Liverpool had zero control over the title race today with City beating West Ham 2-0, but they managed to divert the attention away from their disappointment to the magnificent season they've had on the whole as they defeated Newcastle 2-1 with a second half comeback, solidifying their place as runners-up ahead of much wealthier Chelsea. After a first half in which the Reds looked lethargic, beaten, and bound for another defeat of the spirit, the team found their energy after a pair of Steven Gerrard free kicks set up goals for Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge. Unfortunately, Luis Suarez could not break the Premier League scoring record, but that takes nothing away from his incredible season.
Predictably, there was loads of irrational hope at kick off, myself included in the wishful thinking, even though West Ham were never going to challenge City at the Ethiad. Last night I dreamt of an Andy Carroll winner, but then I woke up, and never had a reason to use the "last" button on my remote to even check how the City game was going. By all reports, the Hammers could barely escape their own half let alone trouble Joe Hart.
Yet I feel mostly positive right now despite the death of our improbable dream. Liverpool could have easily walked about aimlessly in the second half knowing the title was out of reach after Martin Skrtel slashed the ball into his own net, but instead they gave Anfield a fitting send off.
Brendan Rodgers replaced Joe Allen with Philippe Coutinho in the 59th minute, and the Brazilian immediately hounded Newcastle as they tried to pass the ball out of the back. Coutinho's liveliness seemed to push his teammates to push forward with more urgency, and a slew of free kicks were won by Liverpool because their increasingly aggressive play.
On one of the set pieces in the 63rd minute, Gerrard swerved the ball to the far post where Agger finished past Krul with an off-balance swing of the left foot. It was Liverpool's 100th goal of the season, but celebrations were momentary as Liverpool scored again on a set piece two minutes later, this time Sturridge the beneficiary of Gerrard's superb service. Things got a bit weird in the aftermath of the Sturridge goal. After the NBC replays cut away, viewers were greeted with the sight of Shola Ameobi seeing a second yellow and walking swiftly down the tunnel. After explanation from the announcers and a clip of Ameobi screaming at Phil Dowd to earn a yellow, then continuing the abuse to see red, it was clear that the guy had lost his marbles. In fairness though, we'd all probably get sent off if we were allowed a word with Dowd.
Newcastle were reduced to nine men when Paul Dummett unleashed a horrendous challenge on Luis Suarez that rivaled the idiocy of Kevin Nolan's red against Liverpool earlier this year. With that, the Reds happily passed the ball around in triangles for the remaining few minutes, curiously opting not to try and get Suarez his record goal. Liverpool finish in second place with 84 points and 101 goals scored. Not too bad.
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-I know this must have killed Gerrard. Glad that he was a huge part of the win and it's great to see the fantastic support he's received from Liverpool fans since the Chelsea match.
-No more Moses, no more Cissokho, possibly no more Johnson. Thank goodness. Meanwhile, I'm now hoping that Agger sticks around because Sakho didn't have that great of a year and Danny played well down the stretch.
-We'll have lots of end of season coverage over the next few weeks and then of course the World Cup isn't too far away. Stay tuned.
-Thanks once again to the community here for a truly fantastic season. You guys are great. If next year is even half as fun it'll be a great success.