Liverpool 4 – 0 Newcastle: Player Ratings and Talking Points

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Liverpool fans are in a collective state of euphoria and disbelief right now. Not only are the Reds still unbeaten and playing excellent football, but Manchester City, our closest rivals, have lost 3 out of their last 4 League games meaning Liverpool are now 7 points clear of them.

While that’s great, it’s important to remain focused on ourselves. Klopp’s men certainly were against Newcastle and deservedly waltzed to victory with a 4-0 win at Anfield.

Lovren opened the scoring before Salah doubled the lead from the penalty spot. Shaqiri scored in front of the Kop to put the result to bed, but there was still time for Fabinho to get his first goal in red. It was an excellent day all round for the fans and players alike.

Liverpool FC v Newcastle United - Premier League : News Photo

Player Ratings

Alisson – 7.5

Harking back to the start of his Liverpool career, Alisson had practically nothing to do on a cold Boxing Day between the sticks aside from a few routine saves.

The Brazilian was finally called into action with ones of the last kicks of the game, but he did brilliantly well to keep yet another clean sheet to help Liverpool pull themselves level with City’s impressive goal difference.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8

It was great to see Trent back so soon after his injury a couple of weeks ago. I feared he’d be out for months at the time, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, the relief of his return was dampened by the news that Milner had a hamstring problem.

Trent went mostly untested in defence despite Newcastle’s best efforts, but his contribution to the attack was excellent and he was rewarded with an assist for Shaqiri from a low ball into the box.

Dejan Lovren – 8.5 (Man of the Match)

What a strike! We’ll likely go a long time before we see a defender hit a ball as sweetly as Lovren did when he belted it into the top corner after a failed clearance.

Aside from his astonishing goal, Lovren bossed it in defence and never looked like making a mistake. He also gave Mane a glorious chance to score late into the match. Hopefully Lovren can keep this up until Gomez’s return and beyond.

Virgil van Dijk – 7.5

VVD had next to nothing to do all game. He won everything in the air, moved the ball around well, and almost scored on a number of occasions.

There’s little else to talk about here in terms of analysis. He’ll be hoping every other game is as easy as this one, but like Alisson, he never appears to become complacent even late into games.

Andy Robertson – 7.5

Robbo had an incredibly similar game to TAA. Neither were forced to break a sweat in defence and both provided excellent width and attacking thrust.

While Robbo didn’t get a direct assist like Trent did, it was his cross to the back post that Newcastle failed to clear before the ball sailed towards Lovren.

2018 EPL Premier League Football Liverpool v Newcastle Utd Dec 26th : News Photo

Jordan Henderson – 7

Similar to his performance against Wolves, Hendo was far more aggressive with the ball than he has been at times earlier in the season and for the most part, it paid off, as he was directly involved in the build-up to the third goal.

My only criticism of him was that, again similar to the Wolves game, I just wanted to see more. He seems well suited to the role and system that he’s being used in at the moment, but perhaps he still needs a bit more confidence to really take games by the scruff of the neck.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6.5

Gini was probably the worst Red on the day, but even then, he wasn’t too bad. His industry was never in question, but his passing left a lot to be desired.

He gave the ball away far too many times against poor opposition and on another day, he could’ve been punished for it by better, more confident players.

Bobby Firmino – 6.5

Bobby’s current form resembles that of Salah’s a couple of months ago before he starting clicking into gear — a frustrating case of one step forward, two steps back. Aside from one good ball through to Mane, Firmino’s end product was mostly disappointing, although he was still confident enough to keep trying.

Hopefully he’ll do what Salah has done and made his good days far more regular. Many questioned whether Salah should be a striker after such a good season on the wing, but now look at him. The same result could come from questions over Firmino’s suitability as a 10.

Liverpool FC v Newcastle United - Premier League : News Photo

Sadio Mane – 7

Poor Mane. He did just about everything right except score. Every time he was put through or had the chance to set someone up, his touch was either inches off, or the ball was just slightly out of his reach.

