Blues dent Liver­pool’s per­fect league start

Sunday Sun - - Football -

and that he was at­tempt­ing to coax ad­di­tional in­vestors to join his con­sor­tium.

Kenyon him­self does not have the £300mil­lion-plus which Ash­ley wants, but the tim­ing of the news fil­ter­ing through was in­trigu­ing given the United owner had re­turned to St James’ Park.

Dur­ing the match, New­cas­tle fans made their feel­ings about the owner clear – chant­ing “If you hate Ash­ley stand up”, among other songs, about the bil­lion­aire.

Ash­ley smiled and raised his eye­brows as sup­port­ers be­gan stand­ing up, but surely he was not im­pressed by the foot­ball be­ing served up by the Mag­pies.

Even Ash­ley, who has ad­mit­ted him­self that he knows very lit­tle about foot­ball, must have re­alised on the ev­i­dence of the last two games that he has watched live that this squad needs sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in Jan­uary – and that the club made a mis­take by not ad­e­quately strength­en­ing dur­ing the sum­mer.

Well, a tale of one which was awarded as a spot-kick, and one which wasn’t, any­way.

Dur­ing the first rst half, when Maguire’s goal­bound shot smashed Yedlin’s raised arm, ref­eree Si­mon mon Hooper im­me­di­ately pointed to the spot. pot.

The New­cas­tle e right- right-back back was only a mat­ter of feet away way from Maguire when the Le­ices­ter cen­tre-half en­tre- half pow­ered an ef­fort on goal, but the Amer­i­can’s out­stretched arm did id block the ball – and so it is un­der­stand­able tand­able why Hooper deemed it to be a penalty.

But New­cas­tle e were de­nied what looked a per­fectly ectly le­git­i­mate penalty of their r own af­ter the break.

With the score­line core­line still at 1-0, Maguire aguire stuck out an arm m to block Perez, who had flicked the ball around the Foxes oxes de­fender, and nd ap­peared to nudge him down n to the ground.

Yes, Perez did d per­haps fall to the floor rather eas­ily, but there is no doubt Maguire caught him and pre- vented the New- cas­tle for­ward rd from ad­vanc­ing ng clear into the area. ea.

Hooper, how­evever, was un­moved ved “if you hate Ash­ley, stand up”, the bil­lion­aire merely raised his eye­brows and grinned.

Un­til some­one comes along with enough money to con­vince Ash­ley to sell, he is go­ing nowhere – and, more per­ti­nently, nei­ther is this New­cas­tle team at the mo­ment.

This dire 2-0 de­feat to Le­ices­ter City was just as alarm­ing as the 3-0 re­ver­sal to Wat­ford last sea­son. Not only were the Mag­pies beaten, they were bet­tered by the Foxes in every sin­gle de­part­ment.

Rafa Ben­itez ap­peared help­less at times on the touch­line – and his frus­tra­tion was pal­pa­ble when he swiv- once Perez was knocked to the he ground, and New­cas­tle were e not given an op­por­tu­nity to o equalise – much to Ben­itez’s s frus­tra­tions, with the United d man­ager mak­ing his feel­ings gs ex­plic­itly clear to fourth of­fi­cial cial Mike Dean.

Never be­fore have New­cas­tle tle lost their open­ing four matches at St James’ ames’ Park in a league cam­paign.

In fact, the win­less Mag­pies gpies have ac­crued just five points from the last 36 avail­able, if you in­clude the e fi­nal few games of the 2017/18 cam­paign, gn, too.

New­cas­tle have also lost t 11 home league games since the start of last sea­son, more than any other top-flight -flight side. Ben­itez has also lost a greater r num­ber of Premier League home matches hes at New­cas­tle than he did dur­ing his s 127 home matches in charge of Liver­pool er­pool and Chelsea. These sta­tis­tics make for de­press­ing read­ing, and it is ob­vi­ous the Mag­pies’ home form must im­prove mprove dra­mat­i­cally if United are go­ing t to avoid id a sea­son-long sea­son- long rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle. battl le.

On the ev­i­dence of this s game, how­ever, it is dif­fi­cult to see where that first fi­first win is go­ing to come from. elled around in anger in re­sponse to Joselu’s fail­ure to shoot when the for­ward was clean through on goal.

On the ev­i­dence of this, the Mag­pies are in an almighty mess. They have scored just four goals in seven games, are win­less in all com­pe­ti­tions this term, and have started a sea­son with four-suc­ces­sive home league de­feats for the first time in their history.

