Liverpool opened up a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table, as they cruised to a 4-0 win over Newcastle United at Anfield on Wednesday.
Liverpool held the upper hand in the early exchanges, but could have fallen behind, had Joselu done better with his headed effort from Matt Ritchie’s cross. The Reds though, punished Newcastle not soon after, as Dejan Lovren opened the scoring with a thumping half volley, after Jamaal Lascelles weakly cleared Andrew Robertson’s cross.
The hosts continued to dominate the proceedings, but failed to create anything substantial until the 48th minute, when Mohamed Salah converted from the spot after he was pulled by the arm by Paul Dummett. The chances kept on coming, but it was another half-an-hour before Liverpool added to their tally.
This time, Xherdan Shaqiri found the back of the net, turning in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross. The win was then rounded off with five minutes left in regulation time, with Fabinho opening his account for Liverpool, scoring from Salah’s corner.
Morning, Reds! 😃🔴🙌 pic.twitter.com/l1lnG7oUPC
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 27, 2018
With Manchester City losing their second successive game in a row, Liverpool are now six points clear at the top of the table, with Tottenham Hotspur moving into the second spot. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men, following their comfortable 4-0 win.
Alisson Becker: 7/10
A largely quiet evening for the Liverpool no. 1. Alisson barely had anything to do, collecting just one cross apart from distributing the ball until the dying embers of the game, when he was finally called into action. Leaping out of the box on a Newcastle counter-attack, the Brazilian pegged back before making a fine reflex save from Sean Longstaff to preserve his clean sheet – his 12th in the league this season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
Back into the side after a short injury layoff, Alexander-Arnold did not appear to have missed a step. A dangerous outlet on his forward forays, the youngster’s deliveries from corners also threatened a lot. Defensively, he wasn’t trusted much before he capped off a memorable evening with a superb assist for Shaqiri’s goal.
Dejan Lovren: 9/10
The last three Premier League games Dejan Lovren has scored in:
17/12/17: Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool
13/05/18: Liverpool 4-0 Brighton
26/12/18: Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle
Only one thing was going to happen. 😏 pic.twitter.com/wgljFRRPU1
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 26, 2018
Lovren may have been fortunate that he became a regular starter recently. But, his performances might have helped the Croat nail down his spot for when Joe Gomez and Joel Matip return as well. On Wednesday though, he contributed on the other end as well, scoring from a blasting half volley that any striker would be proud of.
He then produced a colossal showing at the back, winning the most aerial duels of any Liverpool player (6 won out of 9), while also making 3 clearances. Lovren created a brilliant chance for Sadio Mane as well, in what turned out to be his best showing of the season.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
Another game, another solid performance from Liverpool’s record transfer. As always, Virgil van Dijk was dominant in the air, bar one or two instances, while also organising the backline with aplomb. A constant threat during set-piece situations, he was often marked by two players so as to be negated.
Andrew Robertson: 8/10
Liverpool’s silent workhorse was at it for the umpteenth time on Wednesday, roaming up and down the pitch with such efficiency, that DeAndre Yedlin was never a factor on either end. In fact, Robertson was never threatened at the back, and it was his first-time cross that eventually led to Lovren’s goal.
Jordan Henderson: 9/10
Henderson is usually one of the first players copping the flak whenever he has featured in a poor Liverpool result, without getting his due on most occasions when the Reds win. As far as Wednesday’s game is concerned, the Liverpool captain a major reason why they did win and dominated throughout.
Pulling the strings in the middle of the park, Henderson asserted his authority with enterprising forward play, creating a couple of chances. And, it was his first-time pass that eventually led to Shaqiri’s goal. A colossal showing from the skipper, proving his worth in Jurgen Klopp’s time.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7/10
Deployed in a deeper role yet again, Wijnaldum reveled in the defensive side of the game, keeping things tight of a backline that was barely tested. On the ball though, the Dutchman wasn’t quite at his best, giving the ball away a few times. Taken off just after the hour mark, possibly with the weekend’s game against Arsenal in mind.
Xherdan Shaqiri: 7/10
A mixed bag of an evening for Shaqiri, who had both positives and negatives to show for his effort. While he did start strongly, the Swiss petered out considerably for quite some time before finding his feet again later on. When he did, the player was continuously involved in most moves before grabbing a goal for himself, his fifth in his last five outings at Anfield.
Roberto Firmino: 6.5/10
Starting another game in the new role in the hole, Firmino seemed to be taking to it quite well for the most part. But, the Brazilian was also wasteful at times, losing a few balls unnecessarily. Typically though, he was hard at work off the ball while also creating one superb chance for Mane.
Sadio Mane: 6/10
For Mane, the 2018-19 season has been characterised by showings of emphatic dominance, riddled by a few inexplicably profligate outings. Wednesday’s game against Newcastle was more of the latter, with the Senegalese being bestowed with a number of clear-cut opportunities, only to fluff his lines. Still, some positives, in that his movements lead to some big chances.
Mohamed Salah: 8/10
Mo Salah’s last 6 games for Liverpool in all competitions…
⚽️ 6 Goals
🅰️ 3 Assists
On fire. pic.twitter.com/M4sDDWmBy5
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) December 26, 2018
Salah has been on a fine run lately, reminiscent of his showings last season. And, after a slow start to the game, the Egyptian settled into his rhythm, when he tormented the Newcastle defence to no end. One such instance saw him win the penalty, which he made no error in converting.
With six goals and three assists in his last six outings, Salah is well and truly back to his best, even if there are a few moments of struggles.
Taking over the holding midfield role from Wijnaldum, Fabinho ensured Liverpool continued dominating the game. But, the moment of the match, for him, was when he completed the win with a headed effort, in what was his first Liverpool goal.
Daniel Sturridge: 6/10
On for Firmino, Sturridge took over from Salah as the focal point of the Liverpool attack. While he was bright and sprightly, the Englishman could only muster up one effort on goal, as the Reds started playing well within themselves.
Nathaniel Clyne: N/A
On for ten minutes or so, Clyne helped see the game out, and provide Robertson some well needed rest.