Liverpool win eighth straight game over rudderless Newcastle


Liverpool extended their lead in the league and their winning run to eight EPL matches after easily beating Newcastle 4-0 at Anfield. It’s now 32 years since Liverpool lost at home on Boxing Day, Norman Whiteside scoring the only goal in a 1-0 loss to Manchester United in 1986.

Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez remains winless in four matches at his former home since leaving Merseyside.

Goals from Croatian defender Dejan Lovren, a Mo Salah penalty, Xherdan Shakiri and Roberto Firminho secured a straightforward victory over a Newcastle team lacking any ambition or creativity.

Newcastle punctuated Liverpool’s first half domination of possession by pumping some crosses in, Matt Ritchie being the most frequent contributor but there was little to frighten Alisson in the Reds’ goal. Joselu should have done better from one such cross with the score still at 0-0.

For Liverpool Trent Alexander-Arnold returned from a foot injury to start and Naby Keita’s rib recovered sufficiently to make the bench. Joe Gomez (ankle), Joel Matip (collar bone) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) remained sidelined.

Ciaran Clark’s ankle kept him out for Newcastle, while Florian Lejeune, Karl Darlow and Jonjo Shelvey all failed fitness tests.

Lovren opened the scoring in the 11th minute hammering home a poor Jamaal Lascelles’ headed clearance. The England U-21 star was not totally to blame however. With a decent shout from a colleague, he may well have left the ball alone and let it drift to safety.

Virgil van Dijk smashed an identical chance over under some pressure from a Mohamed Diamé challenge and Jordan Henderson blasted over from long range before the interval, as Liverpool tried to unlock a massed defence.

Xherdan Shaqiri came closest to doubling the lead in the first half when he forced Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka into an excellent save from a free kick.

Liverpool rectified the situation just 75 seconds into the second half but will get little credit for the method. Salah went down theatrically from a soft touch by Paul Dummett and referee Graham Scott awarded the penalty. Salah himself converted it. The touch was not enough to fell even the slenderest player but Salah professionally milked it.

It’s not however a replay his many fans will enjoy seeing over and over again, merely adding to Burnley coach Sean Dyche’s view that the big clubs win decisions against the smaller.

Shakiri made it 3-0 in the 79th minute with a tap-in from an Alexander-Arnold cross as the Geordies failed to clear their lines.

With Arsenal and Manchester City lying ahead for Liverpool, manager Jurgen Klopp started to focus on the future fairly early, removing
Georginio Wijnaldum and Firminho for Fabinho and Sturridge. Andy Robertson also came off presumably to beat the traffic on his way to hospital where his wife was awaiting his second child.

The news that Manchester City were once more inexplicably losing merely added to the joy. Firminho added to the mood with a late headed fourth from a quality Salah cross. Sadio Mane still had time to fire over.

Liverpool are about to face bigger tests that may define their season. Newcastle having failed to score against Fulham, the league’s worst defence in their last outing and routed today, face tricky matches with Watford, Manchester United and Chelsea next.

It would be surprising on this showing if they weren’t in the bottom three by the time they face Cardiff City on January 19th.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Lovren, Robertson (Clyne 82′), Henderson, Wijnaldum (Fabinho 62′), Shaqiri, Mane, Salah, Firmino (Sturridge 69′)

Newcastle: Dubravka, Dummet, Fernandez, Lascelles, Yedlin, Diame, Ritchie, (Murphy 81′) Hayden, Kennedy (Longstaff 73′), Muto, Joselu

Referee: Graham Scott
Eddie Smart, Marc Perry
Fourth official:
 Lee Mason


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