Liverpool fans were again left furious after more costly points were dropped against Newcastle, with Jurgen Klopp‘s substitutions questioned.
The Reds had the opportunity to jump to fourth in the Premier League table on Saturday, but fluffed their lines badly at Anfield.
Mohamed Salah‘s superb early strike suggested Liverpool were on their way to a routine victory, but endless missed chances proved costly.
Having dodged a bullet after Callum Wilson’s last-gasp effort was ruled out for handball, Joe Willock then equalised in the dying seconds.
Here, This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) is joined by Dan Clubbe (@dan_clubbe) and John O’Sullivan (@NotoriousJOS) to discuss the positives and negatives, also focusing on Klopp’s subs.
DAN: Very little. I’ve gone beyond saying ‘we created chances but the final moment wasn’t there’ – there’s only so long that can wash.
Perhaps the two brightest points were Salah’s sublime finish when everything looked rosy and the chance of a comfortable afternoon was on the cards.
Secondly the fact we are now just five games away from saying goodbye to an utter nightmare campaign.
Curtis Jones‘ return and another impressive Ozan Kabak outing are also worthy of an honourable mention, on an otherwise bleak day.
JOHN: There’s not much good to choose from, sadly.
Some of the interplay between the front four was really nice and incisive. Their finishing was abysmal, but they created any number of chances.
Thiago was superb and his substitution was a huge factor in Liverpool dropping points. His passing was incisive and sharp and the Reds’ inability to regulate possession when he went off was costly.
Alisson, after a poor few weeks, has been good in the last two games.
It’s an indictment of the rest of the team that they had to rely on him to make saves against such a poor team, but he stood up when needed.
HENRY: Salah’s goal was a breathtaking moment of quality – he is single-handedly carrying this attack at the moment and 29 goals for the season is incredible.
He might not be blameless, in terms of Liverpool’s profligacy, but he is running away with the Reds’ Player of the Year award.
I agree that Kabak did well, especially after getting an early yellow card, and I thought there were moments of class from Thiago and Firmino.
As John says, it’s one step closer to the summer, which is a massive positive!
DAN: The 92 minutes that followed Salah’s goal.
Having taken the lead so early, in normal times watching this side we would be debating how many we would win by, particularly at Anfield.
In its current guise, however, it’s as though Anfield is the last place these players want to be.
Yet again, Liverpool were wasteful having created a host of highly presentable chances – Sadio Mane‘s decision-making and ability to do the right thing has completely deserted him.
It also has to be said that both Diogo Jota and Trent Alexander-Arnold were way off their usual levels, although the latter was slightly unfortunate not to score a wonder goal late on.
JOHN: The finishing. Good god, what can you say?
Mane and Salah were both guilty of spurning huge openings. Other parts of the team weren’t at their best, but it would have been moot if the forwards had taken such gimme opportunities.
Wijnaldum was poor. It’s tempting to say he’s dialled it in because he’s leaving soon, but the reality is probably that all the minutes he’s played are catching up with him.
Either way, he was overly safe on the ball and found wanting several times when Newcastle found it easy to play through the Reds’ midfield.
I’d give his minutes to someone else between now and the season’s end.
HENRY: My god, this season! It’s turning into a never-ending nightmare that you can’t wake up from.
Sadly, even when the goal was disallowed in stoppage time, I still felt Liverpool would concede, which says a lot about their current mental state and our faith in them.
That ‘Mentality Monsters’ tag has to go in the bin for the time being, because these lads are a shambles at the moment.
I’m with Dan and John that the finishing was clearly the biggest negative, with Jota the most guilty. He was atrocious in his all-round game, too.
This constant wastefulness has held Liverpool back all season long, becoming an even greater issue than the absence of our three best centre-backs.
In terms of other individuals, Mane is a complete shadow of himself and it’s sad to see, while the likes of Trent, Wijnaldum and Andy Robertson were off the boil as well.
And Klopp’s subs…
DAN: Elephant in the room time. If we are all honest with each other, Klopp’s in-game management has always left plenty to be desired.
While the introduction of James Milner and subsequent change of shape meant Liverpool seemed to lose a grip of the game, it was the withdrawal of Thiago that was most baffling.
Although it still wasn’t the dazzling display we had all envisaged when he arrived, Thiago had all but controlled the game for the Reds and would’ve offered an opportunity to retain possession when the game became frantic in the final 10 minutes before we were punished, twice.
In five years, very rarely have Klopp’s replacements changed the game in a positive way, although playing devil’s advocate, the decision to introduce Gini Wijnaldum at half-time against Barcelona was a standout moment.
JOHN: I’ve found a lot of the flak he’s received this season mind-boggling, given the circumstances and the absences.
But his changes were mystifying.
Mane, who is clearly jaded to a massive degree, stayed on, while Jota went off, despite looking sharp.
Thiago being hooked was a real head-scratcher. I agreed with Milner coming on — if only to fill the leadership void — but I would’ve taken off Mane.
HENRY: I totally agree the subs have been a weakness of Klopp’s since the day he arrived – it’s all a bit bizarre, considering what a special manager he is.
The decision to take off Thiago was the killer – as Dan says, he was running the show and there simply wasn’t any need to replace him.
Of course, Liverpool would have won if they were capable of just taking chances and seeing out the final seconds of a game, but the performance level dropped after Thiago was subbed.
Klopp only has himself to blame, in that respect. He looks in need of a breather as much as his players, following such a draining season on and off the pitch.