Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle: Rafa’s return to Anfield ends in defeat despite us making it difficult

The game plan was clear and it looked like it may just pay off for the most part of the first half, but Liverpool found a way break us down, with two of their front three finding the net in a comfortable 2-0 win at Anfield.
 
Before I discuss the game in a bit more depth, here’s a few quick thoughts:
 
  • Merino looked off the pace and needs to pick it up and sharpish if Shelvey’s set for a spell on the sidelines
  • Dummett proved once again what a reliable defender he is – Lejeune and Lascelles look solid together too.
  • Kenedy was frustrating – tried skill in some bad areas and was far sloppier than he’s tended to be. A reminder tonight that he’s still a raw talent. 
  • Atsu and Murphy need to offer more on the break if we’re going to actually cause problems as a ‘counter attacking’ team. 
  • Aside from one missed cross, Dubravka looked pretty assured and sharp off his line again once again.
  • Don’t rage at Rafa for out defensive set up. We’ve got a very good goal difference thanks to this approach – we might’ve scored if we went ‘toe to toe’ but we’d have conceded 3 or 4 no doubt. This could be key in the long run.
 From a defensive perspective we had Liverpool frustrated and passing sideways for 99% of the first half, however a fortunate break of the ball and a piece of slack positioning was all it took for Salah to get in behind and prod home his 24th goal in the league. A real blow to our game plan that was almost working to a tee up until that point – especially when Paul Dummett had contained him so well up to that point.
 
That being said, Mo Diame very nearly drew us level in the last moment of the first half, with his top corner-bound effort being saved superbly by Karius. Looking back, that could’ve been a huge game changer. If that’d have gone in we could’ve returned to our hand plan in the second half, but instead it felt like we didn’t know whether to stick or twist in the second.
 
At 1-0 down it goes without saying that you must have a go if you want to get back into it, but in doing that there’s the risk that you get put to bed at the other end as a result. 
We clearly tried to stay in the game in a bid to have a go late on if the score line stayed at 1 (like City at home in December), but Mane scuppered any hopes of that by making it two. It was a well worked goal, but it was equally frustrating to see Kenedy gift them possession in the moments beforehand.
A defeat is a defeat, but 2-0 isn’t damaging – and there’s always a fear that these games could be when you’re playing one of the best attacking trios in world football.
 
One thing that we did get away with was Jamaal Lascelles’ late push on Salah. It was outside the box, but he was the last man and it could and should have been a sending off that would’ve seen the skipper miss the crucial game against Southampton next Saturday.
 
It’s a difficult one when looking back at the game itself on the whole. We never looked likely to score and didn’t really mount any sort on onslaught on the Liverpool goal, however this cautious approach against top sides has contributed to our respectable goal difference – something that will affectively give us an extra point over our rivals at the end of the season.
 
Yes there’ll be those saying we should’ve had more of a go, with us proving we can beat Man Utd when we did so a few weeks ago, but Liverpool away is a different proposition given their home form and firing front three. 
 
One thing we must do, regardless of the opposition is show more quality in the final third, however. We didn’t have too many opportunities to hurt Liverpool today, but we quite often flattered to deceive, made the wrong decision or struggled with the quality of our final ball.
 
It wasn’t an easy watch, but this isn’t a game that will define whether we beat the drop or not. It’s upcoming home games against Southampton and Huddersfield that will be key.
 
Those are the games where attacking intent and a positive approach will be essential. Onto Southampton we go – HUGE game.
(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Born in Gateshead, Olly was a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

122 thoughts on “Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle: Rafa’s return to Anfield ends in defeat despite us making it difficult

  1. i think Palace could beat M/U tonight.teams in the bottom half tend to lift their game against the top teams.ime hoping they get thumped like about time Jose pumped them up

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  2. icedog:
    i think Palace could beat M/U tonight.teams in the bottom half tend to lift their game against the top teams.ime hoping they get thumped like about time Jose pumped them up

    Well they have a lot of injuries so I hope not ice., Will be pretty pissed off with Manure if they can’t beat a injury ravaged Palace, but it would just be our luck.

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  3. if we can win our home games we are home and dry a big IF,as with no goal scorers i worry plus i dont think our new c/f will ever play for us he wont want miss his world cup spot with another injury imo

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  4. What do you think of Townsends new hair? Better than Rooney. Wonder if that preening ponce Clattenberg went to the same place. He has been around footballers for so long I think he thinks he is one of them. He’s got the tattoos as well and probably the flash car since he took the Arab gold and retired.

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  5. Palace have tough games coming up as I said on an earlier post.

    Chelsea away – you have to see a reaction from Chelsea after the Man City game. No more Hazard as a false 9 and some attacking intent. They still have a good squad. Morata and Hazard worth more than our entire team.

    Huddersfield away will be tough but they could snatch a draw and might have some players back.

    Liverpool home. Loss.

    Bournemouth away is like a Derby for them so anything can happen.

    I just can’t see them getting more than 3 points and maybe only 2. They then have it a lot easier but will they be deflated by then? I expect them to look like they are down but then pull off a bit of a recovery that will end in heroic failure.

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  6. Man u very poor tonight and surprised they came back to win , but so pleased they did .
    Still a sad position for us to be in when we need the teams below us to lose as many games as possible.

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  7. Brighton have collected 11 points from their last 5 games 3 wins and 2 draws, we need a run like that.

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  8. If Palace do only get a couple of points from the next 4 games they would have 29 with 5 to play (hopefully a draw against Huddersfield coz that helps our cause). You are then looking at 3 wins from 5 to get to 38. Possible because of their fixtures but unlikely.

