Match Overview: Reds Prevail in New Year’s Showdown
Matchday 20 saw the Reds entertain Newcastle United in the first Premier League match of the year. The line-up and subsequent ratings are listed below from a very entertaining game of New Year’s Day football under the Anfield lights.
🔴📊 Liverpool, top of Premier League table with 45 points in 20 games!
…Newcastle have now lost 7 of 8 last games in all competitions ⚪️⚫️ pic.twitter.com/SSEKiUXyPw
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 1, 2024
Key Performances and Ratings
Alisson Becker – 7.0: The world’s greatest goalkeeper has been vital in pushing his side to the top of the Premier League this season. Had little to do, other than recycle play through a frustrating first half. Could do nothing for the Isak goal, as his defensive group let the striker in on goal to finish smartly. Was again let down by his defensive group, as Sven Botman made the scoreline close once more.
Joe Gomez – 7.0: With both senior left-backs injured, Joe will now continue in this role for the most important of matches. Started well and his exploits in defence were solid, as he covered across well when the visitors broke free. Was energetic and relentless in his play, as the need for full pitch coverage was needed throughout this enthralling encounter.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.0: The vice-captain and England star continued his hybrid approach, with a fiery start which saw his effort deflected wide in the opening two minutes. Had several chances after this (one truly outrageous from an angle), with much of his work being about delivery in the final third. Was solid and defensively aware in the opening 45-minutes. The second half was about patience and character, which the 25-year-old showed till the match was won.
Ibrahima Konaté – 7.0: A return to the team after a rest last week. Everything that needed defending was done with power and speed, as the periods of defensive work in the first half were sporadic. Was steady and secure, until Newcastle scored. The tracking was not on point and the away side’s second goal saw the giant Frenchman stand alone in the box. The conditions were not ideal for the central defenders.
Virgil van Dijk – 7.0: The captain and leader of this team, he simply must start any game that he is able. He was able to bring calm amongst chaos, as his team continually galloped forward in a frenzied first half. Was caught out for the equaliser, as hesitation in the line created the Isak run to become a goal. Was important in steadying the ship, as the weather and game state created opportunities for the away side.
Curtis Jones – 8.0: The industrious midfielder adds balance to the midfield; therefore, it was great to see him starting again. Started so well, yet drifted into a more controlling role in midfield, after the opening stages saw him involved in the final third. His goal was built from desire to get into the box and be on point to tap in from close range. A very solid outing.
Wataru Endō – 6.0: The Japan captain will head off to the Asia Cup after this match, after solidifying himself as an important cog in the Anfield machine. He did the hard work in a frenetic opening 45-minutes, as he looked to break up play. Ran himself into the ground, before he was replaced for a more controlling entity.
Substitutions: 75 mins
Dominik Szoboszlai – 6.0: The Hungarian skipper started on the right of midfield, with a licence to run at the visiting backline. Was busy yet poor in some of his decisions in the first half, as his shooting and final ball was not quite on point. The second half was a continuing effort without product, before he left the field.
Substitutions: 64 mins
Luis Díaz – 9.0: The Colombian flyer came back into the starting eleven, with a need to produce more for the first team elite. Was unlucky not to open the scoring, after a fine line caught Darwin offside. Moments later, his positive run created the penalty for Mohamed Salah, who saw his strike saved. Was electric throughout that first half. In the second half, the wingman increased his efforts and he was pivotal in supplying the ball for the opening goal. More moments of elite skill created more chances, as his teammates continued to fail in front of goal. It was a surprise to see the Reds’ best player on the night, leave the field early.
Man of the Match
Substitutions: 64 mins
Darwin Núñez – 7.0: The Uruguayan raging bull was a certain starter, especially after his match-winning cameo at St James’ Park earlier in the year. Was unlucky with a close-range effort early on, as the keeper made a low stop. Created the disallowed goal and should have scored with a clear one-on-one in another frustrating first half. The early moments of the second half had the number 9 take on a flurry of saved chances, in between servicing Salah for the match’s first goal. The failure to convert saw him replaced by Diogo Jota shortly after a headed chance inched wide.
Substitutions: 64 mins
Mohamed Salah – 9.0: The Egyptian King started what should be his last game of January, before heading off for the 2024 African Cup of Nations. Started so brightly and positively, with his calm demeanour missing for the saved penalty. Seemed unsure after the missed spot kick and needed to be more decisive in that opening period. The match’s opening goal was finally attained in the opening stages of the second half, with a simple tap in. Moments later, an absurd piece of skill allowed the legendary forward to volley a cross to Darwin, who saw his attempt blocked once more. The secondary assist for his side’s second goal was sublime, as the fear of more dropped points swirled alongside the British weather. Two delightful passes created first a secondary and then a pure assist, as the number 11 started to torment his adversaries. Another penalty was awarded, which he calmly dispatched in a wonderful overall performance.
Mohamed Salah. 20 PL matches. 22 goal involvements. Joint Top Scorer AND Top Assists in PL. The best player in Premier League, there is no debate. pic.twitter.com/03mSq2jzlB
— Moby (@Mobyhaque1) January 1, 2024
Cody Gakpo – 6.0 (on 64): Came on to add energy and got a vital goal.
Ryan Gravenberch – 5.0 (on 64): Came on to add guile.
Diogo Jota – 8.0 (on 64): Came on to add a decisive nature in the final third, which came with a beautiful assist to Curtis Jones. His direct running created the penalty for Mo to make amends for the first-half miss.
Alexis Mac Allister – 7.0 (on 75): Came on to add control to a possession-heavy team.
Tactical Insight: Jürgen Klopp’s Approach
Jürgen Klopp – 8.0: The German manager rotated his side with a view of getting his best starting eleven back onto the pitch. He would have been delighted with the overall work rate in the first half, yet despite 18 chances on goal in that period, nil-nil was the closing score at the break.
After watching his team score a much-deserved goal, it would have been horrifying to see his team concede shortly thereafter. After a flurry of chances for his team, eventually, the changes were made. In replacing both Darwin Núñez and Dominik Szoboszlai, there was logic, however, the decision to remove his Colombian flyer was surprising. Fortunately for the Anfield fanbase, the changes worked and sparked something in his wasteful side. The goals need to be scored more fluidly, yet a 4-2 win in the end was a great New Year’s Day result.