His movement and involvement demonstrated that he’s desperately close to returning to Man of the Match performances, but he could use a goal or two to give him the confidence to do so (much like Firmino in that sense).

Xherdan Shaqiri – 7.5

Shaq had a similar night to Mane. He was up and down and regularly on the periphery of creating something special, although, he improved as the match went on.

He created quite a few chances and showed enough swagger to attempt a backheel flick-on, which didn’t work sadly, but you want your attacking players to have that level of confidence and freedom to express themselves. He scored the easiest goal of his career when he nipped into the back post and passed the ball into the back of the net.

Mo Salah – 8

We need to address the elephant in the room first. Salah went down very easily for the penalty, and if the situation were reversed, we’d all be incensed. Sure, there was contact, but the penalty was a weak one. Having said that, it had no bearing on the result whatsoever, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s fairly inconsequential.

Mo was relatively quiet at the start of the game, but it didn’t take long for him to start terrorising Newcastle’s defence. He won his penalty and then scored it with a precise shot into the bottom corner, and then he assisted the final goal with a great delivery from a corner.

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-NEWCASTLE : News Photo

Subs

Fabinho – (on for Wijnaldum – 62′) 8

It’s always great to see someone grab their first goal for the club and Fab certainly deserved one after his great run of games recently.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Firmino – 69′) 6.5

Studge tried hard and linked up well with his teammates, but he couldn’t make a significant impact on the game.

Nathaniel Clyne – (on for Robertson – 82′) N/A

Clyne appears to have taken Moreno’s place on the bench, which is good because he’s more reliable in defence than the Spaniard.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Naby Keita, Adam Lallana, and Divock Origi.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 9

Many people would’ve been expecting Klopp to have fielded a far weaker, rotated side considering the upcoming game against Arsenal in a few days, and then City after that. However, imagine the fans’ reaction if Klopp fielded a second-string lineup against Newcastle and drew on a day when City lost to Leicester!

Moreover, given that the game was a doddle for the most part, it’s hard to imagine that many Reds would’ve left the pitch feeling exhausted after that one. It also gave a chance for players such as Trent to return from injury in an ideal setting, as well as give an opportunity for players like Mane and Firmino to rebuild a bit of confidence before Arsenal and City. Klopp gave them the chance to do so, but unfortunately, they didn’t really take it.

The only thing that displeased me was that Klopp didn’t afford Keita the same opportunity, not even from the bench. This seemed like the perfect time to get Keita out there, whether for the full 90 or just the final 30, and give him the freedom to do and go wherever he pleased to try and recapture his form from the first game of the season.

Liverpool FC v Newcastle United - Premier League : News Photo

Talking Points

Citizens Under Pressure

Most Liverpool fans are being realistic about the current situation and know there’s still a long way to go, but there are a few misguided optimists who seem to think the League is decided in December. It’s not, of course.

Think of it this way, who predicted City would lose 3 of their last 4 Premier League games? No one. That’s how quickly things can change in football. Although that run does show one other thing. It shows arguably City’s on weakness within their squad, yet I don’t see anyone drawing too much attention to it — the loss of Fernandinho.

It’s not just his absence that’s hurt them, but the fact that he’s the one player in the squad that they don’t have at least one, if not two or three, excellent replacements for. Pep will realise this and make it his highest priority in the Summer, if not in the January transfer window. Luckily for us though, it’s highly unlikely a deal could be done in time for our game against them.

Surprise Spurs

City’s slump has yielded the surprising result of Spurs coming out of nowhere to pop up in second place, six points behind the Reds. Due to this, many people are now suggesting that we’re now looking at a three horse race.

It’d be foolish to dismiss Spurs only halfway into the season, after all, they’re playing good football, but I personally still see City as by far our biggest competition. City speak for themselves, but the reasons that I’m not too concerned about Spurs are the situation with their stadium, and the fact that they have an extremely fragile squad.

