Newcastle were unspeakably dreadful, Liverpool played like a fluid group of sporting deities. Luis who?
That was, we're told, Newcastle's worst home defeat since 1925. Incredible. It was an excellent Liverpool performance, really dynamic stuff. If the upshot of Suárez's suspension is Coutinho playing through the middle with Sturridge ahead of him, I look forward to seeing if anyone else is better at doing anything about it than Newcastle were today. As for Newcastle, well, if Perch converted his easy first-half header … well … who knows. Perhaps they would have lost 6-1. Haidara had a poor game, but this was lost in front of the back four, in the space where Coutinho and anyone else in red who fancied a go frolicked at their leisure. Though the back four have got to be blamed for the first goal, probably the most hideous of the lot. It was a performance without redeeming features, really. Lots of fun for the neutral, mind. Thanks for sharing it with me. Bye!
90+3 min: It's all over, and Newcastle finally get the chance to retreat to the physio's room for treatment to their soundly kicked arses.
90+2 min: Liverpool are passing the game to death. Newcastle's fans, those who remain, are inhaling, and preparing for a genuinely heartfelt boo.
90 min: There will be at least three minutes of stoppage time here.
89 min: "Scoring six goals is all well and good but Glen Johnson's yellow card threatens Liverpool's chances of overtaking Arsenal at the top of the fair play table," moans Peter Oh, who is "looking desperately for any way to get this sexy side into Europe". Here is said fair play table. But Arsenal will already be in Europe, so Liverpool are effectively top.
88 min: Liverpool don't seem that fussed about scoring a seventh, and are merrily passing the ball about the big empty spaces in midfield.
86 min: As soon as he scored his second goal Sturridge became a liability, greedily searching a third for himself rather than working for the team. It didn't hinder his team unduly, but it was a good substitution. Lots of emails rolling in from mournful Geordies. "Oh God. This is like watching a close relative slowly die in agony," writes Dan.
85 min: Shelvey and Suso have come on for Sturridge and Coutinho.
84 min: Newcastle attacked then. For a while it looked like they might create something. Then they gave the ball away, Liverpool ran up the other end and either Borini or Sturridge could have scored, but the first passed to the second, and the second faffed about.
82 min: Coutinho hits the bar! It's a 20-yard shot that's heading for the roof of the net until Elliot gets his fingertips to it. He deserves a goal, the lad. Possibly two.
78 min: Obviously this has been a hideous nightmare for Newcastle and all who follow them, but Coutinho has been magnificent in the opposition half. Really superb. I'm not convinced by any of the signings Rodgers made last summer, but there were a couple of good 'uns in January.
Henderson takes the free-kick, on the left corner of the area. It's certainly supposed to be a cross, but nobody gets a touch – Agger comes very close – and it curls in at the far post.
75 min: This is getting comically bad for Newcastle. Debuchy flings himself at Coutinho with both feet off the ground and receives a second yellow card for his troubles. "Where did it all go wrong?" asks Neil Ainsworth. "Why is this Newcastle team completely unrecognizable from last year?" Sorry, Liverpool are scoring too many goals for me to answer.
What a substitution! Downing collects the ball from Coutinho, turns Haidara, runs to the byline and pulls back to Borini, who controls with his first touch and scores with his second.
72 min: Borini is replacing Gerrard. Are these the first Premier League minutes he has failed to play this season?
71 min: Borini is about to come on. Rodgers claimed he was a "natural finisher" when he arrived in the summer. I've not seen any sign of that in his brief spells between injuries, but maybe he just needs a goal to get him started?
69 min: Downing escapes on the right, and Taylor flings himself in front of Sturridge to clear for a corner. Liverpool could get half a dozen here.
67 min: Yanga-Mbiwa gets the ball on the half-way line and hits the ball about 40 yards into the air. It eventually falls back to earth on the edge of Liverpool's penalty area and is headed away. That's a hopeless, clueless up 'n' under. Henderson gets the ball and releases Sturridge, who ignores a simple pass to the unmarked Coutinho in favour of seeking a hat-trick, and fluffs it.
