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Five things we learned from Newcastle v Liverpool

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The 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United on Saturday was Liverpool's fourth loss in ten Premier League games as the Reds put in one of their worst displays since Brendan Rodgers took over the hot-seat at Anfield 

Ayoze Perez's 73rd minute strike wrapped the three points up for the Magpies and his effort was more than deserved. The home side were by far the better team throughout the game and should have had a few more on the scoreboard.

Different game, same Mignolet

The Belgian put in another vintage performance that completely characterised his recent form.

Shot-stopping wise, he is extremely reliable, and may be the best in the league behind David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois.

Mignolet made two fantastic saves in the second period to keep his side in the game - two outstanding saves in fact, that should not have been stopped.

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The first when he denied Remy Cabella was very impressive. Cabella was one-on-one with the 26-year-old and should have scored, but Mignolet's decision to stand up tall and go down as late as possible allowed him to deny the Frenchman with his feet.

Then, moments later, he saved Papiss Cisse's effort that was curling into the bottom left hand corner as well as making a smart stop from Moussa Sissoko.

However, it was coming to claim the ball where Mignolet failed to meet standards. He looks searching for confidence this season and displayed that again.

In the first-half, there were two occasions when he did not deal with crosses when he should have.

The first was whipped over into a dangerous position, but it was Mignolet's territory to come and claim the ball - his movement off his line was non-existent and instead the Belgian stayed put. The Liverpool defence expected him to claim the ball, and it lead to a poor clearance and further pressure on the back-four.

The second came not long after. Newcastle whipped a corner across and despite Mignolet's path to the ball being heavily blocked, he still attempted to punch away. It was just an air punch as the former Sunderland man missed the ball and that mistake almost lead to a Magpies goal, but Glen Johnson cleared off the line.

With January fast approaching and Brendan Rodgers already hinting that he wants another goalkeeper having attempted to sign Victor Valdes, Mignolet must improve drastically if he wants to remain number one on Anfield.

Another defensive error cost the Reds

Liverpool have been prone to costly mistakes at the back this season, and another on Saturday dropped them points

Alberto Moreno failed to clear from inside his own box in the 73rd minute when he was far too casual on the ball. He was dispossessed by Perez, who calmly slotted his effort past Mignolet.

That was one of many defensive mistakes that the Reds back-four have made this term. It was Moreno's second of the campaign, having committed a similar offence on his debut against Manchester City and could well lose his place in the Liverpool starting line-up

In all fairness to the Spaniard, the defending prior to the goal was terrible. Sammi Ameobi was given far too much space by Glen Johnson on the left-hand side, and Jordan Henderson's half-hearted attempt to track back and help out was punished  as the former Sunderland man was virtually non-existent.

Johnson was plain awful against the North East side. He's an England international, yet had problems making Ameobi throughout the game. No disrespect to the Newcastle man, but given Johnson has played against some of the top players in the world, he should have done much better.

Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren's partnership is getting beyond a joke. They still have no communication when defending and too often play the same ball, either both going towards the ball of laying off.

They need to model themselves on John Terry and Gary Cahill at Chelsea. So often, it is Cahill who goes and Terry stays and this works for the current Premier League leaders. 

Skrtel was far too clumsy once again and gave away several fouls in dangerous areas - one coming just 20 yards out and Liverpool luckily escaped as the set-piece was fired over the bar.

Liverpool's midfield was terrible

The Reds had a world class player in Luis Suarez last season who could make things happen from virtually nothing. Likewise, Daniel Sturridge was superb when playing up top with the Urugauyian, and was good early on this season.

Suarez, of course, has left for Barcelona and Sturridge has been out since early September with injury.

With those two out of the team, there is nobody who is willing to step up to the plate.

Steven Gerrard put his all into the game but had no rewards. He was busy throughout the game and Liverpool's man of the match, but he didn't have the back up from his team-mates.

His central midfield partners were very poor. Jordan Henderson started the season brightly, but his form has shied away and he is not having a big enough effect in games. The former Sunderland man should be winning midfield battles and really making things happen for his team, but instead he is doing little.

It is about time Brendan Rodgers realised that Joe Allen is not good enough, also. The Welshman was non-existent in the Liverpool side and that is not the first time this term I've typed this. I don't know what Rodgers sees in Allen. He doesn't defend well nor attack with any threat or venom and is somewhat of a nothing player. Allen didn't really get involved in the game either and when he did, he gave the ball away too far easily.

Games are won in the centre of the pitch. Look at Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic at Chelsea, bossing the midfield and creating attacks for their side likewise Yaya Toure last season at Manchester City.

Balotelli cannot play on his own

Again, the Italian was forced to lead the Liverpool line alone and was isolated.

In the first-half, he was anonymous due to the lack of service he was receiving and forced him to drop deeper to try and get the ball. Balotelli coming further back made it easy for the Newcastle back-line to defend Liverpool attacks, as they could read the play and simply cut passes out.

We've saw when Balotelli does impact the Liverpool team, that he has strike-partner playing alongside him. His debut against Tottenham Hotspur was encouraging, when playing with Daniel Sturridge and the 24-year-old has done well when Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini have came off the bench to join him up top.

On his own, Balotelli got the ball and had little options around him. Raheem Sterling was told to stay out wide, and Philippe Coutinho didn't quite know what his role was. 

I feel sorry for him in a sense. Yes, he could be working harder, but his main job is to score goals - he's not getting this chance.

Rodgers has to be questioned

I'm starting to have may doubts about Brendan Rodgers. 

Every football fan can see that Balotelli plays better with a striker alongside him, but Rodgers seems to believe the Italian can play on his own. The evidence is there - Balotelli cannot play on his own.

Sam Allardyce made an excellent point this week saying that the Northern Irishman is too stubborn to change his ways

I have to agree with that statement.

Rodgers talks about this plan that is coming together at Anfield, and he is planning for the future. If he doesn't improve quickly, he will not have a future on Merseyside.

Liverpool want to see Champions League football again at Anfield next season, and the only way to secure that is to get results in the Premier League.

Adam Lallana was drafted in for £25 million in the summer, but was again forced to sit on the Liverpool bench for the third time in four games. He offers so much more than Joe Allen in the midfield, as he is creative going forward and willing to put himself about defensively.

Likewise, Emre Can was impressive against Hull City and Steven Gerrard enjoyed playing alongside the German. For some bizarre reason, he was dropped to the bench.

Maybe Rodgers is saving them for the mid-week clash against Real Madrid, but that game is already a lost cause. Liverpool need points domestically and in their other Champions League games against FC Basel and Ludogorets Razgrad, not against a side who thrashed them 3-0 at Anfield.

I couldn't understand the logic in playing Raheem Sterling so far out wide. The 19-year-old is not an out-and-out winger, and although he can beat his man on the wing, he prefers to cut inside and cause more problems.

Philippe Coutinho didn't quite know where his role was against Newcastle. At times, he was on the left, others he was playing through the wing. Clearly, that was down to Rodgers tactics.

Rodgers spent £100 million in the summer. He's had the money but nothing is happening. I don't quite think he knows his best team as of yet, and that's his fault for buying so many players.

Liverpool needed a world class player to replace Suarez. They had £75 million in the pot, but instead signed Balotelli for just £16 million. If he was such a superstar, why was he allowed to go so cheaply? 

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Topics:
Newcastle United
Premier League
Liverpool
Football

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