Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle: 5 talking points as Trent’s stunner seals Anfield victory
Liverpool came from behind to win their sixth Premier League match in a row against Newcastle thanks to goals from Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Here are five talking points from Anfield
Before the action had got going on Merseyside, news filtered through that Liverpool would be without van Dijk for the match.
Not only was the Dutchman out, though, he had tested positive for Covid-19 alongside Fabinho and Curtis Jones.
It came off the back of Klopp’s rallying cry for Liverpool’s fans and players alike to get vaccinated, urging the Reds to “listen to experts” and “ignore lies” from sceptics.
Title rivals Chelsea also suffered an outbreak, with four stars returning positive tests after a whopping six matches in the Premier League were confirmed to be postponed on Thursday alone.
While who will win the league this season remains in doubt, whether the campaign will continue during the pandemic’s latest peak is just as precarious.
Shelvey stuns Anfield
Even after the disappointing news of van Dijk and co’s absence, Liverpool supporters still walked into Anfield feeling confident, with Newcastle having failed to win an away game this season.
But Shelvey had other ideas, coming back to haunt his former employers with a trademark long-strike in the seventh minute.
After Thiago Alcantara shanked a clearance, the ex-Reds youngster composed himself 25 yards from goal and unleashed an unstoppable effort, leaving Alisson Becker rooted to his spot in front of the Kop.
However, the Magpies’ lead would only last 14 more minutes as Jota scrambled in an equaliser after Martin Dubravka did his spectacular best to try and keep the Portuguese forward out.
Another game, another record
And who else would give Liverpool the lead but Salah?
With Klopp’s side pushing for a second, Shelvey gifted the ball to Sadio Mane on the edge of the Newcastle penalty area.
After riding a challenge, Mane fired off a shot straight at Dubravka, but the ball fell to Salah and the Egyptian dispatched with ease to restore normal service at Anfield, turning the Magpies’ mood around.
The 29-year-old equalled Jamie Vardy’s record of scoring or assisting in 15 consecutive Premier League games, and who would beat against him making it 16 when the Reds face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday?
Trent’s vital touch
20 minutes in to the second half, with very little to write home about, Newcastle broke away through Jacob Murphy and the Magpies winger worked a low cross into the Liverpool box.
Latching onto it was substitute Ryan Fraser, who was taken down by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The Toon Army were desperate for referee Mike Dean to point to the spot but their penalty appeals were waved away, with Dean convinced the Reds right-back had got enough of the ball.
Sure enough, he had, despite the challenge from Alexander-Arnold being eerily similar to what earned Arsenal a penalty on Wednesday as a result of Vladimir Coufal’s siding tackle.
It summed up the night for Howe and co, although the Magpies boss will take confidence from his team’s largely resolute display.
Six on the spin
Despite his well-timed – or finely fortunate – tackle, Alexander-Arnold’s next important touch will make the headlines.
With Newcastle still hoping to earn a draw, the 23-year-old almost took the net off and beat the defiant Dubravka on his near side with a Steven Gerrard-esque drive – not that the Slovakian could do much about it.
Although Klopp and co remain one point behind Man City in the table, Everton did Liverpool a favour by holding Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
The Reds now face a tricky set of fixtures over the festive period – coronavirus firebreak pending – but have eight successive wins in all competitions to behind them.
Six of those have come in the Premier League and their latest was as hard-fought as any, but the Anfield train keeps trucking on in search of another title.