There may be a sizeable chasm between the two sides based on their current Premier League pedigree, but that is not to diminish the historical match-ups between Newcastle United and Liverpool, that have, on occasions, mutated from high pressure games into genuine dramatic narratives.
Here, we look at 5 classic games between the two sides, ahead of this weekend’s game at lunchtime on Saturday.
Liverpool 4 – 3 Newcastle, April 1996
It’s the obvious choice to start with, but there is a reason for that. Kevin Keegan’s side had dramatically let a firm grip on the title race slip. Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side had reversed the position of dominance, and Newcastle were in need of a win at Anfield.
The 12 point lead Keegan’s side had, was assailable after all, and this game was about reigniting a title challenge.
The tempo was set from the beginning, a very early goal after two minutes from Robbie Fowler, was cancelled out less than 10 minutes later by Les Ferdinand, quickly followed by a fine finish by David Ginola.
Fowler then equalized before Faustino Asprilla put the visitors ahead again.
Asprilla, ironically had had a part to play in Newcastle’s league slump. Despite his quality, his arrival two months previously in February, had forced Keegan to change the teams tactical approach to games, in turn breaking their momentum.
Momentum in this game swung Liverpool’s way when Stan Collymore equalized again. John Barnes and Ian Rush were involved in some intricate build-up play before Barnes saw Collymore in space who rifled home.
Kevin Keegan, one hand on the advertising hoarding, had his head bowed. He knew this could be the end of their title chances. Ultimately, he was right.
Liverpool 4 – 3 Newcastle, March 1997
In it’s own right, another classic. It could never quite match the intensity of the previous season’s encounter, but it didn’t make too bad a stab at replicating it.
Keegan was gone and in his place was another Liverpool legend in Kenny Dalglish.
Goals from Steve McManaman, Fowler and Patrik Berger had put Liverpool into an untouchable lead. Well, so it seemed.
Keith Gillespie’s goal on 70 minutes seemed little more than a consolation. But Asprilla then injected more optimism into chances of a come-back, before full-back Warren Barton popped up to be the unlikely hero with an 88th minute goal to level matters.
But Barton’s hero status diminished, when Fowler headed home and ensured another defeat, that was hard to stomach for Newcastle’s travelling army.
Newcastle 3 – 0 Liverpool, November 1993
Having gained promotion and a return to top-flight football, Newcastle, under Keegan, showed genuine title credentials in the 1992/93 season.
A lot of that was down to Andy Cole, who had a phenomenal season, scoring 41 goals in all competitions and rightly securing the PFA Young player of the Year award. This game was a thorough indication as to just how effective Keegan’s side were, and a blistering 30 minutes at St James’ Park saw Cole secure a hat-trick.
The gulf in class in the match was reflected in how the two sides ended the season. Liverpool were 17 points adrift of Newcastle in eight. Newcastle finished 3rd. But even before this game the cracks were showing in Liverpool’s resistance; they had lost all four of their league games in September. So this result was less a surprise and more an endorsement as to the trajectory the respective clubs were following at the time.
Newcastle 1 – 4 Liverpool, August 1998
This game garnered another hat-trick, this time it was teenager Michael Owen, fresh from his exploits at that summer’s World Cup in France, where he captured the imagination of the English faithful with some sublime performances, including that wonder goal in a second-road game in St Etienne.
And just as the Argentinians struggled to cope with Owen’s movement and pace, Ruud Gullit’s arrival as Newcastle manager was not enough to inspire his side into action, despite a goal from Stephane Guivarc’h.
Guivarc’h had joined the club following his part in France’s World Cup success on home turf, and despite not finding the back of the net in that tournament, he did in this game. It was though, against the run of play, and in the 32nd minute Owen completed his hat-trick.
Berger finished off the scoring and by half-time, at 4-1, the game was over as a contest, despite further endeavours from Guivarc’h and Alan Shearer.
As a performance though, it was a lesson in style, pace and fluidity. And an opportunity for Owen to continue to capture the imagination.
Newcastle 3 – 1 Liverpool, December 2010
Chris Hughton’s sacking in December 2010 didn’t go down well. Not with supporters nor neutrals alike. In fact, shortly before this game, a number of Newcastle fans protested vociferously against the appointment of Alan Pardew; another decision by Mike Ashley that ensured Newcastle fans were bereft of belief as to the future of the side.
But things couldn’t have gone better for Pardew. Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan were driven and busy, in fact, it was Nolan who gave the hosts the lead. And while a Dirk Kuyt goal evened things up, the draw that seemed destined, was disturbed by Barton.
Andy Carroll, maybe planting a seed in the Liverpool collective conscience of what he could offer the side, struck a long-range effort that secured the points and a satisfying days work for their new manager.
There were some protests still after the game against Ashley, but for drama, Newcastle can rarely be beaten. At least for this afternoon, for the most part, it was the right sort of drama.
Read Also: Football’s Ultimate Shithouse XI