Well what can we say. Do we post details of the match against Newcastle at St James Park? Or do we copy and paste the details from the Spartak game, the Burnley game, Leicester game etc. If you didn’t know already, yesterday we saw Liverpool again dominate but fail to win. Sounds so familiar doesn’t it.
The build up to the match was not unsurprisingly dominated by the reunion between Liverpool and Rafa Benitez. Revered by both sets of fans, the day must have been a very emotional one for the popular Spaniard. For his part Rafa showed his class by making Margaret Aspinall (Hillsborough Family Support Group) his guest of honour. This is a true measure of the man. No wonder he still holds legendary status with Liverpool fans.
But what of the game itself?
Liverpool Again Dominate But Fail To Win
The statistics are so familiar. Liverpool with 68% possession, 17 shots compared to Newcastle’s 8 and 5 corners to Newcastle’s 1. Clear cut chances that should have been buried and so many excellent crossing positions wasted. It’s been said before on this website in an earlier match review, but again it’s Groundhog Day.
Philippe Coutinho gave Liverpool the lead on 29 minutes with a trademark, brilliant 25 yard screamer. As is so often the case though, instead of consolidating their position, Liverpool were still going gung-ho in search of a second. Only seven minutes after Coutinho’s brilliant opener, Liverpool imploded. The goal itself seemed to encapsulate all if Liverpool’s weaknesses in a matter of seconds.
Liverpool’s Weaknesses Exploited Again
Instead of managing the game out and looking to get to half time one goal to the good, Liverpool bombed forward in numbers yet again. Both full backs were in the oppositions half as ex-Red, Jonjo Shelvey got on the ball about 20 yards inside the Newcastle half. No-one in a Red shirt put any pressure on him. Shelvey, with all the time in the world, stroked a forward aiming for the gap between our two centre backs. Not for the first time this season, a seemingly simple through ball to be dealt with caused mayhem. Newcastle striker, Joselu, latched onto the ball and bore down on Liverpool’s goal. In truth, Joselu is not blessed with blistering pace so even though he got on the ball when he shouldn’t have got a sniff, he still had plenty to do.
As he approached Liverpool’s penalty area, Joel Matip had caught him and managed to get a challenge in just as Joselu entered the area. Liverpool keeper, Simon Mignolet, had already advanced off his line. Did he really need to be so far advanced seeing that Matip had already caught up with the attacker? The resulting Matip challenge only succeeded in knocking the ball against Joselu’s shin and ricocheting beyond Mignolet. Agonisingly, the ball slowly rolled to the bottom right hand corner of Liverpool’s goal. Newcastle’s first meaningful attack, 1-1. Sound familiar?
All Our Defensive Weaknesses In That One Move
So many things seemed to go wrong in this little passage of play. Did we need to yet again just leave two at the back, so high up? Given that the two centre backs are not known to be particularly good on 1v1 situations, should we have been so high up the pitch? Why didn’t anyone pressure Shelvey? Did Mignolet need to come so far off his line? Also, given that Lovren and Matip were level when the ball reached the ponderously paced Joselu, where was Lovren after the ball bounced off Joselu’s shin and rolled towards the Liverpool line? If Matip made it back to challenge Joselu, why didn’t Lovren make it back to clear the ricochet?
Even though the Newcastle was unavoidable it should have only been a consolation. Yet again, Liverpool carved out several chances that should have put the game to bed. After the virtually anonymous Gini Wijnaldum headed against the post from a corner, both Lovren and Mane failed to convert easy looking chances from the ensuing melee.
On the 50th minute, Daniel Sturridge should have done better than rap Newcastle keeper, Rob Elliot’s legs when presented with a one on one. As the ball rebounded from Elliot’s legs, Mohamed Salah had the seemingly simple task of stroking the ball into an empty net. Instead he ballooned the ball over.
In the last minute a great ball in from the improving Alberto Moreno, found late substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at the far post. A simple looking header was again unfortunately wasted.
Still, Liverpool almost managed to throw it all away when yet again shocking defending from a corner almost presented Newcastle with an underserved, injury time winner.
What’s The Answer
Like it or not, we are stuck with this squad until January. If though in January we are linked with another attacking midfielder, I will scream. It is now apparent that Liverpool’s summer transfer dealings were inadequate. Credit to Jurgen Klopp in saying that he would work with what he got when he first arrived almost two years ago. He stated that he was happy with his squad at that time. He does have a fantastic reputation in getting the best out of his players. But having said that, after four transfer windows, we still have not resolved the glaringly obvious weaknesses in the team. Trying to get the best out of what we have has not worked. This should have been abundantly clear at the end of last season.
To enter this season with only the one upgrade (Mohamed Salah) on last season’s starting line-up is a bad error of judgment. All of our main rivals have upgraded on what they had. And, noticeably, all of them have strong spines running through the team. The spine of our team is woefully weak. We need a top class goalkeeper (we may already have him at the Club in Danny Ward), and commanding, leader of a centre back (is there a Plan B for Virgil Van Dijk? Toby Alderweireld anyone?). Also, we need and have needed a dominant holding midfield player for some time. The combination of Henderson, Can and Wijnaldum does not work defensively.
In the short term I’d give Milner some more playing time. And what about Marko Grujic? Is he still not ready for first team duty? If not what’s he still doing at the Club? The midfielder to be sacrificed for a more defensive minded alternative? Choose any one of them. For me, neither one of them do enough for me. It looks like it’s going to be a long wait until January.
You can see the highlights and the Match Of The Day analysis of another episode of Liverpool again dominate but fail to win below……
Let us hope this is the last time we say Liverpool again dominate but fail to win this season. Someone, someday are due to get a right hiding. Let’s hope it’s Man Utd and Tottenham in our next two games. Don’t hold your breath though.