Friday, 1 May 2009

The Troublesome Trip

A change of tact this week, the focus is solely on Sunday's trip to Anfield, but instead of repeating how this is a 'must win' game (which it is), I thought I'd reminisce about the arguably the most enthralling of Premier League fixtures.

Arsenal vs Manchester United? Merseyside Derby or perhaps the North London Battles?

Nope, none of those, Liverpool vs Newcastle, a fixture that always produces goals.

Cliché? Maybe. But there hasn't been a nil-nil draw in this fixture since the 1973/74 season, on top of that they truly provide the kind of entertainment that the Premier League is famous for, and the kind of football that English fans are proud to export to the world.

One fixture in particular stands out in the memory. In successive seasons, the attacking prowess of Newcastle was met with the never say die attitude of Liverpool at home.

As Kevin Keegan's Newcastle powered through the Premier League season and towards what was seeming ever more inevitably, their first Premier League title he met a Liverpool side who refused to lie down.

A slow start by the Magpies saw Robbie Fowler, steal in to grab a goal after just two minutes for Liverpool, but this little slip was soon corrected by the title contenders as first Les Ferdinand and then David Ginola scored to reverse the scoreline by 14 minutes.

During this season, it was expected that Newcastle, even against the might of Liverpool, would go onto win once they had their nose in front in any fixture.

However on this occasion their need to attack and play as if they have just one minute left in the cup final despite the score let Liverpool in again and Fowler picked up a second goal just after half time to bring Liverpool level.

A flurry of attacking exchanges eventually ended in a Newcastle goal through Colombian striker Faustino Asprilla, Newcastle were ahead again and now it was over...only someone forgot to tell Liverpool.

Stan Collymore poped up on the 68th minute and set up a thrilling finish.

Come the 90th minute and as Ian Rush and John Barnes exchange two yard passes to slowly zig-zag their way into the Newcastle box, eventually the ball bobbles towards the back post and "Collymore's closing in!" screams Martin Tyler.

Kevin Keegan hangs his head over the advertising board in disbelief, an iconic image of the Premier League and an iconic match for the Premier League scrapbook.

The following season saw an arguably more remarkable match where Newcastle battled back from a three goal half-time deficit, to seemingly snatch a draw with two minutes to go.

Only for Robbie Fowler to break Geordie hearts in the same place as the previous season with a stoppage time winner.

This season Newcastle fans saw a dominating display from the opposition as Newcastle shipped five goals in a crushing defeat, and only managed to produce one goal in response.

This weekend may not see a repeat of these classic fixtures, but I can solidly speak for one member of the Toon army when I say that a one-nil victory with a goal off Michael Owen's backside will do for me.

Howay the lads!

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