Fabinho was the only spark in an otherwise dire performance from Liverpool, who were held to a goalless draw by Newcastle United.
Liverpool failed to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table, thanks to an inspired Newcastle United performance that saw the game finish goalless at St. James’ Park on Wednesday.
The Reds did not have the best of starts as they had against West Bromwich Albion. However, they did grow into the game around the half-hour mark, creating quite a lot of chances. Liverpool also managed to maintain that momentum and sustain the pressure on their opposition, who were more than willing to defend in deep blocks.
Jurgen Klopp will be hugely disappointed by his team’s wasteful performance in front of goal as the strikers missed a lot of chances to find the elusive opener. In addition, Newcastle United deserve a lot of praise for their brave and courageous defending. They made numerous blocks and tackles in their own defensive third and also had their goalkeeper Karl Darlow being on top of his game.
Luck also favoured the Magpies, who managed to get rid of most of the rebounds or loose balls in the defensive third as Liverpool slumped to their second consecutive draw in the Premier League. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the defending champions’ performance at St. James’ Park this midweek.
Alisson was almost called into action early on when Callum Wilson created an excellent chance for himself. His shot, however, was blocked by Fabinho. That was the last real attacking scare Newcastle United provided until the 79th minute, when the Liverpool goalkeeper was forced to make an outstanding save to deny Matt Ritchie’s header. A much deserved clean sheet.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6.5/10
Trent Alexander-Arnold looked in his usual flow against Newcastle. The youngster looked like a menace with his forays down the flanks, with the defender particularly troubling the opposing backline with his dangerous crosses into the box. To his misfortune, none of the Liverpool attackers were up to speed, though the Englishman was a bit off in his final deliveries.
Liverpool failed to win just 1 of their opening 16 Premier League games last season.
They’ve failed to win 7 of their opening 16 games this season.
Work to do in the new year. 🔴 pic.twitter.com/i2Yv18xp0r
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 30, 2020
Nat Phillips: 6/10
With defensive stalwarts like Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez out, Nat Phillips was always going to be the weakest link in the Liverpool backline; so it came as no surprise when Wilson beat him to craft an early chance. The youngster, to his credit, bounced back well, although he was not troubled much by the Newcastle attackers after that little period.
Fabinho was one of few players who looked in good touch against Newcastle. The Brazilian was simply outstanding in the defensive phases, as he got rid of multiple loose balls. His ability to read the game also proved to be handy as he sabotaged many of Newcastle’s potential counter-attacks. A flawless performance from the experienced centre-back.
Andrew Robertson: 6.5/10
Andrew Robertson was a relentless source of problems for the Magpies in this game. The Scot offered unending service from the left flank, whipping in a number of excellent crosses into the box. But much like Alexander-Arnold on the opposite flank, his efforts were not reciprocated at all by his attacking teammates, though both of them were below par in general.
James Milner: 6.5/10
Milner looked in good touch after making his return. Although the veteran midfielder was a surprise inclusion into the team, he did a good job of mopping up loose balls and winning possession back in midfield. Unfortunately, his presence in the starting lineup meant that there was a lack of creative presence for Liverpool in midfield and it turned out to be quite costly at the end.
Jordan Henderson: 7/10
Another player who was not disappointing, Jordan Henderson commanded the midfield with his imposing presence in the number six role. He distributed possession, brought others into the game and also created a few opportunities with some well-timed forward passes. Just what one could possibly expect from a quality holding midfielder.
Curtis Jones: 6/10
Curtis Jones’s ability to drift in and around the final third was turning out to be quite handy for Liverpool in the first half. However, the youngster looked a bit off after the break, especially when the hosts started to push forward a bit more. As a result, Jones was subbed off in the 68th minute by Klopp.
Mohamed Salah: 5/10
Mohamed Salah’s relatively inconsistent season continues with yet another dismal performance in front of goal. Although one can forgive him for appearing wasteful, especially after scoring 13 league goals, the forward simply failed to create any chance by himself. It was largely a result of the Newcastle defenders isolating him into a tight space, giving him very little room to operate.
We won’t hear about this Salah miss because his name isn’t Timo Werner pic.twitter.com/2kLZeb9E1Y
— 🐐 (@BillyGilmourSZN) December 30, 2020
Roberto Firmino: 6/10
Roberto Firmino was a lively figure in the Liverpool attack. He linked up well with his teammates and even created a few chances. But, when it came to scoring goals, the Brazilian was borderline dreadful. In fact, he found two great opportunities to score the opener but failed to take them, with his shots saved by Darlow.
Sadio Mane: 5/10
Sadio Mane endured a rather poor game against Newcastle United. The Senegalese international was also unfortunate as none of the clear opportunities fell to him, but he was still largely ineffective, thanks to some diligent defending from the opposition.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Georginio Wijnaldum was brought on around the 70th minute mark as Klopp opted for more energy in midfield. The Dutchman offered himself as an additional passing option in the final third but it was not enough to unsettle the opposition.
Thiago Alcantara: 6/10
In what was a disappointing result all around, Thiago Alcantara’s return to action was one of the few bright things for Liverpool fans in this game. Although the ex-Bayern Munich star did not greatly impact the game, his return should be crucial in the coming matches.
Xherdan Shaqiri: N/A
A late replacement for Salah. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.