65 min: That fourth goal had fans streaming for the exits. This has got to hurt, if you're Newcastley inclined. They're taking off Tioté and bringing on Anita.
62 min: I think this is a much better, much sexier Liverpool than the one that started the season, obsessed about possession, often for its own sake. There's real incision here, variety of passes long and short, good movement, running from midfield. Clearly the opposition are embarrassing themselves, so best not be too hasty, but still, it's impressive and enjoyable stuff.
Gerrard plays an excellent ball over a very high backline to the onrushing Henderson, who slides the ball across to Sturridge, who takes a couple of touches before scoring. Good run by Henderson, good ball by Gerrard, but really, Newcastle, what have you got to say for yourself?
59 min: According to ESPN, in the second half Newcastle have had 75% of the possession.
56 min: Ben Arfa's shot from 25 yards, with his left foot, is astonishingly venomous and as Lucas, 10 yards away, turns his back to the ball it crashes into his arms. 50,000 people claim a penalty, the referee is unmoved.
Ben Arfa gives the ball away to Sturridge on the half-way line, and the Brazilian sprints towards Newcastle's penalty area, draws a couple of defenders and then dinks the ball perfectly inside to Sturridge, who thumps the ball with his left foot into the roof of the net.
52 min: Debuchy crosses from the right, it's half-cleared to Cabaye, on the edge of the penalty area in all sorts of space, but it came to him quickly, his first touch is too heavy and Johnson clears.
51 min: Shot of the day! The ball falls to Coutinho, who eyes up the volley, swings his right foot, totally misses the ball and accidentally sidefoots it with his left to the nearest defender.
50 min: Ben Arfa runs at the Liverpool defence, loses the ball, wins it back again, and suddenly the home fans are in full voice. Nothing comes of the move, mind.
49 min: An effort on goal! Newcastle cross from the left. I must admit I didn't see who headed it, but I did see Reina catching it.
48 min: At the other end Sturridge tries to run clear of Haidara, has his shorts tugged and throws himself to the ground. It was a foul, but nothing's given. Perhaps the over-reaction neutralised the foul that led to it.
48 min: Newcastle have started well, though the ball has only been in Liverpool's penalty area once, and Reina easily claimed Ben Arfa's cross.
46 min: Tioté cuts in from the left and, as soon as he's six inches inside the penalty area, goes down over someone's leg. The referee is unimpressed.
46 min: Newcastle get the second half under way. No changes for Liverpool, even though Glen Johnson was really terribly close to getting sent off in the first half.
Substitutions: Newcastle bring on Hatem, son of Arfa for Perch, and Gouffran for Gutierrez.
If there's one thing less encouraging for Newcastle than the first half itself, it's this stat:
And that's the end of the half. It's been consistently entertaining. Good play, violence, bookings, should've-been-reds, a lovely goal. Excellent.
45+2 min: Pet hate about football: when player a pushes the ball past player b and then runs straight into player b, who couldn't be anywhere else except by magically disapparating. Glen Johnson has just given away a free-kick for illegally continuing to exist when Gutierrez ran into him, but Newcastle make nothing of it.
Glen Johnson tries to dribble the ball through Newcastle's midfield but loses it. And then Johnson grabs Tioté's leg, and Tioté pushes him in the chest, and the referee … gives them a talking to.
43 min: Liverpool seeing out the half in far from imperious style. Lucas does his best to give the ball away at the edge of his own area, but just about gets away with it. Nothing's going Newcastle's way, in short. Even the sun, which appears to have been shining up there today, is going down.
41 min: Glen Johnson is booked for clipping Tioté's calf. There didn't seem any intent in it. "Last time I watched Barce-feckin-lona, they lost 4-0," writes Sam James. "As a Liverpool fan, I find this encouraging." Yes, possibly a bad example.
