By Matt Ramirez – @Matt_J_Ramirez
Liverpool continued their run as the only unbeaten side in the Premier League, defeating a resolute Newcastle side 4-0 at Anfield to stretch their lead at the top to six points over Tottenham Hotspur as Manchester City slip down to third.
Dejan Lovren opened the scoring for Jürgen Klopp, with Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho also netting to secure a vital three points for the Reds. The victory sees Liverpool go six points clear at the top of the league, with current champions Manchester City falling to defeat away at Leicester.
Liverpool fans would have been pleased before a ball was even kicked at Anfield, seeing Trent Alexander-Arnold return to the side after missing the previous two league outings through injury. Gini Wijnaldum also reclaimed his starting spot in midfield after being rested in Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Wolves on Friday night.
The opening minutes of the game saw both sides waste glorious opportunities, however in the tenth minute Liverpool took the lead through the most unlikely of sources. Another short corner worked a treat for Liverpool, with Shaqiri playing it to Andrew Robertson who curled the ball into the box.
The cross was dealt with poorly by the deep lying Geordie defence, heading it straight to Lovren who unleashed a vicious half-volley, arrowing the ball straight into the top corner, past the helpless Martin Dubravka.
Following the goal, Liverpool continued their dominance, having the lion-share of possession, finding the space and threatening to create chances. For all their dominance, Klopp’s men failed to truly threaten Dubravka’s goal for the rest of the half, but almost treated the home fans to a second in the closing minutes of the half.
A free-kick from the edge of the penalty area saw Shaqiri’s effort skim off Mohamed Diame’s head before being flicked over the bar by the diving keeper. At half time, Anfield had to settle for a one goal lead.
In the second half, Liverpool came out the blocks and within the first minute had themselves a penalty. Salah was brought down by Paul Dummet, and with James Milner not on the field, the Egyptian stepped up himself and slotted the penalty calmly into the left corner of the Newcastle goal, doubling Liverpool’s lead.
Despite his serious celebrations of late, the Egyptian king smiled in delight at yet another goal as his name rang around Anfield. With 43 minutes left to play, Liverpool were two up and cruising.
Arsenal’s visit on Saturday was clearly on the mind, with the team altering their style of play to a less intense, more possession-based system, and with Klopp making a multitude of substitutions in an attempt to rest key players.
Despite this, Liverpool continued to rack up their attempts on goal, and looked certain to ripple the Newcastle net again – which they did.
In the 79th minute, Liverpool made it three through Shaqiri. A flurry of crosses and pressure on the Newcastle back line saw the ball fall to the feet of Daniel Sturridge who in turn found the Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
The skipper fed the ball first time into the path of the advancing Alexander-Arnold, who got himself an assist on his return, driving the ball across goal and giving the Swiss Superstar an unguarded net to aim at. Three goals and three points for Liverpool, but it didn’t end there for the Anfield faithful, with a fourth goal on the way moments later.
In the 85th minute, another corner saw another goal for the Reds, with an unlikely source yet again rippling the net. After starting the game on the bench, Fabinho came on to ensure the three points stayed at Anfield, and he did just that, climbing high to score his first goal for the club.
Salah took the set-piece, bending a brilliant ball in with the inside of his left foot, and found the head of the towering Brazilian, who climbed unchallenged at the first post and nodded it expertly past Dubravka.
Liverpool continued to make chances and Anfield sang loud for the remainder of the match – with Reds fans even being treated to a brilliant save by Alisson to ensure of the clean sheet.
With Manchester City falling to defeat for the second game in a row, the Reds have now opened up a commanding lead at the top of the Premier League table.
For Klopp and his men however, they will look only to the next game on Saturday, when Arsenal visit Anfield, before heading to the Etihad on January 3rd to take on Manchester City.