The Christmas festivities continued at Anfield as Liverpool sealed another routine win, their eighth straight league victory – to remain top of the table.
It took some time for Klopp’s side to get up to speed, probably carrying a hangover or two from the night before, but the players once again got the deed done, soaring to a 4-0 win against Newcastle.
A sluggish start was met with numerous opportunities for Joselu to give the visitors an unlikely lead before the most unpredictable of scorers stepped up to give the Reds the advantage. Of all people, it was Dejan Lovren who broke the deadlock with the Croatian’s shooting practice finally paying off as he lashed the ball in on the half-volley from a corner.
A rather fortuitous penalty, the club’s first in the league in 424 days, enabled the advantage to be extended before Shaqiri’s second-half goal and a first goal for Fabinho completed the rout to ensure there would be no nervy finish.
Where Liverpool continued to impress, Manchester City continued to falter, suffering their second defeat on the bounce with a 2-1 loss against Leicester. Extending their lead at the top, things sure are looking good on Merseyside right now.
Here are the ratings from the match.
Alisson – 7
Didn’t have much to do due to Liverpool’s dominance, particularly in the second half, but was equal to anything Newcastle threw at him, including a last-minute strike from Longstaff to ensure another clean sheet. Continues to provide a calming figure in between the sticks.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7
Untroubled throughout despite Matt Ritchie’s best efforts. Got forward more in the second half, producing pinpoint delivery for the third goal of the afternoon.
Dejan Lovren – 9
Deserves a nine for his strike alone. Don’t care about the rest of it, the goal was a stroke of genius.
How many times have we all groaned at him firing an audacious shot towards goal? Not here. The technique and power generated on the half-volley gave the ‘keeper no chance. A great strike and one that set Liverpool merrily on their way, shining quality on an otherwise lacklustre first forty-five for the home side.
Virgil van Dijk – 8
Had very little to do and probably spent more time in the opposition half in the second forty-five than his own. Desperately tried to get himself a goal but it wasn’t to be. Defensively strong yet again.
Andy Robertson – 7
Another strong performance, getting forward well in support of the attack. It was his cross that led to Lovren’s first-half goal and the Scotsman continued to energetically maraud down the left. A constant menace as usual.
Jordan Henderson – 8
Stepped up to the plate, showing forward thinking when in possession to drive his team towards goal. Deserves plenty of credit for his pass to Trent in the build-up to Shaqiri’s goal; although appearing easy at first glance, the perfectly weighted ball made it possible for Arnold to deliver a first-time cross into the box. Want to see more of his incisive passing as the season wears on.
Gini Wijnaldum – 7
Solid in the main, although even he will admit it wasn’t his best performance of the season. Did his job well enough before being subbed for Fabinho in the second-half.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 7
Utilised in midfield, it took a while for Shaqiri to get up to speed and his inclusion in a deeper role appeared to unsettle Liverpool within the opening exchanges. However, he was much improved after the break, getting a deserved goal for his hard work. A beautifully worked team goal, the Swiss international simply couldn’t miss from Trent’s driven cross.
Sadio Mane – 7
Worked and worked and worked. Desperately unlucky not to score a superb goal at the end of the game, catching a shot on the volley before seeing it sail just over the bar. He was everywhere and anywhere, putting in the hard graft in and out of possession, acting as a real nuisance to the Newcastle defence.
Mohamed Salah – 7
Benefitted from a rather soft penalty decision but few will be complaining given the amount of shouts referees have waved away at Anfield this season. Took his chance well from the spot, driving his shot low and hard past the goalkeeper to double the lead and give Liverpool some breathing room. Continues to look lively and is now up to 15 goals for the season. Will no doubt be pivotal in crucial games against Arsenal and City.
Roberto Firmino – 6
Continues to look a little off the pace. It wasn’t for a lack of trying though, wriggling his way into some nice areas before his touch let him down and squandered possession. Taken off in the second-half for Sturridge.
Fabinho – 7
Strong performance off the bench, getting his first goal for the club with a header from close range. It’s exactly what he deserved too, after a series of top draw displays over the last month, showcasing amble defensive awareness with the attacking nous to drive forward from deep. Slowly becoming a fan favourite.