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Ruthless in attack & Klopp’s fantastic full-backs – 5 talking points from Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle

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Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table with a dominant performance and 4-0 win over Newcastle United at Anfield.

Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle

Premier League, Anfield
December 26, 2018

Goals: Lovren 12′, Salah pen 47′, Shaqiri 79′, Fabinho 85′


 

Klopp’s own brand of rotation

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, December 10, 2018: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Many thought, heading into this match, that Liverpool might look to make wholesale changes to the lineup, akin to the approach to the Burnley match.

With big games ahead against Arsenal and Man City, there will be little room for manoeuvre either side of the new year—but Jurgen Klopp opted to mostly stick with his key starters.

Xherdan Shaqiri came in, Gini Wijnaldum returned and Trent Alexander-Arnold made his comeback from injury, but the real backups of the squad didn’t get a look-in.

Instead, Klopp utilised a different approach: Work up a lead, then make changes before the energy-sapping final 20 minutes.

Often we’ve seen the boss delay changes, sometimes infuriatingly so, but here two changes were made between 60 and 70 minutes, giving significant rests to Gini Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino.

Andy Robertson was the last to be afforded a late break—completing a trio of subbed-off players who get through a tremendous amount of running every game for the Reds.

It’s a different way to go about giving players time off, so let’s hope it keeps them at full capacity for the upcoming games.

 

Salah’s form

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Boxing Day, Wednesday, December 26, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the second goal, from a penalty kick, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s Egyptian King had a few questions aimed his way earlier in the season, but he has batted any doubts about his enduring quality away with a series of key performances.

He now has six goals in his last five games, and three assists in the last six on top of that.

Salah won the penalty which he dispatched himself and was a constant presence in the final third for the Reds, despite not really seeing the shooting chances fall his way on this occasion.

He’s now fully integrated as the team’s centre-forward and leads the line particularly well, even when space isn’t afforded to him to run into, thanks to his close control and ability to pick a pass.

It was also nice to see the Reds score off Salah’s corner after some terrible dead-ball deliveries of late!

 

Full-backs impressive

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Boxing Day, Wednesday, December 26, 2018: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Trent Alexander-Arnold made his return from injury and looked as though he’d never been away, putting in a faultless performance.

Some of his passing was sublime, pinging the ball on the diagonal from one side of the pitch to the other or setting away a chance for the forwards with a clever through-ball.

Opposite him, Andy Robertson was his usual self, a non-stop outlet down the left, a motoring presence down the wing and utterly reliable chasing back to defend his own half of the pitch.

They’ll both be crucial for the Reds during upcoming matches and it’s imperative to have them fit and in-form.

 

Ruthless, rampant Reds

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Boxing Day, Wednesday, December 26, 2018: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With well over 70 per cent possession to their name for most of the match, the scoreline reflects Liverpool’s superiority.

But it didn’t have to be that way—only for the Reds to refuse to sit back, accept a low-key victory and grind out the win.

Instead, we see a team full of confidence and wanting to keep doing what they do best: attacking, creating, scoring. Two wasn’t enough. Three wasn’t enough. Liverpool kept going even had chances to score more goals after that late flurry.

It’s exactly what we want to see: not just winning matches, but utterly and furiously pummeling teams into submission.

The goals keep coming and so do the clean sheets: Liverpool now have the same goal difference as Man City.

 

Lead extended, top at City

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Boxing Day, Wednesday, December 26, 2018: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after beating Newcastle United 4-0 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking of City—a second defeat in a row means they drop to third, with Spurs up to second.

Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League table now stands at a thoroughly impressive six points, still unbeaten at the halfway stage of the campaign.

It also means that, regardless of the result when Arsenal visit Anfield, the Reds will be top when they head to the Etihad to face Man City in the new year.

Optimism has never been higher around Anfield, and nor have the chances of them going on and finally, at long last, landing this most coveted of titles.

One game at a time…but today’s game was another big step along the path to success.

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