ANOTHER day, another game and another 90 minutes where you couldn’t relax for a second.
Coming a day after Tottenham comfortably won 4-0, and Manchester United comfortably won 4-0, Manchester City won away at Chelsea, and on the same day that Arsenal gained an easy win, it was all the more frustrating that yet again Liverpool made winning three points seem like the hardest thing in the universe.
At least we always have Everton, eh?
There were yet more countless examples of bad luck that will continue to erode away at the team’s confidence until something turns it, but there were also several moments where The Reds didn’t help themselves. A lacklustre second half was the last thing irked away fans needed to see.
Here’s some arbitrary numbers next to players’ names:
Simon Mignolet: 6
Made some good if simple early saves, but most importantly, held onto them. Came and claimed plenty as well, although that was largely down to poor deliveries from Matt Ritchie, who may have got the least deserved MOTM award that I’ve ever seen. Given the high line for their goal, you do wonder if having such a non-sweeper keeper like Mignolet can be an issue at times, though you couldn’t really blame him for the deflected ball getting past him.
Joe Gomez: 6
Really hard one to grade this. Joe did a lot of things wrong, both in attack and defence, but at the same time he was always there. Always in position to put a tackle in, or a header and constantly available down the right when we were going forward. Unfortunately his crossing still leaves a lot to be desired and his tackling isn’t always as solid as it should be, but won a lot of vital challenges as well and did enough not to get a terrible mark.
Joel Matip: 7
It will be interesting to see people’s reactions to Matip today. Personally I’m not holding him at all accountable for the goal. He and Dejan Lovren play a high line, that’s their job, and they stepped up enough for Joselu to be offside. Unfortunately, the assistant referee misses the entire right leg of the former Stoke striker that was well beyond the line and doesn’t raise his flag. Matip then manages to get back and put in a tackle, but gets the most unfortunate of deflections. Just bad luck all round. Other than that I thought he did his bits very well. Lots of interceptions, headers won and even some good runs forward that penetrated more than most attackers were able to.
Dejan Lovren: 5
Bizarrely didn’t have all that much to do. Everything seemed to go down Matip’s side. Did get some headers in but never seems all that concerned about directing them. So often they end up going straight to an oncoming opposition midfielder. Did his usual pass into touch in the second half, and loses a mark for a ridiculous challenge to give them a dangerous freekick in stoppage time. Unlucky not to get a penalty first half when Ciaran Clark was trying to make love to the inside of his shirt.
Alberto Moreno: 6
Was petrified that Albie was going to have a stinker after his “F*ck the lot of yous!” comments to his detractors. Did good things and bad things, so overall evened out at a decent game. As ever was a good outlet down the left, but final ball often wasn’t there. Did actually win quite a lot of tackles and headers, albeit inevitably there was one daft one where he kicked Ayoze Perez over without needing to. Was hoping there’d be a clash between him and Mikel Merino to test whether the commentators were capable of pronouncing the Newcastle midfielder’s name properly for once (they’ve been calling him “Moreno” all season and it’s been winding me up).
Jordan Henderson: 6
Started the game really well. You hoped he’d be well up for this one given his Sunderland ties, but for all the good he did early on, seemed to fade as the game went on. Still played at a high tempo but stopped winning as many tackles and ended up leaving space in behind unnecessarily. Too tentative in his forward play as well, only once tried to play an adventurous ball into the attackers and completely skewed it in the air.
Gini Wijnaldum: 5
Similar to Hendo in that he started quite well but faded badly. I’d convinced myself that if Gini was ever going to score an away goal it would be at Newcastle, the only other ground where he realises there is a goal to pop the ball into. The main comment I had on him in the first half was that for once, he wasn’t being anonymous in an away game. He then spent the entire second half being anonymous in an away game.
Philippe Coutinho: 8
What a lad he can be. That goal is not just sensational in the hit, but the buildup. He comes deep for the ball, pings a great long pass to Moreno, then races about 60 yards to get it back, before shifting it and smashing it in the near post. A real “For God’s sake, give it here, I’ll do it” moment. Unfortunately didn’t get many more chances to shine in the final third as the movement from the attack was poor and Newcastle put something like 42 men behind the ball. Did really enjoy his general midfield performance though, always showing for it, not just sticking to one position and trying to dictate as much as he could.
Mohamed Salah: 6
Got in a few times early on, but overran the ball more than once. Played a lovely ball in to Sadio Mane that deserved better, but from then on his impact was minimal. Hoped he’d be able to do more against the fairly dreadful Javi Manquillo but the few times he did get into space his touch sent the ball into the packed Newcastle defence. Missed yet another open goal, which is a habit that’s getting quite annoying if I’m honest, as great as it is that he’s scored plenty of others. He’ll have better days, as will…
Sadio Mane: 5
Trying to recall but I’m pretty certain that’s the worst I’ve seen him play in a Liverpool shirt. Would normally put it down to slight rustiness after missing three games, but then he played on Tuesday in Moscow. I don’t know what he bought in Asda but whatever it was appears to have made him lose his first touch. The ball kept bouncing off him like his foot was made of bricks. Interesting that Klopp switched him to the right in the second half but if anything he was even more anonymous.
Daniel Sturridge: 5
Was super excited to see him start, so it was with great sadness that I saw him have such a poor game. To be fair it did look like the rest of the team weren’t entirely sure how to use him, as if they had only ever played with Roberto Firmino and instead they were now playing with his arch nemesis. Showed some nice touches and was unfortunate with the effort first half that hit Jamaal Lascelles on the arm (in that it could have gone in, not that it was a penalty), but the miss second half when Clark let the ball slip under his foot was criminal. If Firmino misses that we’re all demanding Sturridge start the next game. He’s obviously better than that but could really have done with him being the world-class finisher he is and that we badly missed today.
Dominic Solanke: 7
Really good cameo I thought. Showed loads for the ball, won it plenty, kept it well and was unlucky with the header from Coutinho’s cross that could have nicked in the near post. Would like to see more of him and earlier in games as well.
Roberto Firmino: 5
Seemed to be playing just off Solanke when he came on, and struggled to see much of the ball as the areas he was supposed to be in was filled with Newcastle players.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: N/A
Only on for a handful of minutes, but still misses a golden chance to win it. Credit to him in that he does well to get to the box, and I have a lot of love for anyone who tries to score with a diving header (when was the last time you saw someone do that?) but there’s no getting away from the fact that he really should have scored.
Another two points dropped and, after other results this weekend, the title seems as far away as ever. Time to dust ourselves down during this international break, come back in two weeks and smash Manchester United at Anfield. What a lovely way that would be to get back on track.
Oh, and if you could do with cheering up over the next fortnight, then I’ve written a book about Jürgen Klopp’s first two seasons at Liverpool. It has obvious ups and downs but will hopefully serve as a reminder of how far we have actually come since October 2015.
Kloppite: One Man’s Quest to turn Doubters into Believers is out tomorrow.
Chin up, Reds, there’s better days on the horizon. And wasn’t it nice seeing Rafa again?