Liverpool overcame the absence of sick Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho to come back against Newcastle in a 3-1 win at Anfield on Thursday, a win underlined by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s thunderbolt late goal to finish off the visitors.
Ex-Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey put Newcastle ahead early with a long-range goal, but the Magpies did not escape the bottom three thanks to quickfire goals, one of them controversial, 15 minutes later.
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Diogo Jota scored a goal after Liverpool played on and crossed over an injured Newcastle player, and Mohamed Salah made it 2-1 four minutes later as two goals were enough for the league’s second-place side.
Liverpool’s 40 points are one behind Man City and three more than third-place Chelsea after the Blues drew Everton.
Newcastle’s 10 points remain three back of safety.
Liverpool vs Newcastle final score, stats
Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle
Goals scored: Shelvey 7′, Jota 21′, Salah 25′, Alexander-Arnold 87′
Shots: Liverpool 23-4 Newcastle
Shots on target: Liverpool 8-2 Newcastle
Possession: Liverpool 74-26 Newcastle
Three things we learned
1. Magpies not good enough to overcome bad breaks: Forget the nature of the hosts and Newcastle’s long-term struggles at Anfield; The Magpies aren’t going to beat anyone this season if the breaks go against them, let alone getting good fortune. A few days after VAR failed to review James Maddison’s dive to win a penalty in what became a 4-0 loss to Leicester, referee Mike Dean allowed Liverpool to play on despite two Magpies lying prone in their own 18. Sadio Mane wasn’t bothered to sweep a cross over a face-down Isaac Hayden and the Reds leveled the score. A second goal followed because of course it did, as Newcastle’s resolve needs strengthening in a big way (but not as badly as the Magpies need improved talent).
2. Liverpool too good, even off-form, for Newcastle: Just as Newcastle isn’t going to win much without good fortune, a club as good as Liverpool getting the rub of the green seems patently unfair (as unfair as playing on with defenders prone in the box? Good debate). Mohamed Salah is creating chances in his sleep right now, and the Reds were able to mostly cruise past Newcastle despite illness befalling Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho (as well as Curtis Jones). And we shouldn’t overplay the absences when Liverpool’s rich investment has allowed it to have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ibrahima Konate as its depth pieces.
3. Newcastle’s half-decade needs for an all-action midfielder rolls on: Newcastle has players who can score and players who can create, and their goalkeeper is good. The defense is far from imperious but Isaac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey sitting atop the center backs is not the end of the world. But Newcastle’s need for a Wilfred Ndidi or Fred type, let alone someone of N’Golo Kante or Fabinho’s stature is on display every single time the Magpies play. There was a time when the Magpies could look to Moussa Sissoko, Gini Wijnaldum, Yohan Cabaye and several others. Now their depth is Jeff Hendrick and Sean Longstaff. Nothing against those players as humans, but woof. January cannot come soon enough.
Man of the Match: Trent Alexander-Arnold
A fullback is never going to be Premier League Player of the Year but TAA is on another level this season. Say what you will about Mohamed Salah and the Man City collective, but Alexander-Arnold is playing the PL like a fiddle when the Reds are in possession.
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Two interceptions, three key passes, and a ridiculous goal were all added to Alexander-Arnold’s season record on Thursday, and he entered the match second in the PL in big chances created, second in assists, 20th in completed passes, and second in key passes. An artist. An artist who showed pure power to boot.
TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD OH MY 🚀
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 16, 2021
The sport is for competitors, but decorum not for Liverpool
Playing on when the opponent has an Injured player is one thing, but crossing the ball over a prone mark is another. Sadio Mane did just that after a collision between Ibrahima Konate and three Magpies left Isaac Hayden on the turf.
We can all agree that the ultimate responsibility is on referee Mike Dean to protect players and the spirit of the game, but the veteran official has rarely let anyone sway him away from him (Is that too cynical? Possibly).
Jonjo Shelvey’s annual Willy Wonka goal is beautiful
The ex-Liverpool man’s ability to pick out long passes few players even see is what gives the Newcastle man his place on the field, but don’t sleep on the audacity and precision of Jonjo Shelvey when he’s at his best.
What a hit from “Big Jonj” to give Newcastle it’s early lead. He’s one of the Willy Wonkas of the Premier League, capable of things that other players barely imagine.