When (or perhaps if they move this season), it’ll probably coincide with a downturn in form, as is historically typical for clubs who move grounds. Liverpool’s squad has faced and bested the test of injuries and suspensions and never took a backwards step, but the same can’t really be said of Spurs. What would happen if Kane missed a run of games? What will happen when Son goes off to play for South Korea?

Arsenal at Anfield

As I alluded to earlier though, we’re wasting our time by worrying and wondering about our rivals. Now that we have a lead, all that matters is what we do. We’ve bought ourselves some breathing space now, it’s time to take advantage of that fact.

Next up is our clash against Arsenal. The Gunners were excellent when we met them earlier in the season, but since then they’ve suffered a bad dip in form and, crucially, have had to endure a period where they have few fit defenders.

Arsenal’s misfortune has to be capitalised on, and it would be a real shame to give City and Spurs a lifeline in a game that, on paper, we really should be winning. If we can get three points at Anfield, then City will be under tremendous pressure to reduce the 7 point gap once we travel to the Etihad.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 27/12/2018

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Liverpool vs Newcastle – Premier League Preview

Opportunity Awaits

Liverpool take on Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle at Anfield in a game that will surely be an unusual one for the ex Liverpool manager.

He’s obviously a professional and would never deliberately throw a game just to do Liverpool fans a favour, but part of him must be excited about how Liverpool are going this season, and therefore trying to bring it to a halt must feel bizarre.

Nevertheless, Newcastle are a strong side and will certainly be up for the match. The Reds will need to keep their heads down and get through another test.

Liverpool Predicted Lineup and Team News

lineup

TAA has returned to full training and could play against the Magpies. However, if Klopp is keen to keep him fresh for the big games against Arsenal and Manchester City, he could turn to one of either Clyne or Milner, although the latter reportedly has a tight hamstring.

Meanwhile, Keita has also returned to training following the superficial abdominal injury he sustained against Wolves. Klopp, as usual, has plenty of options in central midfield, which is perhaps the hardest area of the team to predict against Newcastle. Hendo, Gini, Fab, Lallana, and possibly Milner are all options.

Salah seems undroppable at the moment as he continues to outshine his attacking colleagues. Either one or both of Firmino or Mane could get a rest though with Shaq, Studge, or Origi perhaps the most likely to come in.

Newcastle Predicted Lineup and Team News

lineup (1)

Ki Sung-Yueng has departed for the Asian Cup and Jonjo Shelvey is still a major doubt for the trip to Liverpool on Boxing Day, so Isaac Hayden may be handed a rare start in central midfield.

Along with Shelvey, Ciaran Clark, Karl Darlow, and Florian Lejeune are also in doubt. Kenedy could be handed a recall after being used only as a substitute against Fulham, while Ayoze Perez and Christian Atsu could potentially drop to the bench with a tactical alteration.

Jacob Murphy is another option out wide, while Joselu could be handed a run-out up front if the Newcastle manager wishes to preserve Salomon Rondon’s legs for more ‘winnable’ matches over the festive period.

Pre-Game Analysis

Benitez has used a 5-4-1 in matches against the ‘big six clubs’ this season, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him use this formation again, with Federico Fernandez perhaps returning to central defence and Paul Dummett moving over to left-back.

Liverpool will be taking the same approach into this game as they have with every other. They’ll be calm but decisive on the ball, as well as alert and disciplined without it.

Rafa’s boys will have their work cut out for them, but they do have the pace and power in key areas to trouble any team when everything clicks.

Prediction

Newcastle will sit back as deep as they can without the ball and look to soak up as much pressure as possible before lumping the ball forward quickly in search of fouls and set-pieces.

Liverpool on the other hand will take their time looking for the key that will ultimately unlock the visitors’ defence.

