Interestingly it was a midfielder who stole the headlines for Liverpool instead of a striker. Sure, Dirk Kuyt scored his first goal for the Reds but it was Xabi Alonso who was the key playmaker, threading a inch-perfect pass to Steve Finnan who crossed the ball in for Kuyt to slam it into the net.
Alonso scored Liverpool’s second goal with a cheeky shot from behind the halfway line that floated over the sprawling Newcastle keeper. The goal was very reminiscent of Alonso’s goal for Pool against Luton last season in the FA Cup.
Despite the win, it’s obvious that Liverpool still has problems. The home fixture against Newcastle is usually one of the most entertaining matches of the season, but this was mostly a drab affair in front of an unusually quiet Anfield.
To me, Liverpool’s problem is that they appear too one-dimensional when they’re on the attack. Too many times, it’s a long ball floated in from inside the half into the edge of the penalty area. Opposing teams can see right through the Reds, and time after time, they extinguish Liverpool’s attacks with ease.
Liverpool’s key to success this season will be to get Jermaine Pennant on the field who can run down the wing and get behind defenses, and can cross the ball back into the penalty area — creating havoc against opposition. We saw glimpses of how well this could work against Chelsea. And it gave Gerrard the freedom to do the same thing in equal measure down the left wing in that same match.
What Pennant needs, though, is consistency. He has the opportunity to be one of the shining stars in the Liverpool side this year, but he needs playing time. He wasn’t even included in the team of 16 tonight against Newcastle.