Liverpool back to their best, Mac Allister needs to seize chance as Newcastle duo need to relax – what we learned at Anfield

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Joined: Nov 2016

Manchester City might have been feeling good about themselves while watching Liverpool and Arsenal over Christmas, but that may have now changed.

Their long-time Premier League title rivals – the ones from Merseyside – put in arguably a season-best performance against Newcastle for a 4-2 win.


Liverpool looked like a title-challenging team in a dominant winCredit: Getty
In reality, it could have very easily been a demolition job on the scoresheet, with the Reds racking up the highest expected goals figure on record 7.53, to the Magpies 0.70.

On top of that they had the highest number of shots in a first half of any league game this season, and finished the game with a whopping 34 to Newcastle’s five.

Their opponents, meanwhile, made it four defeats on the bounce, while their alarming total of injuries reached an eye-watering 11.

The game could mark a turning point for both teams, however, there was plenty more context on offer for us to learn from…

Liverpool have a plaster for their AFCON pain
The time that every Liverpool fan has been dreading has finally come, with Mohamed Salah jetting off for the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

The Egyptian talisman was at his best even with a penalty miss, going on to register two goals and an assist in the win, and looking unplayable at times with an extraordinary range of passing.

His loss will be huge, and while he’s borderline irreplaceable, they have someone who can at least try.


Jota is no Salah, but he’s at least at home in the penalty boxCredit: Getty


Jota’s looking ready to fire in his few minutes so far
With Darwin Nunez again misfiring and Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo not at their best, Diogo Jota is back looking like his old self that stunned on arrival from Wolves. 

The Portuguese forward has returned from a month off with a goal and an assist in two games, and in his cameos he’s shown the kind of instinctual finishing and dynamic forward play that only Salah possesses on current form.

The 27-year-old hasn’t played 90 minutes since October, but the rest seems to have done him good, and Klopp will surely be placing him straight in his front three as his main man up top.

Mac Allister’s back at the perfect time
Wataru Endo is developing into a key player for Liverpool, starting eight straight games and seemingly settling in better as the weeks pass.

That makes his departure to the Asian Cup with Japan all the more detrimental to the Reds, although there was one positive sight.

The defensive midfielder made way for Alexis Mac Allister with 15 minutes to play, with the Argentine returning to the fold after almost a month out.


Endo’s growing every game ahead of his departure


Liverpool’s title charge could rest on Mac AllisterCredit: Getty
Mac Allister, an attacking midfielder by trade, will now fill that role for January and likely much of February, and he showed Anfield what he has to offer.

Collecting the ball just outside the home penalty area, the former Brighton man played a stunning through-ball half the length of the pitch, leaving Jota one-on-one, and he was able to win a penalty to seal the three points.

Discussing both Salah and Endo, Klopp told talkSPORT: “Both are big misses, there’s no doubt about it. But we wish them good luck, even though it’s not 100 per cent honest!

“We will miss them, but that’s how it is, we knew it before, we have solutions and we will try to enjoy it, trying something else.”

Newcastle are still fighting, starting from the back
With a painful 11 injuries and a four-game losing streak, things aren’t going to get any easier for Newcastle, who have Sunderland, Man City and Aston Villa next.

A decimated squad may be added to in January, but one area of need may be solved.


Dubravka was inspired


He stopped the game becoming a bloodbath
With Nick Pope out until April, there have been links to replacement goalkeepers, but Martin Dubravka looks more than ready to step up.

Salah was Sky’s player of the match, but the goalkeeper wasn’t far behind, making ten saves, a number of which were stunning, including one from the spot.

Newcastle’s Brazilians need to behave in a time of need
Two of Eddie Howe’s most trusted players, and firm fans’ favourites, Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton will be key in getting the Magpies out of their current rut.

However, against Liverpool they didn’t show the level required, and both were lucky to stay on the pitch.


Newcastle’s Brazilians are playing a risky gameCredit: AFP
Both were booked during the match, leaving Guimares on 11 for the season, and Joelinton on eight in all competitons.

Discussing the latter, England legend Stuart Pearce said: “He’s definitely old school, I’m pretty sure I played against him in 1976!

“If Joelinton sees the game out, well then my goodness me, it would be incredible.”

With Newcastle now dropping to ninth in the table and the tough games coming thick and fast, they need calm heads in the middle of the park, and not another reason for things to spiral out of control.


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