Once the first goal goes in though, Liverpool will take full control and easily walk away as 3-0 winners.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 26/12/2018

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Liverpool 2 – 0 Newcastle

The Goals Keep Coming for Liverpool

Another professional performance. A genuinely satisfying feeling, and one that is becoming more normal for The Reds.

Loris Karius made a crucial save to deny Mohamed Diame for Newcastle’s only real chance of the game. The defence and midfield hardly gave their opposition anything to work with.

Newcastle’s defence was predictably strong, but not enough to deny Liverpool as strikes from Mo Salah and Sadio Mane were enough for The Reds to walk away as deserved victors.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 7:

Showed excellent concentration to save a dangerous strike from Diame after having nothing to do for 40 minutes.

If he wasn’t so aware, the scores would’ve been level at 1-1, and the game may have taken a different direction.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7:

TAA’s progression continued last night as he again showed his qualities in defence and attack.

His ability to find space and deliver dangerous crosses regularly justifies his place ahead of Joe Gomez.

Dejan Lovren – 7:

Lorven wasn’t as dominant as his partner, but he was undoubtedly more composed that Joel Matip has been.

He could’ve done better with the chances he got from set-pieces, but aside from that, it was a pleasing return for the Croatian.

Virgil Van Dijk – 8: 

VVD hardly put a foot wrong all night.

His organisation and leadership skills were on full display, further justifying Jurgen Klopp’s decision to sign him.

Andrew Robertson – 7: 

Robbo didn’t produce the same level of performance the fans have grown accustomed to, but he was still reliable throughout.

He limited the danger that pacy DeAndre Yedlin posed considerably and with ease.

Jordan Henderson – 7: 

A good performance from the skipper, if an unspectacular one.

He’s sometimes subject to unreasonable criticism for a lack of penetration, but he moved the ball well and did everything that was asked of him.

Emre Can – 7: 

It was a gamble selecting Can to start as another yellow would’ve meant he would miss the game against Manchester United through suspension.

Fortunately, Can remained disciplined and again showed his strengths in passing and driving the ball forward.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 8: 

The Ox put in another influential display; his days of being all show and no end-product at Arsenal seem far away.

He set up Salah’s goal expertly and was lively from the first minute until he was replaced.

Mo Salah – 8 (Man of the Match): 

Even though Newcastle’s defenders made a point of marking him tightly and offering very little space to work with, he still got the better of them.

His reluctance to shoot cost him an early chance, but he made up for it with a cool finish for the opener.

Sadio Mane – 7:

Despite a couple of hiccups along the way where his touch let him down, Mane again showed his resilience and was rewarded with the winning goal.

It has to be said that he is no less valuable than Salah or Firmino despite scoring fewer goals.

Roberto Firmino – 7: 

He struggled early on with the limited space that Newcastle afforded him, but he grew into the game and reemerged as the spearhead of every attack.

An absolute pleasure to watch.

Subs

Adam Lallana – 6 (on for Mane – 74′): 

Looked to be up with the pace and will hopefully start against Porto.

James Milner – 6 (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain – 79′): 

Helped his teammates see out the game professionally.

Joel Matip – N/A (on for Firmino – 88′): 

No time to make a difference.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Joe Gomez, Dominic Solanke

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 8: Klopp has managed to find a better balance against sides that sit back and try to lure Liverpool into overcommitting.

Recent results have begun to change the minds of doubters who criticised the German for a percevied lack of organisation and defensive discipline.

Time will tell if this trend continues, but on current form and the promise of further additions in the Summer, it’s hard to doubt the man.

Talking Points

No Longer A One Man Army

Recently, Klopp stated that he believes that not only have other players stepped up to fill Phil Coutinho’s void, but the team is far less predictable now.

In the past when the going got tough, players would blindly give him the ball, hoping he’d conjure up a moment of magic.

The stats prove Klopp’s theory to be correct, and in fact, Liverpool’s record without the Brazilian this season has been better, perhaps due to the reasons listed above.

Liverpool have played 20 games with and 21 without Coutinho this season.

