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Football News: Newcastle United v Liverpool Match Review - A Liverpool Perspective

Newcastle United v Liverpool Match Review - A Liverpool Perspective
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Newcastle United v Liverpool


On the face of things this was the same old story, not clinical enough and individual errors gifting the opposition a goal, but this was more than that. A whole bunch of players getting to grips with changes in the way the team was playing and failing to do so contributed massively to a poor performance from Liverpool. Massive credit has to go out to Rafael Benitez for setting up his team so well, with lightning fast fullbacks to shut out the threat from the wings and a team that kept its defensive shape and compactness at all times.

However there was more to this than the same old story on its own, there were also a few things to point out that contributed to the poor performance. Mainly it was the change from Firmino to Sturridge that showed the problems with this obsession people have of Liverpool desperately needing a goal poacher. Yesterday showed how a goal poacher just shut down space in the attacking third, as the centre backs were able to sit deeper close to him and not get dragged forward to watch Firmino when he drops off.

That had two main consequences, it left their midfield intact, as they weren't having to keep half on eye on Firmino's movement in behind them and the defence could hold its shape. That decreased the creativity in the centre to the simple expedient of giving it to Coutinho and hoping he could weave some magic, while the other two midfielders just tried to get out of his way. All the space was on the flanks, for the fullbacks, but they were crossing in to very little as Coutinho never breaks into the box and the other two were both holding deeper. One of them needs to break forward and look to get on the end of crosses when the ball goes wide.


The difference is that Rafa wanted to avoid defeat and had no other ambition in the match, while Klopp wanted to win, that has left an away draw feeling like a worse result than it actually is. It is not a good result, very disappointing, but a poor performance ending in a draw away from home is not the worst thing. Though it does leave a lot of questions to be answered with a two week international break to come.

There was a lot more to it, a surprising lack of urgency, with the centre backs and midfield choosing to pass the ball aimlessly between them for minutes at a time contributed a great deal to a poor result. The usual missed chances and probable penalties, with Ciaran Clark doing a great impression of Martin Skrtel's defending as he manhandled Lovren. It was an all-round bad day at the office.

One important thing I must say, well done Rafa for inviting Margaret Aspinall to be your guest of honour for the day. Even now he does more than his fair share for the Hillsborough families and he is one man that it is difficult to begrudge any loss of points to.


Klopp - clearly the players were not following the instructions he sent them out with, as he was getting increasingly agitated on the sidelines throughout the match. They look to be struggling with all the changes and tweaks he is making to the line up and tactics. While Guardiola has been able to sign players that can understand all the different instructions, Klopp has obviously not got the same with his squad of players. They constantly seem to have no idea what they should be doing at any one moment in the game.


Mignolet - I would have said he was decent, but the goal was so soft that I feel he should have stopped it. He is supposed to be a shotstopper, at least so I keep getting told, but a shotstopper makes reaction saves, while Mignolet showed all the reaction speed of a stuffed rabbit. He did not need to even dive or move his feet, simply put out a hand and knock it wide, but he just watched it. At first I thought he had just misjudged it, but, on watching replays, it just looks like he never reacted at all.

If it had been his first mistake like that, fine, it was just an error, but this is the same almost every time he has any kind of save to make. His reaction time is appalling.


Gomez - decent enough game, though I would like to see him over on the cover, as a genuine full back, instead of a modern day wing back, on the goal. Either of Moreno or him could have easily caught Joselu, who has the pace and grace on the ball of a man with his ankles chained together with a ball and chain.


Matip - ok, he got back to make the challenge, but really? Did he really not see Joselu in all that space? Even if you can find some excuse for his inability to do his job and spot danger from the striker, why did he, as he was ballwatching anyway, not notice that the ball was at the feet of a midfielder with a good range of passing and no one pressing him? How many times do I have to make the point about the basic of no pressure on the ball, defence should drop off?


Lovren - I just do not know what to say. Where on earth was he on the goal? If Matip can catch Joselu, then he should at least be nearing him on the other side or attempting to get back. Something. Anything. Not Lovren though, he is far too busy watching the ball, yet again. If his back is that bad he is unable to break into a sprint, then he should not be in the team.


Moreno - for some reason he seems to be the scapegoat, alongside the usual target Henderson, though I am not sure why. He was getting forward too early and too far for my liking, he was also blocking the space out wide, but that is the way he is told to play, so why blame him? He provided width and delivered some decent enough balls into the box at times, the issues were elsewhere.


Henderson - not a good game. Kept dropping in alongside the centre backs to receive the ball in that pointless way modern central midfielders do. Worse was when he got involved in the even more pointless shuffling the ball around aimlessly at the back. Not sure what the thinking is there at all, to be perfectly honest. I mean what is the point in him dropping into the left back area constantly? Is that because he had watched Delph do it for Pep against Chelsea? Only it did nothing to help Man City there either, all it did was mean they had a body in the left back area because their only left back is injured. Well Pep has only spent half a billion pounds, bit much to expect him to sort out a full squad on a pittance like that!


Wijnaldum - anonymous. Utterly anonymous. Even the Newcastle fans forgot he was on the pitch and stopped booing him.


Coutinho - great goal, other than that, he is not really doing anything at the moment, other than looking to get into a place to have a shot. He did not look anywhere near his best, but that moment of magic will have people forgetting how little he offered the rest of the match! To be fair to him, there was no space or movement for him to pass the ball to, in large part due to the way Newcastle had set out.


Salah - with so little space to operate in, he struggles to get involved. I did think it was odd to swap him to the other flank though, as he linked up with Gomez and was at least troubling Manquillo on that flank, shifting him over to play against a sprinter in Yedlin just put him out of the game completely.


Sturridge - had an awful game. More static than a Haven holiday camp. Looks rusty and slow, but he is never going to change that when he is in and out of the team so much. Also he offers nothing in terms of link up play, so he could not even help to bring others into play like Firmino does.


Mane - really struggled. The one time he did get in he dallied and Yedlin was able to chase back. Looked really out of sorts to be honest. I am not sure what was up with him, but he did not look anywhere near 100%.



Firmino - as usual Klopp left the substitutions too late to really effect things, with Firmino coming on in the 74th minute in place of Sturridge. The changes made to the formation were not understand by the players, who could not get a grip on it. Which meant a lot of individuals playing like individuals in the closing minutes, which does not suit Firmino as he is a team player.

Solanke - was brought on at the same time as Firmino, instead of the ineffectual Mane and offered much more than the Senegal winger had, simply by showing more urgency to his game. Chased around, got involved but was just not given the time to really do anything.

Oxlade-Chamberlain - replaced Salah in the 84th minute and barely even saw the ball, as it was busy trickling between the triumvirate of Matip, Lovren and Henderson. I am not sure what he is expected to do with so little time.

Written by Tris Burke October 02 2017 14:32:09