeze a pass through to Sturridge, who finished emphatically.

That knocked the stuffing out Newcastle and Liverpool bared moved in for the kill, Gerrard spotting another run from Henderson, who returned the favour to Sturridge with a square pass he was able to nonchalantly control before slotting into the empty net.

Newcastle disintegrated completely, substitute Fabio Borini adding a fifth before Mathieu Debuchy got himself sent off for a stupid tackle on Coutinho. Henderson completed the rout straight from the resulting free-kick.

Telegraph

Irish Independent