Liverpool played host to Newcastle United at Anfield on Saturday in what was a very important match for their top-four hopes, as well as for Newcastle’s struggle to avoid relegation. In the end, the visitors had every reason to be happy with the result, unlike the Merseysiders.
Extraordinary lack of resilience at Liverpool
It would have perhaps been understandable if this was a one-off, but it was far from being a new experience for the Reds this season. On the other hand, it’s extremely out of character for them since the German tactician shaped his team, especially in light of the previous campaign when they showed superb levels of grit to win game after game on their way to the 19th Premier League title.
In 17 of the first 28 Premier League seasons, Liverpool had no more than one league match in which they led 1-0 at half time and ended up drawing 1-1.
It has now happened twice in six days.
And also against WBA, to start this largely wretched run of form.
— Andrew Beasley 💙 (@BassTunedToRed) April 24, 2021
On Monday, the same thing happened as Liverpool let a one-goal lead slip away late against Leeds United at Elland Road. They obviously should have learned from it, but they haven’t.
“Either we learn or we don’t play in the Champions League,” Klopp said after the match.
Having had most of the ball throughout the match, Liverpool allowed Newcastle to hit them hard in the dying moments of the game, and Joe Willock to become the hero for the Magpies with practically the last kick before the final whistle. The strike from Callum Wilson a minute before, questionably ruled out for handball, was not a strong-enough warning that they should’ve kept control of possession and defend the lead on the front foot.
Salah’s opener in the third minute, his 20th league goal of the season, was superb, which probably makes the final result even more painful for the Reds.
Goalkeepers rise to occasion
The two teams weren’t similar in too many aspects, but if there is one thing both can be happy with, it’s the performances from their respective goalkeepers.
As has been said, Liverpool dominated the match throughout and Martin Dubravka in the Newcastle goal was frequently tested, and even though he could do nothing to prevent Salah’s goal, he thwarted the Egyptian from adding a second as he broke free of the defenders later in the first half, and stopped some awkward attempts from Jota, Firmino and Mane as well.
Newcastle had chances of their own. Allan Saint-Maximin looked very lively, giving Liverpool’s defence reasons to worry all the time. But their best chances, apart from the goal(s), fell to Sean Longstaff and Joelinton. Both players were expertly denied by Alisson Becker; Joelinton twice. The Brazil international had some questionable performances and made some glaring mistakes this season, but this time he justified his high reputation as one of the best goalkeepers of the modern game.
Hardly a game goes by in the Premier League without the officiating being questioned by the wider public, or even managers and players themselves. Liverpool have had several goals disallowed this term which probably should have stood, but this time a mistake seems to have been made in their favour.
Callum Wilson, who had come off the bench to replace Joelinton, scored what would have been an equalizer in the 92nd minute, only to see it ruled out because the ball had touched his arm. Looking at it from any angle, it was quite obvious that the striker had no way of avoiding the contact.
However, justice was served on this occasion as Joe Willock, also a substitute, grabbed a goal with the four minutes of stoppage time, extended further no doubt due to the disturbance Wilson’s disallowed strike had caused, already gone.
All in all, Newcastle are now one step closer to securing survival, but Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, resurrected only recently, are now flickering again. It’s not over yet, but Chelsea have triumphed over West Ham later on Saturday and they are now in pole position to make that fourth place theirs.
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