With: W8 D10 L2 1.70 points per game.

Without: W16 D2 L3 2.38 points per game.

Return of Rafa

It’s always nice to be reunited with our fat Spanish waiter.

Rafa Benitez is a man who rightfully will be remembered for his contributions to this great club both on and off the pitch.

Whether it’s the glory of Istanbul or his steadfast support to the Hillsborough families, no one will forget what he has done for the Club and City of Liverpool.

This was the first time that Klopp managed to get a win over him, and despite Newcastle facing relegation, a part of Rafa must be secretly pleased with how well Liverpool are doing.

Porto Rotation

Even though the focus will now shift to the midweek game against Porto, one eye must be kept on Manchester United.

Klopp faces a tricky conundrum; should he give key players a well-earned rest, or keep them together to maintain the current momentum.

The tie is more or less over, and Klopp would be well within his rights to field an entirely changed XI.

However, doing so could inadvertently stunt Liverpool’s flow and reduce our chances of putting United to the sword.

It is vital that Klopp finds the right balance in this sense.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 04/03/2018

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Liverpool vs Newcastle : Preview

Reds Seek to Maintain Recent Momentum

Liverpool head into this weekend’s fixture in red-hot form and will be hoping that their recent goal rush continues.

Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle are also in decent form however, and are unbeaten in their previous four games. They’ve only lost twice in their last 10 with those defeats coming against Manchester City and Chelsea.

The Reds are chasing a top-four finish, but The Magpies have the burning motivation of a relegation battle and have proven to be a tough team to beat, despite finding wins hard to come by.

Liverpool

Team News and Predicted Lineup

livvsnew

Jurgen Klopp all but confirmed earlier in the week that he intends on fielding his strongest XI from now until the end of the season, so there should be little in the way of rotation.

On top of that, Danny Ings and Gini Wijnaldum are ill, and Nathaniel Clyne is highly unlikely to return despite playing 90 mins for the u23s earlier in the week.

Jordan Henderson could return after a niggling injury saw him miss the last couple of games, but if not, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will retain his place and Emre Can will shift back to the holding role.

Newcastle

Team News and Predicted Lineup

new

Newcastle will miss Islam Slimani through a thigh injury, and Aleksander Mitrovic will probably not return in time for the trip to Anfield.

Dwight Gayle and Jonjo Shelvey are also slight doubts with a hamstring strain and a knee problem respectively, but they should be fit to start by kick-off.

The remaining players more or less pick themselves, partly due to form, and partly because Newcastle’s squad depth is far from their greatest strength.

Analysis

Liverpool face a similar, but arguably more difficult task as they did last week due to Benitez’s defence being far more compact and organised than David Moyes’.

The first half against West Ham was tightly contested, but in the second The Reds were able to blitz their opponents and completely blow them out of the water as they have done to so many teams at Anfield this season.

The simple analysis is that Liverpool have to keep doing what they’ve been doing; defending intelligently and attacking ruthlessly.

Newcastle’s approach will also be a predictable and simple one. They will attempt to achieve a repeat of the performance and result against Manchester United by being dogged in defence and efficient in attack.

Salah will be bear the brunt of the responsibility in attack as neither Florian Lejeune nor Paul Dummett are capable of keeping up with his pace.

Ultimately though, the entire team will have to be on their game to break down a stubborn defence and force them into making the same mistakes that West Ham did.

The weather could also play a factor depending on how heavily the snow continues to fall in Liverpool. If it continues the way it has been then it could severely stunt Liverpool’s attacking outlets by slowing down the flow of play.

Prediction

This is going to be another important test for Liverpool, as they mustn’t give the teams around them hope by dropping points.

Newcastle will be difficult to break down in the snow, but if Liverpool are ahead by the second half, then The Reds should be able to overrun The Geordies.

Liverpool will head into the midweek return game against Porto having defeated Newcastle 2-0.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 04/03/2018.

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