39 min: Though it all ends with Gutierrez getting booked for a comedy tackle on Sturridge, grabbing the forward's calf with both feet while grounded as the Liverpool man threatened to run away.
38 min: Since I suggested that Newcastle are pants, they have transformed into Barca-feckin-lona. They've had about 75% of the possession over the last five minutes, created a glorious chance and are otherwise behaving like a proper team of real footballers.
36 min: Incredible miss from Newcastle! Their best move of the match by a very long way ends with Haidara's cross from the left finding Perch, unmarked, six yards out. He heads wide. Even Jamie Carragher had his head in his hands after that.
33 min: So are Liverpool playing well because the absence of Suárez has given them the freedom to vary their attack, rather than feeling forced to rely on their top-scoring superhero, or just because Newcastle are pants?
30 min: Sturridge wins another corner. Gerrard's cross is headed clear but the area is ringed with red shirts and Liverpool get it straight back. The ball is worked back to Gerrard, whose cross is wonderful, but the downside of the area being ringed with red shirts is that there isn't one to compete for headers in the six-yard box.
29 min: Liverpool continue to look 18 times better than Newcastle. Coutinho's latest flick sets up Gerrard for a shot from 20-odd yards, but it's with his left foot and flies a few yards wide.
27 min: Newcastle have a shot! An actual, real shot! And Jonas Gutierrez sends the ball flying at least 15 yards over the goal.
24 min: Sturridge picks up the ball two yards into Newcastle's half, runs towards the penalty area, executes an unnecessary lollipop and then shoots too close to Elliot, who catches.
21 min: Tioté has only given away one free kick, but he looks pretty desperate to be back in the dressing-room as soon as possible. But the latest incident, which saw a swinging arm prompt Coutinho to stop playing and hold his neck, was just overreaction on the part of the Liverpool player. There was no malice, and barely any contact.
20 min: Henderson's pass finds Sturridge running clear, but he is correctly given offside – marginal, but right. Debuchy, trying to get the ball back, pushes Sturridge, who squares up to the Frenchman, forehead to forehead. Both are booked.
19 min: Coutinho has been wonderful so far. Every touch a winner.
Total football from Liverpool! Coutinho, a hoof downfield from Reina is laid off by Sturridge – a delightful cushioned sidefoot volley – to Coutinho, whose pass is delightful and finds Sturridge bursting through the defence, and with Elliot haring out of goal instead of shooting he plays the ball off to Henderson, arriving at pace to shoot into the empty net. That was good.
15 min: Newcastle are improving, and at times in the last few minutes have passed the ball successfully, and even threatened to mount an attack. On a couple of occasions all that stopped them actually mounting an attack was a questionable refereeing decision.
12 min: Another pass chipped over the home defence finds Sturridge just offside. Anyone who thinks Newcastle are too good to go down should watch the first 12 minutes of this.
11 min: Newcastle attack half-heartedly, lose the ball and a simple long pass sets Sturridge clear, onside and absolutely alone. Elliot rushes out of his goal to clear.
9 min: Agger makes a run forward in open play, and Coutinho spots him and finds him with a delightful chipped pass into the penalty area. Agger's chest control, though, isn't good enough and the chance is lost.
7 min: That's as bad a start to a game as a home side could make. Unbelievable stuff. And as I write that Coutinho tries, and only just – just – fails, to play Gerrard clean through.
An idiotic goal to concede. Newcastle see the end of a spell of Liverpool pressure and the defence moves up en masse to celebrate. They do so just too late to catch Agger offside, and instead he has the penalty area all to himself as he heads a lazy, loopy cross past a ludicrously isolated goalkeeper.
3 min: Johnson, this time set up by Gerrard's backheel, crosses towards Agger at the far post, but again Newcastle clear just in time. From Downing's corner the ball is half-cleared and Gerrard's shot is blocked.
2 min: And they do get better! Johnson is released down the right, Johnson slides in a low cross and just before Sturridge could tap in Yanga-Mbiwa arrives from nowhere to clear for a corner.
