Liverpool will once again look back at the plethora of missed chances, as several impressive saves from Karl Darlow in the Newcastle goal denied the Reds the three points on Tyneside.
On a night where fan much anticipation surrounded the return of Thiago Alcântara to the matchday squad, Klopp’s side were unable to ride this positive wave as they disappointed consistently in the final third, squandering a number of chances.
This performance had many similarities with the previous fixture against West Brom, which will thoroughly disappoint the Reds head coach as he challenged his side to return to the ruthless streak they showed against Crystal Palace. Unfortunately, they were unable to do that, as the forward line in particular failed to fire.
Liverpool as expected dominated possession from the off and did so for the full duration of the game but chances were few and far between in the first half. The best chance fell to Salah who was denied brilliantly by Darlow, as his effort was tipped around the post after being put clean through.
With Newcastle settling into their defensive shape after the interval, the Reds pushed further forward, forcing the ball into the front three hoping they could produce a moment of magic. Chances came and went for Salah, Firmino and Mané but all were unable to convert.
The best of all the chances fell to the Egyptian, who after finding space and a free avenue to goal, put his strike wide in a finish that was harder to score. With the ball consistently rebounding off the brilliant Karl Darlow and luckily falling to Newcastle players, it was clear it wasn’t going to be Liverpool’s night.
The one positive from the evening will be the return of Thiago who looked a class act when he made his entrance with just over 15 minutes remaining. His passing talent was on show consistently during this period with an array of wonderful passes that will impress many.
The Reds now have a three-point lead ahead of Manchester United – who have a game in hand – going into the new year. With Southampton up next at St Mary’s, it will be paramount that Klopp’s side drop no further points as they aim to re-establish a cushion at the top of the Premier League.
Liverpool made two changes from the draw against West Brom three days prior. Gini Wijnaldum was rested, whilst it was announced that Joël Matip would miss three weeks with the abductor injury suffered against the Baggies. Nat Phillips and James Milner took their places in the starting line-up.
Here are my winners and losers from the game:
James MilnerEmbed from Getty Images
Mr Consistent was back in the starting line-up again and putting in another excellent performance. He was easily Liverpool’s best player on the night. Going full throttle into every tackle, winning them and calling upon his team mates around him to do the same, is the figure head the Reds needed in this game.
With Henderson having a below par performance, the former England international brought it upon himself to dominate and provide the driving force in midfield. Even after picking up two nasty knocks in the first 25 minutes, Milner continued to put others around him to shame with his work rate and polished showing.
Liverpool’s best chances in the first 70 minutes came from him starting and playing a significant part in the moves, whilst his defensive duties were completed to perfection as he was disciplined throughout. Matty Longstaff in particular found it difficult to handle the experienced midfielder, who had the Newcastle player trailing after him the majority of the time.
His eventual substitution was needed to provide further attacking prowess, with the introduction of Thiago opening up the Newcastle defence on a couple of occasions. However, his substitution should only be seen as a tactical move and he has firmly pushed his name forwards once again to start against Southampton in five days’ time.
Mohamed SalahEmbed from Getty Images
A wasteful evening for the Egyptian who squandered two major chances to give the Reds three points. His first effort was brilliantly saved by the inspired Darlow in the Newcastle net, but he will be desperately disappointed with his second attempt in which he should have added to his Premier League goal tally.
It will also be classed as a frustrating one for the Reds goal machine, who failed to affect the game in any other way, losing possession as he struggled to hold the ball up at all, with Matt Ritchie causing trouble for him when he returned to his defensive duties.
His runs in behind where never spotted by any of his midfield colleagues as they opted for balls towards the left side. This limited his impact severely and would only start to get some consistent service when Thiago came on. Even then his threat would be limited as Klopp would opt to sub on Shaqiri for the winger near the end of the game.
The last two games have seen the forward have limited effect against the two lowly sides the Reds have faced due to their deep defensive set ups. Salah is just going through a period of adjustment and working out how he can score, with these tactics now the norm for Liverpool to face. Once he figures this out, I am sure we will be seeing goals galore from the 28-year-old.
Sadio ManéEmbed from Getty Images
Another who endured an evening of disappointment. The Senegal international thoroughly struggled to get any momentum and was regularly shut down by DeAndre Yedlin, who played extremely well all evening, as he also failed to make any significant impact.
His acceleration and strength, two key components of his game, were ineffective as the American international coped with both and when Mané did manage to get in behind, the Newcastle centre halves managed to deal with threat that he posed.
Like every top-class player, he would manage to work his way into one good chance. After swift movement in between the two Magpie centre backs, Alexander-Arnold drilled a cross towards the 28-year-old to tap home. Unfortunately for the Reds, his effort was cleared off the line by the diving Fabian Schär with five minutes remaining.
Like his fellow winger, Mané is working out how he can be effective when the opposition retreat deep behind the ball. This has happened a lot so far this season, as the Liverpool front three have struggled to break down the teams in the bottom six. However, like Salah, once the former Southampton player works it out, there will be goals flowing once again from his boots. Hopefully, this can start against his former side on Monday evening.
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