Newcastle United 2-0 Liverpool: a dreadful day at the office for the Reds

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Heading into Sunday's match against Newcastle United, there was so much confidence from Liverpool fans.

'Kloppmania' was in full throttle and each member of the Reds squad would have been thoroughly looking forward to kick-off at St. James' Park.

Jurgen Klopp has certainly made an instant impact in the two months he's been in charge of Liverpool. He's injected a new lease of life into the team and created a buzz similar to when Luis Suarez was at the club.


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Strong away form

Wednesday's 6-1 thrashing away at Southampton in the Capital One Cup was an unbelievable performance. Although form at Anfield hasn't been all that inspiring this campaign - with Liverpool often struggling to break team's down - they've been near-unplayable on the road.

Runaway victories against Chelsea, Manchester City and now Southampton labelled the Merseyside outfit with a stigma that they are a force to be reckoned with away from home.

Decisive wins against the three aforementioned meant, on paper, Liverpool should have thrashed Newcastle on Sunday. The Magpies were rooted to just one spot above the bottom of the Premier League, winless at home for almost two months, and Steve McClaren was under a significant amount of pressure to snatch all three points.

For many, it was not a case of if Klopp's men would travel back to Merseyside with all three points, but how many goals they would score.

However, Liverpool got a rude awakening. Whether it was overconfidence or underestimating their opponent, they were simply not good enough in the north east.

Poor attacking showing

So often going forward away from home, the Reds have looked ruthless and unstoppable at times.

Their counter-attacking devastated Southampton mid-week, with Ronald Koeman's side unable to cope with the cavalry-like charges when the five-time European Cup winners were on the break.

Philippe Coutinho was absent through injury, but Adam Lallana stepped into his shoes with such elegance and ease on the South Coast.

The England international found himself dropped to the bench against Newcastle, likewise Daniel Sturridge, who had marked his first start for Klopp with a sublime brace. Seemingly, the ex-Borussia Dortmund coach is aware how gruelling the Christmas period will be and wanted to keep his chief protagonists fresh.

In came Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino, who both struggled to find their rhythm.

Benteke's Anfield career has been very much stop-start. He's shown glimpses of his ability having scored several stunning goals, but, overall, hasn't adapted how many would have liked him to.

He's still the player he was at Aston Villa prior to his £32.5 million summer switch. He insists on getting the ball to feet, as well as wanting it on his head from wide areas.

The Reds didn't quite play to his strengths, but the Belgium international also didn’t help by refusing to make angling runs and at least attempting to adopt Klopp's tactics.

Having been the main man at Villa for so long, he's used to having things his own way and having the team play around him. However, he’s just another face at Anfield, second record signing or not, and now needs to start playing as his manager wants him to if he is to succeed.

Firmino had been top-class when the Reds devastated Manchester City. But recent performances in wins against Bordeaux, Swansea City and now at Newcastle show that he if far from the finished article. He role was to be the link between midfield and attack and be the nucleus of the team on the break but instead flattered to deceive.

He did not inspire his team filling in for Coutinho and Lallana. Often he was too slow on the ball and struggled to get it stuck to his feet.

Lack of creativity

Klopp opted to start with a midfield three of James Milner, Joe Allen and Lucas. Instantly alarm bells rang about where ideas in the heart of the pitch would come from.

Emre Can missed the game through suspension and his usual influence in the middle of the park was noticeably absent.

Milner has been an admirable captain whilst Jordan Henderson has been sidelined, but he is limited going forward. He has three goals to his name this term, but two are penalties and he could not influence the match with the ball at his feet on the break. The Yorkshireman’s work-rate was good but he lacked creativity.

Lucas was his unusual self. Normally, the Brazilian is buzzing with energy and has been a key player since Klopp took the reins. Perhaps he was feeling the effect of the busy schedule he's been involved with, but his tracking back was sub-par and his distribution well below what his manager expected.

Allen took a giant leap forward against the Saints, with his performance arguably the best since he moved to Anfield in 2012. He had the job of replacing Can and, quite simply did not cut the mustard. The Wales international often looked bewildered in the midfield and caught in limbo between both attacking and defending.

Not all roses

McClaren declared Liverpool title contenders prior to kick-off on Sunday. Whether he truly believed in his words or he was trying to buy himself more time given how much of an underdog Newcastle were are two separate questions - but he wasn’t the only person in the land to voice that opinion.

Klopp’s men had a chance of taking advantage of poor results from their rivals for a second successive weekend. Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea had all surprisingly dropped points and victory in Tyneside meant Liverpool would have moved level on points with Spurs.

Problems still remain at Anfield. When senior faces like Coutinho, Sturridge, Henderson - who did not emerge from the bench - and Mamadou Sakho are absent, there's a lack of individuals who are courageous enough to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and dominate.

Jordon Ibe tried his very best and was a bright spark but his service to him was limited and he was often forced to go chasing the ball himself.

Firmino and Benteke were reluctant to justify the hefty price-tags they’re worth, likewise Milner’s wage bill.

In fairness to Klopp, he's played down Liverpool's title chances and even the possibility of finishing in the top four. The 48-year-old knows exactly the task at hand in L4 and understands there is a great deal that still needs working on.

Klopp is admired for his honesty, win or lose. When he feels Liverpool can win the title, he'll be the first to admit it.

Can Liverpool win the title this season? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

Christian Benteke
Steven Gerrard
Premier League
Newcastle United

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