    I know I should be looking at our games but I want Palace to go down mainly because of their fans gloating over Pardew but also because I don’t think I could take the pundits’ wank fest if Mr Roy keeps them up. It will be like the Brazil WC and France Euros never happened. People forget we were crap in the easiest group even before the Iceland game and you just know the likes of Redknapp and Merse are just waiting to get their plonkers out. Urrrgghh, I wish that thought had not crept into my head.

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  9. Don’t like the fact that other teams will play while we kick our feet for 21 days
    teams will go above us and psychologically it could effect the team as although you have a game in hand it puts added pressure on.

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  10. kimtoon:
    Don’t like Southampton, bit of a bogey team so really want us to win that one.

    Doesn’t selling your best players have to catch up with them eventually? MIght be like Sunderland and survive a few years but their transfer policy is that of a relegation club, although you could say they couldn’t really do anything about it. But removing their best defender in January is not a good omen.

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  11. kimtoon:
    Don’t like the fact that other teams will play while we kick our feet for 21 days
    teams will go above us and psychologically it could effect the team as although you have a game in hand it puts added pressure on.

    The thing with relegation scraps is that there are always teams that go on good runs like Brighton have. There are also teams that go on death spirals like WBA and Palace though. As long as we pick up a point a game we should be safe. That’s probably what we will do because Rafa is pragmatic enough to do that but we might do it with only a couple of wins and 3 draws so it will be very nervous.

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  12. Eric Sykes: Doesn’t selling your best players have to catch up with them eventually? MIght be like Sunderland and survive a few years but their transfer policy is that of a relegation club, although you could say they couldn’t really do anything about it. But removing their best defender in January is not a good omen.

    Caught up with us in the end.

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  13. kimtoon:
    Arma scored a nice goal for Blackburn yesterday, anyone watch the game ?

    I watched it mate yes good goal but you don’t get that room in PL plus a better keeper would have saved that imo

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  14. Honestly, I am not bitching here I am just making an observation. There will be a moment of silence across Europe after the death of David Aspina. I am not making any judgement on that but I watch a lot of La Liga and there seems to be a moment of silence before just about every game now. Last week it was for the Police Officer who died in the Basque country. Again, I make no judgement but have noticed how often this happens now – in England too.

    From what I remember these tributes were very infrequent in days gone by and were reserved for the death of a head of state or club legend. Maybe I am wrong and it is because there are a lot more televised games now, it just seems different to “back in the day”.

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  15. It doesn’t bother me, in La Liga it is not even a minutes silence it is like 20 seconds, it is just something I have noticed. I am watching the games and the players all gather around the center circle and I wonder “who is this one for”? I think it will get to the point where there will be a stink if someone passes away and they are NOT honoured.

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  16. Davide Astori, sorry I got his name wrong. Very sad but I am not sure why they cancelled all Serie A games. Maybe it is inappropriate of me to even ask, but has this ever happened before? I can understand cancelling his team’s game. Absolutely pay him respect, I just don’t know where you draw the line as there are others who have, and will, die in tragic circumstances such as car crashes. Should we have called off PL games when legends such as Bobby Robson or Bill Shankley died or is it the death of a young man in his prime that is more important? I don’t know, I just wonder who picks and chooses what to do in these circumstances.

    Again, sorry if this sounds cold. It is just something I have wondered for a while about tributes at football matches.

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  17. Supposedly Astori was a really nice guy, but should than even matter? He had 14 caps for Italy. Suppose Dennis Wise who had a pretty good career and had 21 caps for England had died in similar circumstances, would it have been appropriate to cancel the PL games that day? Or, would the fact that he is a bit of a [email protected] come into it?

    I am not meaning to rile anybody up and again I know I may come across as cold.

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  18. It was probably the fact that he was still young and playing Eric. The Italians like to emotionally wallow anyway.

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  19. Very emotional people the Italians. I remember being in a taxi in Rome and the driver was going mad every five minutes at other drivers. It’s a good job they have a healthy Mediterranean diet of veg and olive oil or they’d be having heart attacks at 30

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  20. Stuart79:
    Very emotional people the Italians. I remember being in a taxi in Rome and the driver was going mad every five minutes at other drivers. It’s a good job they have a healthy Mediterranean diet of veg and olive oil or they’d be having heart attacks at 30

    owr much pasta is their downfall mate

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  21. Merino lacks match fitness and was knackered after 70 minutes against Liverpool. The obvious answer against S’ton would be to play him as our creative spark and then replace him. But who with? Diame has proven he is better as the defensive mid. Shelvey is probably injured and Hayden is another defensive mid. Who else do we have? Mbemba could do it but would be another defensive mid and Saivet and Colback are on loan.

    I think the loan policy is really shortsighted. It is obviously partially intended to get salary off the books but left us with little cover. We get Slimani who is injured but why not keep Mitro as insurance. Merino was just coming back and Shelvey already has 2 red cards. That’s the sum total of creative central midfielders.

    I know they want to balance the books but at the expense of decent cover? I am sure it was a directive from up high and Rafa doesn’t like Mitro in his system but I still think it was a gamble. I mean, Rafa had played Saivet a couple of weeks before he was loaned out.

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  22. Ideally, Merino starts and we are 2 up after 70 minutes and we can replace him with a defensive mid to hold on to our lead. Oh sh!t, wasn’t that the plan at Bournemouth 🙂

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  23. Play Merino at number 10 and Diame dmf where he’s best. Merino needs to get match fit again, he seems an intelligent player and I still think he’ll be a good buy.

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  24. I see the Mackems lost again last night, 0-3 to Villa… teams around them also lost so still a small chance of survival but I think they are gone… North East Football is in a bad way. ☹️

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