The good, the bad & the title-winners – Debating Newcastle 1-3 Liverpool

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Liverpool came from a goal down to clinch their 32nd win of the season at Newcastle, ending a memorable title-winning season on a high.

After 351 days from when Liverpool started their campaign against Norwich, it came to an end on a winning note as champions against Newcastle.

Virgil van Dijk, Divock Origi and Sadio Mane all etched their name onto the scoresheet for the final time in 2019/20, ensuring the puzzling early setback was just that.

The result saw Jurgen Klopp‘s side end the season with an astonishing 99 points, a club record and one which highlights how consistent this side has been having collected 196 from a possible 228 across the last two seasons.

Here, This Is Anfield duo Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) and Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) are joined by Samuel Cox (@samueljessecox) to discuss the highs and the lows from Liverpool’s victory before reflecting on what has been an incredible season.

 

The good…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 26, 2020: Divock Origi (L) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate Virgil van Dijk during the final match of the FA Premier League season between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St. James' Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

SAMUEL: 1-0 down away to Newcastle within a minute, with a much-changed side and the Premier League in the bag this Liverpool team could have been forgiven for letting this game slip.

Instead, they managed to overcome a slightly disjointed line-up to battle back and reclaim the lead, just as Klopp was bringing on the big guns. It was not always pretty, but this game showed even fielding a largely second-string side Liverpool exhibits championship mentality. It is in all their DNA now.

It might not be as heartfelt or poetic as 96, but 99 points cements this team, each and every one of them, in the history books. Rightly so.

KARL: Nowhere near as dramatic as some, but coming from behind to win has been a key hallmark of the team so it was a reminder that it still exists when needed.

As mentioned, the points haul is absurdly good and giving a few players a decent run-out is also a positive.

The big one is Naby Keita: form and fitness since lockdown is an enormous positive and I’m very hopeful he can maintain this into the next season when it’ll really matter more.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 26, 2020: Liverpool’s Sadio Mané (C) celebrates after scoring the third goal during the final match of the FA Premier League season between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St. James' Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 3-1 and finished the season as Champions on 99 points. (Pic by Propaganda)

JOANNA: It was a nice cherry on top to finish this incredible season on a winning note, one which we seemed to cruise through in second gear.

It’s always a pleasure to see Van Dijk loop a header into the back of the net, as it is to see Mane curl one in and it was only right two of the standouts from this season signed us off in style.

Keita looked bright and lively once again, confidence obviously having grown game by game since the restart and here’s hoping another pre-season will see him fire on all cylinders consistently next season.

It was, obviously, a game devoid of pressure, which only shows how remarkable 2019/20 has been as the last few years we’ve been teetering on the edge of our seats and filled with nerves.

99 points and to think we’ve fallen to defeat just four times in the last 76 league games. Up the title-winning Reds.

 

The really not so bad…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 26, 2020: Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp speaks to his players during a water break during the final match of the FA Premier League season between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St. James' Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propagandab)

SAMUEL: The team performance was honestly disjointed but looking at the line up that was always going to be the case. Out of a front three of Minamino, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Origi, the Belgian is the only true forward and more of a finisher than anything else.

Ox and Minamino are versatile players but are both more suited to an attacking midfield role. Nonetheless, all three displayed their ability to influence games, reminding us whilst they may not be Firmino, Mane and Salah – and let us be honest no one is – they all have the ability to make key game-changing contributions.

Ox and Origi have proven to have special moments in their locker over the last 18 months and Minamino – with that twist, turn and ferocious shot – looks to be settling in and well capable of the same.

KARL: Not the greatest game for Neco Williams and he’ll have to quickly find the standards required of consistency if he is to become a genuine regular option.

Alisson not being able to keep a clean sheet in his last five will be a real frustration, given it was largely as a result of his defence leaving him exposed all the time.

But basically, nobody should be moaning about anything after this season!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 26, 2020: Liverpool’s Naby Keita (L) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (R) challenge Newcastle United's Matt Ritchie during the final match of the FA Premier League season between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St. James' Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propagandab)

JOANNA: I don’t think you can read too much into any negatives such was the circumstances around the game, but in saying that it did bring an issue to the fore once more.

That being that the drop off from our regular front three is too vast. Origi is largely viewed as the fourth-choice option and for Liverpool to continue to evolve that can’t be.

He got his goal to end a 23-game drought in impressive fashion, but his overall game is not conducive to the Reds moving forward and it will be interesting to see how Klopp and Co. approach this heading into next season.

I suppose another thing to learn from the game is not to hand the team the ball back for a free-kick without running interference.

 

And how do you reflect on Liverpool’s title-winning season and finally seeing the trophy hoisted into the air?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 22, 2020: Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson lifts the Premier League trophy after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 5-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SAMUEL: Klopp’s team has been so consistent and the team so dominant it is easy to slip into a state of expectation and complacency.

As human beings, we rapidly normalise things, even excellence. There is nothing normal about this Liverpool team’s performances. It may well be the best Liverpool team we will ever see. Their only competition, I hope, will be next season’s! But really, with the final game done, we all need to take a step back and enjoy it.

I was born (relatively) shortly after Liverpool’s last title win, so Hendo lifting the trophy was really the culmination of my life supporting Liverpool thus far. Even amongst the close calls and near misses, even with the worst teams we have fielded, I would still be excited to watch them play, ever hopeful it was all just around the corner.

In the end, it has all come at once, with the sweetest of all saved till last.

KARL: Incredible, unreal, so, so admirable.

What this team have achieved this term in winning all but one game heading into the new year defies description. You just don’t see that in the top, most competitive leagues in Europe.

The relentlessness and determination of the team are, on a personal level, the most prized and admired traits of all – the ferocity with which we went after points simply mirrors the way I’ve always seen and believed football should be played.

Everyone will have their own connections and stories and bits of the team and season they love – that was mine. That’s what will stick with me for all the years to come, those moments when we simply said ‘no’ to defeats, and especially to draws, and did whatever we needed to for the three points.

Can’t wait to try and do it all again next year!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 22, 2020: Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (#9) celebrates scoring the fourth goal, to make the score 4-1, with team-mates Trent Alexander-Arnold (C) and Mohamed Salah (R) during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: It’s been nothing short of unbelievable and in some ways, I still find it hard to believe, in part because I don’t think it’s truly sunk in yet.

It’s always been a long harboured dream to see my team finish the season with the right to go up on the podium and lift the trophy and I’ve watched countless teams do just that over the years, but I’d switch it off soon after as I’m a slightly sore loser in that way.

Liverpool have scarcely earned that right for me to feel such a way but it’s something I’ve desperately wanted to see and now it’s reality.

And this team deserve every credit, plaudit and praise they have and will still go on to receive having set the benchmark with a relentless run of form which beggars belief.

They have created memories to last a lifetime and those shared experiences with family and friends are something to behold, from the late win at Villa to the Leicester demolition and that Man United win. Immortals.

So thank you, to Jurgen Klopp, to the players and to everyone who made No. 19 happen and dreams come true.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is now available to pre-order exclusively on This Is Anfield — now completed with the Premier League trophy lift!

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