Liverpool completely demolished Newcastle at Anfield 4-0, including a first goal for Fabinho and a rocket from Dejan Lovren. Read about the game that put Liverpool 6 points clear on top of the league.
After seemingly an endless number of rumoured line-ups later, the official XI was announced. Trent Alexander-Arnold returned to his right-back position, Milner was absent due to a hamstring injury and our famed front-three started together once again. With an objective to stay four points clear atop the Premier League, Jurgen’s reds emerged from Anfield’s tunnel and took shape, kick off.
Seemingly a 4-2-3-1 saw Salah upfront, Firmino behind him and a duo of Mane & Shaqiri either side of the Brazilian. An early counter-attack saw some exquisite football from Liverpool from a throw-in, eventually cleared by Lascelles and Newcastle regain possession. A corner up the other end for Newcastle had Kenedy line-up to take it but the header is always rising and is claimed by Alisson.
Newcastle’s defence seemed to be taking no chances, not hesitating to clear the ball out of the pitch when under any sort of pressure. Robertson unhappy with Alisson staying on his line as opposed to collecting a loose ball results in the Scottish left-back having to clear his lines and hand possession over through a throw-in. The aforementioned giveaway of possession sees Ritchie have all the time in the world to send a cross in to meet Joselu’s head and meet Joselu’s head it does. Headed into the ground, the ball bounced up and over the bar, a poor header and a wasted opportunity.
Debatably a bigger chance for Liverpool came just minutes later, an overhit cross from Trent had Robertson regain the ball from the opposite flank, delivered to Shaqiri’s feet, all it needed was a good connection, but an awkward height meant it dribbled wide.
Corner to Liverpool is steered to the edge of the box for a Robertson first-time cross, poorly cleared by Lascelles to none other than Dejan Lovren who thumps one in from almost the edge of the box on the volley into the top-left corner! Liverpool’s last two goals have come from our defenders, an entertaining stat to say the least. 11 minutes, Liverpool 1-0 Newcastle.
A lovely deft touch from Shaqiri feeds the ball to Mo Salah, in an awkward position, however, Newcastle clear the ball, van Dijk is always alert though, stepping out of his defensive line and meeting the ball before anyone else, Liverpool continue to retain possession. Henderson almost driving an inch-perfect-pass to the feet of Mane, slightly out of the forward reach, it fizzes through to the keeper, the fans appreciate the effort, applauding the skipper for his troubles.
A belated free-kick given to Newcastle sees another headed chance pass, Liverpool counter but a superb save keeps Liverpool in the game. Elsewhere, Leicester have equalled vs Manchester City, Marc Albrighton with the goal to make it 1-1.
Audacious from Xherdan Shaqiri, a volley from a good distance out is always rising, disappointed in his effort, knowing he can hit much better than that. Benitez said pre-game that he had a plan to overturn the hosts and grab a result at Anfield, despite some missed chances, there hasn’t been much of a plan visible from the visitors, their manager, clearly disgruntled by their efforts.
Shaqiri launches a ball over to Robertson’s flank, the left-back meets it with some acrobatics but nobody wanting to take the step offside, it is driven across the area for the keeper to claim with ease. A quiet few minutes followed, neither side really pressing for another goal, Henderson once again asking “what for?” to the referee after Hayden is down following a challenge that was fairly harmless.
Nice football has Alexander-Arnold cut it back across the box, but Mane loses his footing and it once again dribbles along the floor out of everyone’s reach. Anfield appears to be quite the slippy surface out there this afternoon, with frequent losses of footing and overhit passes plaguing this fixture. Sloppy but Jurgen’s men are bossing the possession, but the lead remains slender, Shaqiri is spoken to by Klopp, potentially hoping for a spark to double the lead from the Swiss-man.
Mane wins a free-kick after being tripped by Hayden, Trent & Shaqiri loom over the ball, still undecided on who to take it, Alexander-Arnold is the one to whip it in, cleared and crossed in again, a great header from Mane gives Virgil van Dijk a chance to get his second goal in two games, but Mo Diame is behind the Dutchman and concedes a corner. Nothing happens from the set-piece and Liverpool set about retaining possession and waiting for a decisive pass to open up the defence.
