Liverpool came back from a goal down to defeat Newcastle United 3-1 at Anfield last night. Ex Red Jonjo Shelvey gave Newcastle a shock lead after 7 minutes, before Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah quickly replied. Alexander-Arnold sealed the victory with a  rocket late on. Here’s a review of the game.

You can find player ratings from the match here:

° Covid strikes. Van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones were all ruled out of the match with suspected positive Covid test results. This almost certainly rules them out for the weekend’s game at Spurs. This comes after an outbreak amongst Premier League players and staff this past week which has led to several matches being postponed.

° Shelvey’s stunner. The match itself kicked off with no hitches, at least until Shelvey stunned Anfield into silence. It was a good breakaway, and when Thiago toe poked a weak clearance straight to Shelvey, Jonjo had only one thought on his mind. His shot swerved in the air as it nestled in the bottom corner. That was their first attack.

° Lightening quick response. 14 minutes after conceding, Liverpool were back level. 4 minutes after that, they were ahead. It was a splendid response to that initial setback. They created chances at will almost, and could have had further goals through Jota and Konaté before the break. It was all out attack as they besieged Dubravka’s goal.

° Too open on the counter. Take away Fabinho and Van Dijk and you’ve ripped half of the spine right out of the side. Their absence was noticeable every time Newcastle broke. Saint-Maximin found lots of joy on the break and could have put Newcastle ahead but for a strong handed save from Alisson.

The Reds were simply too open, with any misplaced passes usually spelling trouble. The balance wasn’t right and the team lacked protection when they attacked. There were times the full backs and the entire midfield were caught out of position. It made for a very nervy encounter, with the game not being entirely safe till Trent scored.

° Sensational Salah. Mo was in the zone in the first half and his teammates kept feeding him the ball. Every single time he got on it, you could sense he would conjure up something. I still can’t believe that outside of the boot first time pass to Mané. He should have had another goal when sent through by Ox. Yet another record breaking night for him.

Mohamed Salah celebrating his goal last night

° Tight second half. The Reds were less gung ho second half as they tried to kill off the game with a third whilst limiting Newcastle’s chances on the counter. Eddie Howe’s men went close a few times but didn’t really trouble Alisson. Liverpool passed up some good opportunities before Trent had his say in the 87th minute.

° Imperious Ibou. The 22 year old was monstrous in the second half as he seemed to wisen up to Saint-Maximin’s tricks. He thwarted several attacks and showcased one piece of exquisite control on the byline to win the ball back without giving away a cheap throw. He made the most interceptions (3) of any Red to go along with his whopping 13 ball recoveries.

The 22 year old is an exciting talent. You can see him growing in confidence with each outing. He dovetailed well with Joel Matip who himself had a very good game. Matip led his side in ground duels won (7), aeriel duels won (4), tackles won (3) and pass accuracy (92%). He’s been brilliant so far this season.

° Trent thunderbolt. There was more than shades of Steven Gerrard when Trent sent a rocket past Dubravka to seal the victory from all of 25 yards out. The 23 year old had been picking up central positions throughout the match as his tactical evolution under Jürgen Klopp continues.

He created the most chances (3) on the night, as he took his tally for the calendar year to 101 chances created in the league! That’s just 6 off what Kevin De Bruyne managed in 2020. It’s mind boggling stuff to see a defender with such ridiculous output. He showcased excellent defensive traits too with a crucial last ditch tackle on Fraser. He can do it all it seems. Unreal.

The best full back on planet earth

° Keeping pace. With Manchester City ruthlessly disposing off Leeds United 7-0, Liverpool had no room for error. They notched their eighth win in a row in all competitions to move back to within a point of the Citizens and capitalise on Chelsea dropping points.

° Chelsea slip up. Chelsea couldn’t keep up as they slipped to a 1-1 draw against an Everton side wouldn’t look amiss in the early rounds of the League Cup. Chelsea’s excellent defence is what kept them in the title race; they’ve now failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 7 in all competitions and it is telling.

Liverpool have gone from 4 points behind Tuchel’s men to 3 points above them in just a matter of weeks. A 7 point swing indicates a side that is stuttering in the most hectic part of the season. City have now won 7 league games in a row, the Reds have won 6 in a row, whilst Chelsea have only managed 2 wins in their last 5.

It is the worst time to have a wobble as the games keep coming thick and fast. The only hope they have of keeping within touching distance of the top two is if there’s an enforced break. Which leads me on to the next point:

° Pausing proceedings. With the increasing number of postponed fixtures, an enforced break is a very real possibility. The league could be paused after this weekend’s fixtures and then resumed in the middle of January. A meeting has been scheduled for Monday to discuss the way forward.

It’s a harrowing throwback to when the league first took a break in March last year. It’s nightmarish to even contemplate a return to football behind closed doors. Yuck. A break will be a big blow for Liverpool as we will more than likely see a glut of league fixtures rearranged in the period where AFCON takes place.

We could go from Salah, Mané and Keita missing just two league games to a scenario where they miss as many as 6! Two fixtures without the trio is manageable, 6 exceeds that threshold especially when you realise the trip to Stamford Bridge will be one of those six.

° Up next. A trip to Antonio Conte’s revitalised Spurs awaits on Sunday. Spurs have overcome an outbreak of positive Covid tests which has seen their last three games postponed (albeit the last one was due to Leicester not having enough first team players to field).

It is another must win for Liverpool and they have to try and keep Son under wraps better than they managed with Saint-Maximin. City have picked up a head of steam and travel to Saint James Park to face Newcastle two and half hours before we kickoff at Spurs. Even without Van Dijk and Fabinho, the Reds have to win.


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