It is more disappointment for Jurgen Klopp’s side as they fail to take the chance to go five points clear at the top of the table. Liverpool dropped two more points away from home in a competitive encounter against Newcastle.
Both sides had good chances to score, with Liverpool slightly edging the number of shots and the shots on target. They had the majority of possession and used it well to create good chances, forcing Karl Darlow to make a number of fantastic saves. Roberto Firmino had a couple of good headers well-saved.
Mohamed Salah had the best opportunities of the game. After Salah controlled the ball down nicely, Darlow produced a fingertip save when one-on-one with the Egyptian. His second chance came in the second half and after he did well to create half a yard of space in the box, Salah put his shot wide of the past. It was uncharacteristic of him to miss the big opportunity and summed up Salah’s evening.
Generally, Liverpool played well but could have done a lot more to put pressure on Newcastle’s defence. Very often the Reds’ final pass was poor, relieving all the pressure that they had built up. The defence performed well and dealt with the few Newcastle chances that they had to. However, it did look as though Virgil van Dijk was missed to help Liverpool’s build-up play. Van Dijk is exceptional at playing a long through ball, which puts Liverpool in dangerous positions a lot quicker than when they have to build starting from the back.
Thiago was a bright spark but the substitutions came too late
Liverpool welcomed back summer signing Thiago Alcantara, who was introduced to the game in the 73rd minute. He made a huge difference to Liverpool’s play and was their best player on the night. Very often the midfield failed to make an incisive pass to open up the Newcastle defence. However, this all changed when Thiago graced the pitch. His passes helped to unlock Newcastle’s defence and the Reds would have scored if the front three had their shooting boots on.
Thiago’s substitution made a big difference and it was probably for fitness-related reasons that he didn’t play more minutes. But more positive substitutions needed to happen earlier in the game. Newcastle’s defence made it very difficult for Liverpool to create lots of good chances and Liverpool needed to add another forward to try to do so.
This game would have been perfect for Xherdan Shaqiri to make an impact, but instead Georginio Wijnaldum replaced Curtis Jones in the 68th minute. This was a poor decision as Wijnaldum is rarely the creative spark in the midfield. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino were also available but frustratingly not used.
Liverpool’s Achilles heel needs to be addressed
Over the last two seasons, Liverpool have done a great job in dealing with any opposition en route to both European and English titles. However, prior to this Liverpool did struggle to break down defensive teams.
This was something that saw Liverpool drop a lot of points and something that is beginning to happen again. They have dropped points to four of the bottom six already this season.
Klopp will need to address this and work out how best go around this problem. He has done so before by bringing in personnel or changing the formation slightly.
If there was any reason for Liverpool not retaining the Premier League, it would be down to not being able to pick up points against low-block teams.