Liverpool headed into the final day of the 2013-14 Premier League season still in with a faint hope of winning the title, as they hosted Newcastle United at Anfield.
At half-time, Newcastle led 1-0 courtesy of a Martin Skrtel own goal, in a half of few chances at either end. Two goals in quick succession off free kicks turned the game, and the atmosphere, on its head, with Agger and Sturridge scoring off Gerrard set pieces to win 2-1.
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Liverpool first half analysis
The Reds began with a clear diamond in midfield once more, with Raheem Sterling at the tip. Although they were clearly looking to attack from the start, both full-backs were noticeable by how deep they sat out of possession in the opening stages.
Partly as a result of that, there was little width in final third for Liverpool and the tempo of the game was slow as a result, with everybody looking central.
As it was, the opening goal came from a run behind an out-of-position full-back, with another calamitous Martin Skrtel own goal the result—a minute after Suarez's strike was disallowed.
Things didn't really get much better for the Reds as the half wore on, with a series of misplaced passes, poor control and unimaginative running leaving them behind at the break.
Newcastle first half analysis
The Magpies started with a back five to both stem their own poor defensive form of late and also keep the Reds' impressive attack at bay.
Newcastle's big threat was with the runs from deep by Gouffran, who three times in the opening half hour sprinted between the centre-backs to chase onto through balls from midfield. Simon Mignolet did exceptionally well to deny him on the first occasion, which otherwise would have made it 2-0.
On the other hand, Newcastle looked to waste time as often as possible after taking the lead and Debuchy was booked after half an hour as a result.
Liverpool second half analysis
Rodgers made a change at half-time, replacing Flanagan with Aly Cissokho and switching to a back three, with Glen Johnson on the right of that trio. It pushed Sterling wider to make use of his pace in greater space.
While it didn't immediately yield chances, the next switch to introduce Philippe Coutinho saw Liverpool play with greater urgency, more invention and better movement in the final third. A pair of set pieces might have yielded the two quickfire goals, but they came from the better movement from Sterling and sub Coutinho.
Rodgers' ability to switch systems and formations has been a feature of Liverpool's season, and so it proved again against Newcastle, turning defeat to victory.
Newcastle second half analysis
Already ahead from the first half, the away side showed no intent to attack after the break, sat back in a rigid 5-4-1 shape. They rarely looked to break in numbers, instead frustrating the home side by way of numbers and slowing the tempo at every opportunity.
The two goals scored by Liverpool didn't change that, even when Shola Ameobi was sent off they remained in a 5-4-0 shape until Luuk de Jong came on some time afterward.
A failure to defend identical set pieces was their undoing, and they even almost conceded a third soon after to the same kind of delivery.
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