Liverpool continued to spread the Christmas cheer with a dominant 4-0 win over Newcastle and a number of Reds impressed at Anfield on Boxing Day.
Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle
Premier League, Anfield
December 26, 2018
Goals: Lovren 12′, Salah 47′, Shaqiri 79′, Fabinho 85′
Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
It was an afternoon whereby Alisson was afforded the luxury of pacing around his penalty box to keep warm as Newcastle were hardly given a look at goal.
The deliveries that did require his intervention were dealt with comfortably and he delivered yet another assured performance on the front foot, with his brilliant reflex intervention in stoppage time securing his 12th clean sheet of the campaign.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5
After sitting out the last two games with a foot injury, Alexander-Arnold returned to the starting line-up in place of James Milner, who was absent from the matchday squad due to a hamstring niggle.
The youngster did not need long to find his feet, however, proving to be a constant menace going forward—both streaming down the right flank and releasing a number of exquisite, penetrating passes into the final third, leading to his assist for Xherdan Shaqiri late in the piece.
Newcastle did look to target him in their limited adventures forward, but he was untroubled and will be all the better for a comfortable run-out with a number of high-stake clashes on the horizon.
Dejan Lovren – 8
It was an assured performance which oozed confidence from Lovren. He failed to put a foot wrong in defence and kick-started Liverpool’s Boxing Day feast.
The Croatian’s emphatic goal on the half-volley came in a fashion any striker would be proud of, while his delivery over the top for Mane late in the game was sumptuous and worthy of a goal.
He was decisive when it mattered most and refused to give the visitors a sniff. Key in keeping yet another clean sheet.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
It was a comfortable afternoon for Liverpool’s back line, meaning Van Dijk had little to do in his own half.
He was aerially dominant and composed as usual and demonstrated his goal threat on a number of set pieces throughout the game.
One of his easier games as a Red.
Andy Robertson – 8.5 (Man of the Match)
Like his fellow full-back, Robertson was key to providing the width to unlock a stubborn Newcastle defence and the Scotsman was as reliable and effective as ever.
With Newcastle hardly testing his defensive capabilities he was able to occupy an advanced position for the majority of the game and showed very few signs of weakness.
His first-time delivery into the back post set up Liverpool’s opener and he never looked back from that point on as he continued his remarkable form.
Jordan Henderson – 8
The skipper was given the licence to play further forward at times, similar to against Wolves, and the freedom again showed why he is a valuable member of the team.
He is naturally suited to drifting forward and, with Gini Wijnaldum sitting behind him, he was able to have an influence further upfield—where his perfectly weighted first-time pass to Alexander-Arnold set up Shaqiri’s goal.
With Fabinho starting to be integrated into the side with more prominence, Henderson is likely to see his role change and the signs so far suggest it could be for the best.
Gini Wijnaldum – 7
Wijnaldum was deployed as the deepest of the midfielders and, like a number of team-mates, had a mixed performance.
He was strong in the tackle, as usual, but was guilty of gifting possession away too easily.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 7
It was an afternoon of both hit and miss for Shaqiri. A bright and energetic start had set the tone for the Reds, but he then lost his way slightly and offered the visitors spaces to exploit going the other way.
He created chances aplenty and his quick thinking from the corner set up the first goal, but was also culpable of seeing Liverpool’s play being more chaotic than usual.
He came out in the second half with more poise and found himself perfectly positioned to notch his name on the score sheet—his fourth in as many games.
Mohamed Salah – 8
After a bright outing against Wolves, Salah initially struggled to have the same level of impact leading the line as play was primarily directed down the flanks.
But at Anfield, teams cannot keep the Egyptian quiet for long, with his trademark cut into the box from the right flank paving the way for his goal from the spot—his 25th in 28 Premier League home games.
He proved to be a handful and his sublime corner delivery set up Fabinho‘s goal to round off yet another convincing display, as his level of performances continue to rise.
Sadio Mane – 6.5
It was a frustrating afternoon for Mane as the winger had ample opportunity to get himself on the scoreboard or set up a team-mate in a promising position, only for his final touch to evade him.
His movement was important in occupying Newcastle’s defenders and he was always in the danger zones and on the cusp of impacting the scoreboard, but like so often this season, his decision-making let him down.
Roberto Firmino – 6
The Brazilian has been working his way back to the levels we have come to expect from him over the last few weeks and this time out it was a show of both finesse and sloppiness in equal measure.
His flicks and tricks were pulled out of the bag, with his chipped through ball to Mane the highlight, but too often he handed over possession and was ineffective in the number 10 role.
While his influence was stifled, his work ethic cannot be questioned and was pulled from play with 20 minutes left as Jurgen Klopp looked towards the games ahead.
Starting XI Average Rating: 7.27
Fabinho (on for Wijnaldum, 62′) – 7.5
Seamlessly transitioned into the game and got his just rewards with his first goal for the club.
Daniel Sturridge (on for Firmino, 69′) – 7
Was eager to make an impression with the limited time he was given and he looked bright, but ultimately needed more time to make a mark.
Nathaniel Clyne (on for Robertson, 82′) – N/A
Did not get a look-in but remains in the frame for more minutes in the weeks to come.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Keita, Lallana, Origi.
Jurgen Klopp – 9
It proved to be yet another confident display from Jurgen Klopp‘s side as, despite looking off the pace late in the first half, the Reds comfortably dispatched Newcastle despite their attempts to frustrate.
Many had expected a much-changed side in anticipation for clashes against Arsenal and Man City but Klopp showed the utmost respect to the visitors as he looked to keep momentum rolling—and it paid dividends.
The win, coupled with results elsewhere, sees the Reds stretch their lead at the top of the table to six points, spreading even more festive joy to the Anfield faithful.
An important week lies ahead, but another hurdle has been safely cleared with yet another clean sheet.