Liverpool have become big draw specialists, this being their fifth in 10 Premier League games, and their biggest draw is Luis Suarez. Without their accomplished, industrious No 7, Liverpool would have lost here and they remain utterly, almost painfully reliant on the Uruguayan striker. There was more than a hint of winter's icy, incipient arrival in the air here Sunday, a reminder of the long haul of the darkest months that Suarez and company now embark on.
Moscow and Stamford Bridge await Liverpool over the next six days and it would be so counterproductive to take Suarez to Russia. They need him fit and fresh against Chelsea. The fear stalking Kopite thoughts is that they are within a strained Suarez sinew of lacking real cutting edge. Of their 13 league goals, Suarez has seven. Rahem Sterling is a bundle of pacy teenage promise but still raw and more a move-accelerator than finisher. Steven Gerrard, making his 600th club appearance, is not at the top of his game.
Fabio Borini, currently injured, is not a noted goalscorer. The need for reinforcement in the January transfer window grows with every game. Suarez needs support and the occasional breather. For all the negative side to his game, the occasional play-acting and that notorious abuse of Patrice Evra, Suarez remains a striker of the very highest order. Yesterday showed this. He was a constant, mobile menace to Newcastle's defence, equalising Yohan Cabaye's wonderful first-half strike. Suarez's goal was an absolute gem.
Everton fans will have noted wryly that it came via a long ball, accurately driven forward 60 yards by Jose Enrique. Three touches from Suarez elegantly and emphatically did the rest. The first came when Suarez controlled the dropping ball on the crest on his chest. The second with his right foot steered the ball past the onrushing Tim Krul before his third flicked the ball home as the Kop dissolved into a mosh-pit of merriment. This was Suarez at his best, a celebration of refined technique, balance and composure.
It is a time of the year for burning fuses and smoke was emanating from Fabricio Coloccini in the second half. This was Uruguay versus Argentina, rarely a love match. Suarez kept twisting Coloccini this way and that, sending the defender's mercury rising. Coloccini is a very good defender but he was struggling to live with Suarez. With seven minutes remaining, Coloccini dived in on Suarez and was deservedly dismissed.
Some will feel that Coloccini was harshly dealt with, that no damage was inflicted as little contact was made. Nonsense. Coloccini's challenge was high and so late that the cameraman did well to catch it as the ball had disappeared infield. Newcastle's manager, Alan Pardew, talked supportively of his captain, saying that he was not the type to target opponents wilfully. Yet Coloccini could have broken Suarez's leg. In the Sky studio, Chris Coleman called it a "coward's challenge", the ultimate indictment from an ex-pro.
Suarez had been prominent from the start, within minutes juggling the ball past Coloccini, appealing vainfully for a penalty when slight contact was made by the defender. The referee, Anthony Taylor, waved play on, ignoring Suarez's protestations. That is a problem that Suarez has made for himself; because he has gone down easily before, referees can be sceptical. The game meandered along, drifting like a loose buoy in the Mersey until Cabaye gave it such vivid focus. Suarez bent a free-kick into the side-netting. Hatem Ben Arfa shot wide. Krul saved a Suarez shot with his right foot. Suarez, rising powerfully above Steven Taylor, headed over.
These were moments of bite-sized promise but little sustained sustenance. So it was out of keeping with a modest match when Cabaye took centre stage, finally stoking the flames of a contest with a firecracker of a strike. The goal was made by Ben Arfa, who dribbled into the Liverpool box, his close control keeping the ball away first from Sterling and then Enrique. It was a classic Ben Arfa feint that made the space, shaping to take the ball inside, throwing Enrique off the scent and then speeding to the goal-line. His cross cleared the Liverpool sentries in the centre, arriving beyond the far post at the calm figure of Cabaye. He controlled the ball with his right foot before volleying it firmly past Brad Jones. The goal was so good it was one for a thousand Geordie scrapbooks. And a few history books as Cabaye became the first Newcastle player to score at Anfield since Patrick Kluivert in 2004.
As if to dampen Liverpool spirits further, a malfunctioning sprinkler soaked fans at half-time. Yet the home support still had Suarez to lift them. He was soon denied by Krul. Newcastle's defending was good, even the creative types helping out. When Gerrard whipped a ball over, Ben Arfa was back to head clear as Enrique lurked. There is a strong resilience and organisation to Newcastle under Pardew. But where there is Suarez there is hope. Having equalised in such majestic fashion, Liverpool's No?7 shimmied through again, this time utterly eluding Coloccini before stroking the ball to Jonjo Shelvey, whose laboured prodded effort failed to trouble Krul. Taylor was screaming at his defenders to get closer to Suarez. Suarez turned brilliantly away from Coloccini near the centre circle, running on before slipping the ball right to Sterling, whose shot was intercepted by the sliding Taylor.
Another little cameo highlighted Suarez's class. Hounded by Jonas Gutierrez in the middle, Suarez showed his touch and persistence to work the ball left to Enrique and then narrowly failed to get on the end of the full-back's return. Coloccini then walked but Newcastle held on for their first point in eight years here. It would have been more but for Suarez.