With a trip to Old Traf­ford to come on Satur­day, the like­li­hood is that New­cas­tle will en­ter the sec­ond in­ter­na­tional break of the sea­son with­out a vic­tory to their name.

That mir­rors Steve McClaren’s dis­as­trous start as Mag­pies man­ager – and we all know what hap­pened at the end of that cam­paign.

What is so dis­con­cert­ing is that New­cas­tle’s plight two years ago was well doc­u­mented; it was ob­vi­ous for ev­ery­one to see.

This time around, how­ever, the nar­ra­tive is be­ing blurred by fans’ de­sire for Ash­ley to depart, rev­e­la­tions in Kevin Kee­gan’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, and the on-go­ing un­cer­tainty over Ben­itez’s long-term fu­ture.

New­cas­tle’s on-field woes have crept up on some like a spec­tre in the night – and only now it is be­com­ing in­dis­putable that United are very much em­broiled in a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle with one of the weak­est squads in the top flight.

A new owner is de­sir­able, and it is quite frankly nec­es­sary – but it is un­likely to hap­pen any time soon.

Re­in­force­ments will be needed in Jan­uary, a new cus­to­dian must ar­rive at the club, and Ben­itez must be con­vinced to stay – yet they are is­sues which can­not be rec­ti­fied right now.

The im­me­di­ate fo­cus must in­stead shift to­wards the on-field crisis which is un­fold­ing at St James’ Park be­fore ev­ery­one’s eyes. That needs re­solv­ing long be­fore any­thing else – oth­er­wise New­cas­tle re­ally do risk be­ing rel­e­gated for the third time in­side a decade. SUB­STI­TUTE Daniel Stur­ridge hit a su­perb last-minute equaliser as Liver­pool fought back to earn a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in yes­ter­day’s late Premier League clash at Stam­ford Bridge.

The Blues had ended the Reds’ per­fect start to the new cam­paign with a 2-1 Carabao Cup win at An­field on Wed­nes­day night.

Eden Haz­ard, whose fine in­di­vid­ual ef­fort proved the dif­fer­ence on Mersey­side, put Chelsea in front in the 26th minute when he latched onto a through ball from Ma­teo Ko­vacic.

Mo­hamed Salah saw his goal­bound ef­fort clear off the line be­fore, in the sec­ond half, Liver­pool sub­sti­tute Xher­dan Shaqiri sent an ef­fort wide from six yards.

Stur­ridge, though, had the fi­nal say against his old club, lash­ing a long-range drive into the top left cor­ner with just a minute left – hav­ing only just been sent on.

Liver­pool’s late rally sees them stay sec­ond, level on points with Manch­ester City, who ear­lier beat Brighton 2-0.

Ra­heem Ster­ling set City on their way af­ter 29 min­utes, with Ser­gio Aguero wrap­ping up the points mid­way through the sec­ond half.

In Satur­day’s lunchtime kick­off, West Ham turned up the heat on Manch­ester United boss Jose Mour­inho with a 3-1 win at the Lon­don Sta­dium.

Af­ter their mid­week home penalty shoot-out de­feat by Derby in the Carabao Cup, the Red Devils once again failed to pro­duce the re­quired per­for­mance.

The hosts went in front af­ter just five min­utes through Brazil­ian Felipe An­der­son and an own goal from United de­fender Vic­tor Lin­de­lof dou­bled West Ham’s lead just be­fore half­time.

Striker Mar­cus re­duced the deficit.

How­ever, West Ham swiftly re­stored their two-goal ad­van­tage through Marko Ar­nau­tovic’s fin­ish af­ter 74 min­utes.

Eng­land cap­tain Harry Kane scored twice as Tot­ten­ham won 2-0 at strug­gling Hud­der­s­field.

Arse­nal left it late to main­tain their win­ning run with a 2-0 vic­tory over Wat­ford at the Emi­rates Sta­dium.

With nine min­utes left, Craig Cath­cart scored an own goal and then Me­sut Ozil swiftly slot­ted home a sec­ond.

Wolves’ en­joyed 2-0 home vic­tory over Southamp­ton.

Ever­ton pro­duced a strong sec­ond half to beat Ful­ham 3-0. Rash­ford

4. A tale of two penal­tiesHarry Maguire pulls back Ay­oze Perez in the penalty area 5. This is now the Mag­pies’ worst orst start to a league sea­son at St James’ es’ Park Joselu is chal­lenged by Wilfred NdidoNew­cas­tle United owner Mike Ash­ley in the stands

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