LONDON: Liverpool, officially, have slowed up this season. All the statistical analyses suggest that Jurgen Klopp’s players have not been matching the Gegenpressing levels of last season. The manager’s frustration was increased by the ‘mere’ 1-1 draw at Newcastle.
Klopp’s men had returned to daily life of the Premier League with the frustrating memories of Moscow fresh in their mind where they created enough chances on Tuesday to bury Spartak but had to settle for a 1:1 draw.
This season, in all competitions, Liverpool had manufactured more than 120 goal attempts before going to St James’ Park where they found one of their old favourite managers, Rafa Benitez, in waiting.
Benitez had never played host to Liverpool since leaving Anfield in 2010 and he was given a rousing reception by both home and visiting fans before kickoff. After that it was back to business with Newcastle seeking to prove that Benitez was still a better master of defensive tactics than Klopp.
It took a brilliant goal from Philippe Coutinho after 29 minutes to obtain the lead for Liverpool but Newcastle responded with plenty of spirit and character. Liverpool’s defence was found wanting yet again as a huge space opened between centre-backs to gift Joselu a 36th-minute equaliser.
The growing frustration in Liverpool’s ranks grew, the longer the game went on.
Sadio Mane was lucky not to be shown a yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Joselu while Joe Gomez was even more fortunate to escape red for a high challenge on Christian Atsu.
Liverpool raised the pressure in the closing stages, replacing Mane and Daniel Sturridge, to no avail.
** Everton found dropping Wayne Rooney was not to be the answer Ronald Koeman wanted as they lost 1-0 at home to Burnley. Everton are only two points above the relegation zone and show no sign of replacing the goals gap left Romelu Lukaku’s exit. Ireland international Jeff Hendrick scored the goal which made Koeman the bookmakers’ favourite as next sacking.
** Arsenal manager Arsenal Wenger celebrated his 21st anniversary in charge by seeing his Gunners claim an easy 2-0 win over promoted Brighton. Nacho Montreal and Alex Iwobi scored the goals, the second set up by a brilliant Alexis Sanchez back heel. Arsenal have thus kept four Premier clean sheets for the first time in a row since May 2014.