Three points is three points and Liverpool were definitely deserving today. It was an overall good effort that effectively shutdown the Newcastle attack. The bad news is that Andy Carroll didn't shine like I was hoping. We have been saying he needs a breakout game, but we can't wait forever.
I am also glad that for the first time in a long time, I am not writing a rant about an opposing keeper playing out of his mind. It's not the Tim Krul played poorly, he was just normal and that is something we haven't seen from an opposing keeper in a long time. Here are the ratings as I saw them, feel free to disagree. Happy New Year and be safe this weekend:
Reina - 6 - Little to do. Nothing he could do about the goal.
Enrique - 7 - Great game again. His defensive play was superb and he is very calm on the ball. Great game for him and the entire D.
Agger - 7 - I'll give him a 7, but barely. I don't know if he was checking Ba's prostate on his own goal, but he was a statue. At least do something, don't just stand there. He did make a few good runs forward though and won the free kick that led to Bellamy's second (even if it was a bit fortunate).
Skrtel - 8 - A rock back there and what a clearance off the line! Well done. He also did well to support Agger's foraging run's into the Newcastle half.
Johnson - 7 - He is clearly back in good form. That is great news for Liverpool, bad news for Martin Kelly who was really coming into his own. Johnson is defending well and supporting the attack down the flank. He and Downing do play fairly well together, even if Downing hasn't been spectacular lately.
Downing - 7 - As Sam pointed out, I would really like to see him back on the left. I think his great for early on can be attributed to him playing on that side of the field. He did run a lot, won a few free kicks and corners and put in a few crosses. Pretty much did his job and did it solidly.
Spearing - 8 - Oh Wee Jay Spearing, how I love thee. We got very lucky that he wasn't stretchered off the pitch. That aside, he was great. His distribution was fantastic; he slid a number of great through balls and tight passes into great areas and started Stevie's goal. His commitment maybe a bit of a liability, but I'll take that passion. We looked a much better side with him back in the line up. He really made things tick.
Henderson - 6 - This was one of his better performances, but unfortunately it was only for about the last 20 minutes of the game. The last 20 minutes were worthy of a 7. Unfortunately the first 70 were another absent display.
Adam - 6 - Not one of his better games although he did help Bellamy in scoring the first goal. I still would have rather seen Henderson subbed than him though.
Bellamy - 9 - Got a brace. Always looked threatening and his set pieces may be the most underrated part of his game. I definitely don't remember his set pieces being so good on his first spell. Then again, he was playing striker most of the time. Great game for the neckless wonder. He has made a very good case for being selected ahead of Carroll all the time.
Carroll - 6 - I think a 6 is generous, but I'll give it to him anyways. Just like Hendo, he was poor until the very late stages. I don't like him up top as a lone striker. He dropped far to deep to collect the ball, but didn't run at full lollop to get back with the play. I was already very irritated about this when it was being pointed out by the commentator. His touch was poor, especially on that perfect pass from Gerrard. He did hit the crossbar (sigh...another crossbar), but he didn't look particularly threatening for the majority of the game. Sure, he made a few passes, and had a few flicks, but that is not enough to say he had a good game. Those have to happen routinely throughout the game. As Roger Bennett from the Men in Blazers tweeted at half time, "Please Liverpool: sub Andy Carroll for One Large Christmas Pudding in Second Half to test which is more effective at leading the line." Or at the end of the game this gem, "Honest question. What is Andy Carroll worth his weight in? Apple cores? Used copies of John Terry's autobiography? Rabbit droppings?" I don't want to give up hope, but can't imagine he will have too much more time left to impress.
Gerrard - 9 - What a game. Only on the pitch for about half an hour, he took the game over; just as we have seen him do time and time again. He crosses were excellent and pinpoint accurate. He needs to hold school at Melwood. Scored an impossible goal after some great passing from Hendo and Spearing. Just an all around fantastic display. If he stays healthy, then I think we have a real shot at top 4. If not though....I don't even want to think about it.
Kuyt - 6 - Nothing too good, nothing too bad. It does make me slightly sad to see him getting pushed off into the periphery. I am a bit nostalgic, but beyond that, I still rate him higher than Henderson right now.