Liverpool vs Newcastle result: Five things we learned as Jurgen Klopp’s side continue winning start to season

Sadio Mane’s double and Mohamed Salah’s fine goal saw Liverpool come from behind to secure another three points

Harry Latham-Coyle@hlathamcoyle
Saturday 14 September 2019 14:28
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp laughs off Sadio Mane outburst

Liverpool FC came from behind to beat Newcastle United 3-1 at Anfield and continue their winning start to the Premier League season.

Two goals from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah’s third made it five wins from five games for Jurgen Klopp’s side, and secured three more points that will keep them top of the Premier League table.

Newcastle had taken the lead thanks to a brilliant goal from left wing-back Jetro Willems, diving inside Trent Alexander-Arnold with nifty footwork and firing superbly into the top corner past Adrian.

But Mane equalised just before the half-hour mark, and the introduction of Roberto Firmino before half-time after Divock Origi limped out of the game further changed the contest, with Mane adding a second before the interval from Firmino’s pass and Salah the third from the Brazilian’s edge of the box trickery.

Here are five things we learned.

1.Liverpool’s underrated midfield depth

Jurgen Klopp brought Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back in to his side, starting the former Arsenal midfielder on the right of the midfield three alongside Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum.

An underrated and oft-ignored facet of this Liverpool side is their midfield depth. Beyond that starting three, Klopp could call upon any of James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri if required from the bench, while Naby Keita is not far away from a return after injury.

Critics of Liverpool have often pointed to that midfield area as homogenised, with a group stylistically too similar to each other and too workmanlike. But that is simply not true – Liverpool possess a deep and varied midfield corps, all of whom work hard to engage Klopp’s press, enabling rotation without compromising the unit’s strength.

2. Firmino’s introduction key in turning the pattern of the game

Roberto Fimino’s importance to Liverpool was again spotlighted this afternoon, with the Brazilian’s introduction changing the pattern of the game.

While Liverpool had equalised ten minutes before Firmino’s arrival, Newcastle’s five-man defence looked, on the whole, relatively comfortable.

When Divock Origi limped off and Firmino came on, though, the Brazilian immediately asked different questions and created indecision. Dropping deep, the three Newcastle centre-halves were unsure of whether to step out with Firmino, and, if so, which of them should go with him.

It was from such a situation that Sadio Mane’s second goal came. Firmino dropped deep and won the ball in a good area, turning to find the Newcastle defence fragmented and out of alignment, with Mane and Mohamed Salah both making their favourite diagonal, incisive runs into the spaces created.

Though his pass was a touch overhit, Mane forced a fumble from Martin Dubravka and capitalised on the goalkeeper’s mishandle and put Liverpool ahead.

And then there was the trickery on the edge of the are to tee up Salah for the third, a joyful expression of footballing creativity executed to perfection, finding a modicum of space when there seemed to be none and turning the ball quite brilliantly into the Egyptian’s pass. Naughty.

3. Are Newcastle really that bad?

Jetro Willems scored an excellent goal for Newcastle

This is a question that had been tentatively put forward after Newcastle’s surprise victory at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, and after giving Liveprool a scare, it is fair to ask it again.

When Steve Bruce arrived at Newcastle they were widely written off, declared relegation favourites and pointed to as an example of a dysfunctional Premier League club, particularly after letting key attacking influencers go in Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez.

But a scan of today’s team sheet shows an underlying quality, and reveals the strength of the squad with which Bruce has to work. Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar are two of the better centre-backs outside of the top six, while 22-time Dutch international Jetro Willems showed his quality with a magnificent turn inside and finish into the top corner. Emil Krafth has similar international experience with Sweden.

Further forward, Joelinton and Miguel Almiron were both expensively procured (though both have more to prove), while Christian Atsu’s obvious abilities saw him bounce around the Chelsea loan system for longer than most.

Consider, then, that this side was selected from a squad ravaged by injury – Andy Carroll, Sean Longstaff and exciting summer signing Allan Saint-Maximin are among seven or so first team players out. Perhaps we underestimated the quality of this Newcastle team, and their promising start to the season should come as less of a surprise.

4. Magnificent Mane becoming Liverpool’s most consistent attacker

Two more Liverpool goals for Sadio Mane, and the Senegalese attacker is beginning to move towards another level. It is easy to forget that Mane may only just be coming into his prime.

Mane is becoming the most consistent of Liverpool’s front three, ever a threat as a runner, passer or scorer. He is timing his movements expertly; few players in the division recognise space more effectively, or appreciate how to exploit it.

Since the beginning of last season, Mane is the only player to have scored 25 or more Premier League goals without scoring a single penalty. He is an instinctive, prolific goal scorer and hugely important to the Liverpool side.

5. Liverpool’s refusal to panic could be crucial to title race

Jurgen Klopp’s side seem to have such calm throughout games, even after going behind.

The players trust in the system and their processes, not forcing passes or rushing things in the final third. They scored three today without truly finding top gear.

If you are to criticise Pep Guardiola’s remarkable Manchester City side, it is that they sometimes look to have a desperation to them in adverse situations, and the panic that can sometimes ensue is often more curse than blessing.

Klopp’s side seem to avoid those moments, and with another ding-dong title battle setting itself up rather nicely, that lack of panic could be crucial.

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