2 min: I'm not sure that ESPN have the rights to show any of those classic late-90s 4-3s. I can't think of any other reason for them not showing them. They've certainly talked about them. Anyway, Liverpool did the kicking off and have so far been ludicrously imprecise with their passing. Can only get better.
1 min: Andre Marriner, the referee, gets the game under way with a shrill blast of his whistle. He and his assistants today, Simon Long and Steven Child, will also be together at the FA Cup final.
An email! "How come Suárez isn't playing?" asks Dom Aldcroft. Nice one.
The teams are out. This is happening.
The game hasn't even started yet, and Sturridge has already received treatment for what looked like a sore ankle. He completed the warm-up, apparently, but that ain't a good sign.
"We're desperate for the points!" roars Alan Pardew. "It's a big occasion today. Tactically and technically I think it's an even game. We need the breaks."
And here is another hideous song from the February 1974 charts, which roared into the top 15 when these clubs last played out a goalless draw. I can't guarantee that it's the worst of the lot, but if I try to listen to any more my ears will probably cut themselves off and run away.
Newcastle: Elliot, Debuchy, Steven Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Haidara, Sissoko, Tiote, Cabaye, Perch, Gutierrez, Cissé. Subs: Harper, Williamson, Anita, Ben Arfa, Gouffran, Gosling, Ameobi.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, José Enrique, Henderson, Gerrard, Lucas, Coutinho, Sturridge, Downing. Subs: Jones, Coates, Borini, Suso, Shelvey, Skrtel, Wisdom.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Incidentally, Brentford v Doncaster, eh? That's one to join the last-day legends, Jimmy Glass and that dog at Torquay and the rest of 'em. Unbelievable. Literally unbelievable. Even more unbelievable than the idea of this making the charts, as it did back in February 1974 (it was No30 when Newcastle and Liverpool last drew 0-0). And I'll tell you something else … the worst is yet to come.
Another (black) beauty from the February 1974 hit parade. Was there ever a worse time to have ears? And I'll tell you something else … the worst is yet to come.
One change for each side, I'm hearing. Sturridge replaces Suárez for Liverpool, Tioté replaces Gouffran for Newcastle.
There are two big questions as we look ahead to this thundercracker:
1) How long will it take ESPN to show that Stan Collymore winner, and Kevin Keegan, dressed for a job interview at Butlin's, slumped over an advertising hoarding?
2) How long will it take someone on ESPN to suggest that Liverpool will lack teeth (or other hilarious biting pun) without the suspended Luis Suárez?
As we await the answer to those, the good news for Newcastle is that they have won their last two matches against Liverpool here (including last season's, when José Enrique ended up in goal after Reina's red card – see my Joy of Six from yesterday for more, and better, similar stories). The good news for Liverpool is that they've won six of their last nine matches against Newcastle anywhere. The good news for neutrals is that there have been two or more goals in 16 of the 17 games between the sides in the last decade. In all there have been 53 goals in those 17 games.
The last time these sides played out a goalless draw Terry McDermott and Malcolm MacDonald were playing for Newcastle, Kevin Keegan and Emlyn Hughes were playing for Liverpool and I didn't even exist. It was February 1974. Later that day, this took over from Mud's Tiger Feet as the UK's No1 hit single. The Wombling Song by the Wombles was No4. In many ways it was a good time to not exist.
Simon will be here from 5pm.
In the meantime, here's the Guardian's squad sheet …
As Brendan Rodgers tries to fathom out how to cope without the suspended Luis Suárez, Alan Pardew endeavours to avert a crisis at Newcastle United. While a win would leave his side all but safe from relegation, anything less could see the Tyneside crowd turn on a manager who has not been forgiven for losing 3-0 at home to Sunderland a fortnight ago. "We're all a bit nervous," Pardew said. "This club needs a win, and after what happened against Sunderland we're going to have to produce a performance worthy of the black-and-white shirt".