Until February 2015, Liverpool vs Newcastle was the highest scoring fixture in Premier League history, alongside Liverpool vs Tottenham. It now stands at second place with the 44 contests to date producing a whopping 138 goals – an average of 3.1 per game. Indeed, Reds and Magpies fans have certainly received their fair share of entertainment down the years, so as the two sides prepare to meet once again in the Premier League this Sunday, we take a look back at five of their highest-scoring top flight encounters over the past quarter-century.
The pinnacle contest between the pair still remembered by many as the greatest and most dramatic game in Premier League history, famed for Kevin Keegan’s legendary rant in the buildup coupled with the heart-breaking image of Newcastle’s emotionally distraught manager hanging over the advertising hoardings through exhaustion after Stan Collymore’s 92nd-minute winner.
Newcastle had twice gone ahead after Robbie Fowler’s opener through Les Ferdinand, David Ginola and Faustino Asprilla but Collymore’s 68th-minute effort created an incredibly tense final quarter, the third-placed Reds and the second-placed Magpies both knowing defeat would eliminate them from the title race.
Then came the moment Newcastle’s near misses in the title race inevitably became synonymous with; as Ian Rush and John Barnes exchanged one-twos en route to Newcastle’s box, the latter slotted the ball into the path of Collymore galloping down the left wing. The former Forest forward took one touch and blasted the ball past Pavel Srnicek. Pandemonium ensued, Keegan collapsed over the nearest available object, Manchester United won the title and the rest is history.
The lesser remembered 4-3 for obvious reasons. League superiority reversed when Newcastle returned to Anfield in the Premier League a year later, Liverpool this time in third and the Toon in fourth, but both once again were looking to cut down Manchester United’s lead at the table’s summit.
Although the seven-goal affair isn’t held in the same regard as its iconic predecessor, it was a thriller nonetheless as Liverpool sailed to a three-goal lead through Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Patrik Berger only to see it cancelled out in the second half as the Magpies, now managed by Kenny Dalglish, netted thrice in the space of 18 minutes – Faustino Asprilla memorably lobbing David James and the unlikely source of defender Warren Barton providing the equaliser in the 88th.
But the drama didn’t stop there as both sides pressed for the winner and it as eventually Liverpool who grabbed it in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Stig Inge Björnebye’s cross from the left wing falling perfectly into the path of Robbie Fowler, who headed past a helpless Shaka Hislop from point-blank range. For the second time in a calendar year, Liverpool had beaten Newcastle at Anfield by a 4-3 scoreline – but just like the campaign previous, it would be the Magpies who finished the season higher in the table.
Two seasons later and Newcastle were back at Anfield, once again finding themselves on the wrong end of a multi-goal thriller. Neither club entered the fixture in a particularly flattering position in the league table, both outside the top six and Newcastle in the bottom half, and that was telling of how the campaign would end for the two clubs.
Yet, the defeat felt more significant for Newcastle and scoring one less at Anfield than their famed efforts previously was very much a precursor of how the bubble was starting to burst on Tyneside. Ironically though, it was the Magpies who started the strongest, Nobby Solano opening the scoring with a rifled effort past David James before a lucky break saw Andreas Andersson take advantage of a one-on-one to slot beyond the Reds goalkeeper.
But Dietmar Harmann’s sending off between both goals always gave Liverpool a chance of getting back into the match and that’s exactly what they did. Boy wonder Michael Owen opened Liverpool’s account before later completing a brace, while the other two goals were provided by cult hero Karl-Heinz Riedle in a 4-2 win.
Fast forward to December 2008 and the dynamics of the fixture had very much changed. While Liverpool were still awaiting a first Premier League title but remained one of the biggest clubs in the top flight, Newcastle were suffering a rather ungracious fall from grace. In fact, they went on to end the season in 18th place, relegated to the second tier for the first time since Keegan had took them to the Premier League 15 years earlier.
Managed by the exceptionally unpopular Joe Kinnear – who had fittingly replaced Keegan in September after his last spell as manager ended in another resignation – Newcastle were always onto a hiding to nothing as Liverpool in contrast sat at the top of the table, ironically, lead by now-Magpies boss Rafa Benitez.
Liverpool broke the deadlock after half an hour as some fine work down the right from Yossi Benayoun and Jamie Carragher created a simple finish for Steven Gerrard, while Sami Hyypia soon added to the lead at a corner. Newcastle did peg one back through David Edgar, but that would prove to be the end of the resistance as Gerrard completed a brace with a deft lob, Ryan Babel took advantage of a goalmouth scramble and Xabi Alonso converted from the penalty spot.
Things went from bad to worse for Newcastle as Kinnear was struck down with illness in February and club legend Alan Shearer failed to stave off relegation after stepping in as caretaker manager.
A day Newcastle fans would rather forget as Liverpool hit them for six at St. James’ Park. That season and consequentially the result had little importance for either club; the Magpies taking their foot off the gas after securing survival and eventually finishing in 16th place, the Reds amid their first campaign under Brendan Rodgers and missing out on a spot in the top six.
Nonetheless, the result was very much a sign of things to come for the Merseysiders – the following season, they’d finish in second place and score over 100 top flight goals in one of the most fascinating and unpredictable campaigns of the Premier League era.
In this instance, they were without Luis Suarez after he’d infamously bitten Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, but his future strike partner Daniel Sturridge was marking his recent move to Anfield in style, grabbing a brace against the Toon – a tally somewhat more surprisingly matched by Jordan Henderson, who was played through onto an open goal for Liverpool’s second before netting their sixth with a curling free kick that somehow sneaked into the far corner.
The other goals were provided by Daniel Agger and Fabio Borini – but the common theme behind all six was the Magpies’ frankly abysmal defending.