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Football News: Liverpool v Newcastle United - A Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Newcastle United - A Liverpool Perspective
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Liverpool v Newcastle United A Liverpool Perspective


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Not the best watch, but a comfortable win over a passive Newcastle side, as expected. With the loss of two key players on the eve of the game due to them testing positive for covid, it is little wonder the performance was not as fluid as it could have been. Van Dijk's diagonal balls are important to opening up the play, which is particularly important against a team utilising such negative tactics. But I feel that Fabinho is even more crucial to Liverpool's play and his loss was the one that was more keenly felt. Not only does he break up play better than almost anyone around and has an excellent range of passing and vision, but he also is always making himself available to receive the ball. That extra option was missing as Henderson tends to drift out to the right and that leaves a space in the centre that no one was in.

It particularly showed in Thiago's play, in my opinion, as he looks to move the ball quickly to where players should be and there was no one filling the slot Fabinho occupies regularly. That left him either misplacing passes that were played to where the Brazilian should have been or having to take an extra touch to look for an option. Neither are good, the first led to the Toon opening the scoring and the latter meant they had time to set up their defensive block before he could play the pass.

Of course there are always controversies that need to be discussed in a game of football and this match had one in particular surrounding Liverpool's opener. There was a coming together of a couple of Newcastle players, no clash of heads, nothing like that, but two of them went down in their box. One, Schaar, looked up and saw play was going on and jumped up and got involved. The other, Hayden, also looked up and saw play was going on, so he lay back down quick pretending to be hurt. Oddly he had been clutching at his neck until he realised the game was continuing but Eddie Howe later claimed Hayden had a head injury and was dazed, despite there seeming to be no contact with his head by anyone. In fact the contact seemed to be simply with his teammate and his back. But that just begs the question as to why the Newcastle medical staff and Howe himself let the lad play for the rest of the game. What happened to concussion protocols? If Howe is (unlikely I know) telling the truth about the lad being dazed for a while after the match, then he should be facing serious trouble over failing his duty of care for a player with possible concussion. If Howe, as is much more likely, is full of brown smelly stuff, then he should be getting censored for bringing the game into disrepute.

I am hoping that this is a sign that officials have now got wise to the constant playacting of opponents against Liverpool, feigning injury repeatedly to break up play and stop Liverpool building up a head of steam. It has been an increasing frustration to see players who are clearly cheating getting rewarded with a stoppage in play and a rest for their team, who have been under the cosh at the time. For me, if there are injuries, they should just be removed from the pitch for treatment and the game should continue. That way only genuine injuries will want to have treatment.

Other than that, the only questionable decision I can remember was the lack of a penalty for a clear and very obvious shove by Jamaal Lascelles, which the referee should have at least been asked to look at and make up his mind over. I am not sure what more he needed to do to give away a penalty personally. He leans over and shoves with both hands. It was about as blatant as it gets.


Newcastle United


Howe is blaming the referee for their defeat, when clearly his tactics and idiotic decision to bench Callum Wilson were far more of a problem for Newcastle. Added to their lack of quality and confidence, they were always in for a struggle no matter how depleted Liverpool were. The Toon are a poor side with a worse manager and it is going to take some major investment or a lot of luck for them to survive this season. There is little to say about them to be honest, they were well beaten, despite their good start thanks to a poor pass, and offered little real sign of having the nous to get anything from the game.




Klopp - his team are now so well drilled that losing even two key players in their positions rarely stops the juggernaut. Though I do still think he is criminally underusing Minamino, even though he has never let the side down when he has played.


Alisson - unlucky on the Newcastle goal as he was moving the wrong way to get into position and the shot went back across him. That left him with no chance to save it. Other than that, he was much more assured again, unlike last time out.


Alexander-Arnold - an all-round performance punctuated by two moments of brilliance, one at each end of the pitch. That goal was spanked with some real power and it is unlikely Dubravka could have saved it even if he had been set when the right-back smashed it. At the other end, his tackle on Ryan Fraser was excellent and clean, despite the officials needing their usual 20min on VAR to check and check again.


Matip - he still terrifies me. You just do not know what will happen when he gets on the ball. Added to that, he takes a lot of risks defensively while lacking the recovery pace to get back if it does not pay off. To be fair to him, most of the time he gets it right, but it still leaves my heart in my mouth every time!


Konate - a much better performance from the big defender. Not just defensively, he is starting to show his technical ability on the ball with some very nice threaded passes. I like that he puts pace on his pass and forces the receiver to be awake to control it. That removes any complacency from the recipient, as well as speeding up play by moving the ball forward quickly.


Robertson - that was much more like the Robertson that Liverpool fans know and love. He is coming back to form and that is a big plus as now the Reds can offer a threat down both flanks. That was key against Newcastle, who wanted to play narrow, but could not stay there because of the runs he made.


Thiago - looked lost without Fabinho alongside him to provide an easy option for a pass all the time. Though the worst thing for me was not that he gave away the ball, but that he did not sprint back to try to rectify the mistake. Everyone makes mistakes, but you like to see players bust a gut to try and fix those errors.


Henderson - offensively he is always making forward runs and pulling the defence about, usually out on the right. Unfortunately that often left a big space in the centre, as he emptied midfield. That meant Oxlade-Chamberlain was sometimes being required to drop in and fill the gap in front of the defence, when the ideal would have been the two to be the other way round.


Oxlade-Chamberlain - never really got into the game, though he did show a few flashes of his ability.


Mane - he was unlucky not to score after latching on to Shelvey's loose pass and did well to stay on his feet and try to score. Most players would have just gone down for the penalty instead. Overally he was a constant menace, linking nicely with Robertson, though his air shot was probably the funniest moment of the game.


Salah - despite his goal, he was not at his supreme best, though still far too good for Newcastle's defence. It is little surprise he was frustrated at being taken off as he shanked a few chances that you would normally expect him to do better with. 22 goals already this season showed just how well he has performed each week, so it is little wonder that he was ever so slightly below his best. That is not bad, it is still better than the rest of the Premier League.


Jota - as is often the case with Jota, he scored but was extremely poor other than that. A few games back he looked to have figured out his role in the team, but it seems to have been a blip rather than his level. Still, you cannot really complain so long as he keeps scoring.


Keita - replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 74th minute. Keita looked really rusty after coming on, most of his passes were behind the player he was passing to, forcing them to stop their run, when he was trying to play it into their run. It was not a game to judge him in though, it was just a chance for him to get some minutes in his legs and shake off some of that rust, hopefully.


Firmino - was brought on in the 74th minute to take Salah's place. Like Keita he looked rusty and off the pace.


Milner replaced Thiago in the 90th minute. Never had time to impact at all.

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Written by Tris Burke December 18 2021 00:49:50


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