Liverpool made it two 2-0 wins on the bounce against Newcastle on Saturday, but there’s still plenty for Jurgen Klopp‘s side to improve on.
Goals from Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo secured all three points at St James’ Park, with the hosts also hampered by a red card for Nick Pope in the first half.
It was another step in the right direction for the Reds, who look well positioned to push for a top four spot between now and the end of the season.
Here, we analyse three positives and three areas for improvement from a Liverpool perspective.
POSITIVE – Alisson is better than ever
Liverpool had a numerical advantage for much of this game but still had their goalkeeper to thank for some hugely important saves.
Alisson kept out Miguel Almiron before Liverpool took the lead, and also denied the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson to ensure the Reds kept a second consecutive clean sheet.
A celebratory hug/headlock for Alisson. Big saves at crucial times tonight. During a season when so many key players have struggled for consistency he’s been immense. #LFC pic.twitter.com/zJIWC7u9ct
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) February 18, 2023
But it’s not just his shot stopping ability that makes Alisson so special, with the Brazilian’s quick goal kick up towards Mo Salah leading to Pope’s sending off in the first half.
So many of Klopp’s players have been far from good enough this season, but you certainly can’t say the same about their No. 1.
And if Real Madrid are to score at Anfield on Tuesday, they’ll need to get past the best goalkeeper on the planet.
AREA TO IMPROVE – Too many chances conceded
Alisson‘s excellence brings us on to our next, not so positive point.
Having played the majority of this game with an extra player, Liverpool should really have been able to control this match better than they ultimately did.
Watching Newcastle's chances again & atleast 3 of Newcastle's best chances (2 saved by Alisson and the one Isak shot over when completely free in centre) were primarily down to poor defending by Gomez. If Matip wasn't struggling for form too he'd start vs Madrid. Huge vvd is back
— Red (@TaintlessRed) February 19, 2023
In truth, they were lucky to come away with that clean sheet. The importance of Virgil van Dijk‘s return cannot be understated, but there were times when Joe Gomez was caught out alongside him.
With the midfield in need of reinforcement, Liverpool will probably struggle to control games for the remainder of the season, but the hope will be that they now have the necessary fire power to make up for such a flaw.
POSITIVE – “The right players scored the goals”
In his post-match interview with beIN SPORTS, Klopp explained how he felt “the right players scored the goals” for Liverpool on Saturday.
You can see his point. Nunez has played fairly well in recent weeks but hasn’t had the goals to show for it, while another goal for Gakpo certainly won’t do his confidence any harm, either.
"The patterns are clearer now!"
Jurgen Klopp was pleased with how his attacking players clicked together tonight to earn a big win at Newcastle.
#beINPL #NEWLIV ?? pic.twitter.com/JnaUSyCE5K
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) February 18, 2023
Liverpool’s attack is looking much more cohesive. Both goals were great moves from back to front, with patterns beginning to emerge between the front three.
And with Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino available once again, Klopp has plenty of options to chop and change things in his forward line.
It’s taken a while, but perhaps we’re starting to see what Liverpool’s new look attack can offer.
AREA TO IMPROVE – Refereeing standards & Nunez’s injury
This one isn’t a criticism of Liverpool, but it needed mentioning.
It would just be nice if we could go one game without some form of poor refereeing, wouldn’t it?
The moment that led to Nunez’s shoulder injury saw Kieran Trippier completely take him out, while also appearing to handle the ball on the ground.
This was a foul by Nunez for Anthony Taylor. pic.twitter.com/vXL4fdSLIE
— Kev Summers (@Kev_Summers) February 19, 2023
What did the referee give? A Newcastle free kick. Baffling.
Nunez attempted to carry on but was in too much discomfort, with Klopp concerned about the severity of the problem after the game.
The Uruguayan is now a doubt to face Real Madrid on Tuesday, a big shame when you consider what he’s offering Liverpool’s attack at present, and the problems he could cause the Real defence.
POSITIVE – League table looking better
This was always going to be a pivotal week for Liverpool, and they’ve come through it with flying colours.
The win leaves the Reds six points behind fourth placed Newcastle with a game in hand.
And should Liverpool beat Crystal Palace and Wolves in their next two Premier League encounters, they will be level on points with the Magpies before their next league match against…Man City.
It’s taken a while, but Klopp’s side are now up to 10 league victories this season which, for all the praise they’ve received, is the same amount of wins Newcastle have managed, too.
AREA TO IMPROVE – Missed opportunities
How on earth did Liverpool not score at least three goals in this game?
A goal for Jota or Firmino off the bench would have been the icing on the cake, and you can’t say they didn’t have the opportunities.
Jota, in particular, had three big chances to get himself on the scoresheet, while Salah went close to finishing off an impressive team move.
If Liverpool are to stand any chance of getting past Real Madrid, they must be ruthless in front of goal.
It didn’t matter on Saturday, but there’s every chance it will do in other matches.