Wijnaldum wins another free-kick, this time in shooting range of both Shaqiri and Trent Alexander-Arnold, no complaints from either side about the decision. Shaqiri looks braced to take it, and take it he does, an unreal effort from Xherdan forces an incredible save over the bar and a corner to Liverpool. The first corner results in a second, neither reaping any rewards for the hosts, one minute added.
Halftime, Liverpool 1-0 Newcastle
A dream start from Liverpool has Paul Dummett give away a penalty on Mo Salah, the first penalty at Anfield for Liverpool in 424 days. Salah won the penalty, Salah takes the penalty, launching it into the bottom left corner, away from Dubravka. Never in doubt, the Egyptian King scores again. 47 minutes, Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle.
Virgil van Dijk’s chant rings out around Anfield, and he is demonstrating all the qualities that earned him that chant. Lovely ball from Shaqiri to Mane, Sadio has Salah and Firmino to find in the box, but Fernandez steps back for a vital interception. Up the other end now, Joselu heads wide again, he’s testing the visitors’ fans patience now.
News of Fabinho coming on is making its way around Anfield, Firmino and Henderson have both gone down, Henderson looking to have come off worse than Bobby, both return to their feet and play continues, no substitution as of yet. Wijnaldum is the one to come off, replaced by Fabinho with Liverpool happy with the lead and look for more stability and ahead to Arsenal at the weekend, where every player will need to be at full fitness to give the Reds the best possible chance.
A goal-mouth scramble leaves Liverpool fans speechless on how they haven’t scored a third, sheer dominance from the hosts. A corner follows another passage of play that should’ve really been a goal, it just won’t go in for a third.
Second substitution, Sturridge replaces Firmino, presumably seeing him go up front, Shaqiri as a #10 with Mane and Salah out wide. Newcastle truly have their backs to the wall here, chance after chance for Liverpool and the final ball is always cleared for another go. Henderson wins a free -kick from Muto, potential for a good ball into the box here but again headed away a common theme.
Newcastle change, a Premier League debut for Longstaff who replaces Kenedy. Another brilliant cross from Ritchie but Hayden fires wide from close range, disappointing finishing from Rafa’s men today.
Tottenham are winning 5-0 against Bournemouth, Liverpool want a goal-fest themselves too, Xherdan Shaqiri buries the ball following a TAA cross, it has most definitely been coming, Henderson was so influential in that goal. The easiest finish of his career that one. 79 minutes, Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle.
A third and final change for Jurgen Klopp has Clyne replace Andy Robertson, who has put in one hell of a shift as usual. Moving over to Leicester, Ricardo Pereira has scored to give the Foxes a 2-1 lead over the defending Premier League champions. Anfield has heard the news and it is rocking, the noise propels Liverpool forward, winning a corner for their hassle. Cross by Salah and it’s Fabinho to meet it, placing it ever so delicately into the bottom right corner, a first Liverpool goal from the Brazilian and his teammates are making sure he knows it, they are all over him! 85 minutes, Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle.
The noise is overwhelming in Anfield, Liverpool are waltzing in a Christmas wonderland, Santa came late, but he made up for the time, it is heaven for the Reds. Dejan Lovren has turned into prime Andrea Pirlo too, launching a delightful ball to Mane who fires over, only just, however, Sadio Mane is incredible.
Liverpool fans have joined the Newcastle ones in chanting Rafa Benitez’s name, a hero of both clubs. Sturridge only just wide from a cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold, almost 5 but earns a corner for his effort. Incredible from Alisson, who runs out of his box to stop a shot, runs back to the edge of his box and equals the strike, Anfield applauding the clean sheet like a goal.
The referee blows for full time and life couldn’t be better right now for Liverpool fans, sitting 6 points atop of the league. Fulltime, Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle.