Liverpool surrendered a two-goal lead against Rafael Benitez’s relegation battlers to end their winning run on an afternoon that provided plenty of talking points.
But a poor second 45 minutes and spirited fight-back from Benitez’s side with goals from Papiss Cisse and Jack Colback earned the Magpies a crucial point as they battle for their Premier League status.
It was a real game of two halves on a sunny day on Merseyside, and here are the talking points from the draw.
Inconsistency has long been associated with this current Liverpool squad, and it was plain for all to see once again at Anfield.
After breezing through the first 45 minutes – dominating the game through strong defensive play and bright offensive work – and assembling a comfortable 2-0 lead, Klopp’s side looked certain for a fifth straight win in a sign that this was now a transformed group.
But a lack of consistency in performance level as the Reds badly faded allowed Newcastle to stage an unlikely come-back, with sharpness both in and out of possession completely lost which Klopp’s men couldn’t recover.
Inconsistent performances end in sloppy results, and this was one of those which ruined all hopes Liverpool may have had of enjoying the perfect preparation ahead of Thursday night’s first leg clash with Villarreal.
As they chase European glory, the Reds will have to ensure that performances over the two-legs are more like the first half than the second against Benitez’s side.
Mignolet Missing in Action
Liverpool’s first choice stopper added to his long list of inadequate performances this season with another dismal showing against the Geordies.
After another 45 minutes of having nothing to do in the first period, being instantly called into action in the second half caught Mignolet by surprise with the Belgian looking like he had forgotten how to be a goalkeeper, losing his bearings completely in a dreadful second half.
While a poor goal to concede all-round, the Reds’ stopper was primarily at fault for the visitors’ first – woefully misjudging Vurnon Anita’s cross allowing Cisse to head into an empty Kop net – and his reactions to a slight deflection off Dejan Lovren for Jack Colback’s equaliser were also non-existent.
Yet again Mignolet conceded with the first shot on his goal – in fact he conceded all four on-target shots the Magpies posted against the Reds this season – and he failed to make the type of saves at big moments that goalkeeper’s of genuine class pull off; a worrying feat for a ‘keeper whose shot-stopping is one of his better attributes.
It’s also yet another game where one of the major talking points is an unimpressive display from the Belgian and upgrading him must be a priority this summer.
Alberto Moreno Impresses
The Spanish left-back has been in excellent form recently, and he continued his promising upturn with another impressive display at Anfield.
It was down to Moreno’s quick thinking that Daniel Sturridge was provided with the chance to fire the Reds ahead – as he picked out the lethal striker with a delightful lofted pass that caught the Newcastle defence unaware.
And he provided Liverpool’s second of the afternoon too – his seventh assist, more than Philippe Coutinho has provided this season – bombing forward to link up well in a neat passage of play before remaining composed and laying the ball to Adam Lallana who curled into the top corner.
The left-back was also solid in his defensive duties all afternoon, not at fault for either goal, but most pleasingly of all was after a brief injury scare early on, he appeared to come through the game unscathed, ready to continue his good run on Thursday night.
Liverpool Lose Two-Goal Lead Again
Two-nil is always a dangerous lead so they say, and it has proved exactly that for the Reds this season.
Time and again this season Klopp’s men have taken their foot off the pedal when 2-0 to the good and though they have shown a fantastic desire under the German to strike-back, their resilience and determination to hold on to what they’ve worked so hard to assemble is a feature that must improve.
Another collapse against the north east side saw the Reds become the Premier League’s most prolific team at surrendering points from winning positions (19) – something that must improve as Klopp looks to make an impact in his first full season.
Reds Feel Sakho Absence
Shock news broke prior to kick-off of Mamadou Sakho being investigated by UEFA for possibly failing a drugs test – meaning the Frenchman missed the visit of Benitez’s side.
The Reds defence had nothing to do in a dominant first-half, but when called into action as the tide turned in the second period, Liverpool’s rear-guard failed to meet the challenge, without Nathaniel Clyne and more importantly, the leading Frenchman.
Liverpool’s defence have developed into a cohesive unit in recent months, but the back-line were disjointed in their work against Benitez’s side, lacking the leading presence Sakho provides as well as his cool head to organise and marshal the defence.
His game reading skills and awareness to danger were also sorely missed as was the centre-back’s composed distribution and physical dominance he offers.
After stating that he will be unavailable for selection while the process is undertaken, how Liverpool will be hoping for a quick resolution with the 2-2 draw showing just how much his absence will be felt at a crucial time of the season.