Connect in the back of the net

Newcastle United and Liverpool shared the spoils in today’s encounter at St James’ Park, with the match ending 1-1.

The visitors took the lead after 29 minutes through Philippe Coutinho’s fine strike from 25 yards, while a slightly fortuitous goal from Newcastle striker Joselu brought the Magpies back level and earned Rafa Benitez’s battling team a precious point.

We look through some talking points from the game.

 

Another frustrating draw for the Reds

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was no doubt the more discouraged manager of the two, after another game in which his team failed to kill off their opponents.

Despite boasting 68% possession and 17 attempts to Newcastle’s eight, Liverpool were held by a dogged Newcastle side and will feel they ought to have come away with more than a point.

They did have their chances, however, with Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming close, while Mohamed Salah blazed over from a seemingly open goal. The Reds only have themselves to blame for not taking their chances, and it would seem wise if Klopp conducted extra shooting drills during training sessions.

 

Disciplined display from Rafa’s men

From Newcastle’s point of view, they did well to thwart Liverpool and the point was a hard earned one.

The Magpies defended deep and maintained their shape throughout the 90 minutes, as well as keeping their discipline and showing high energy levels in order to foil the visitors.

Newcastle were also clinical in the sense that they scored their only clear-cut chance, albeit with a stroke of luck. Jonjo Shelvey fed Joselu with a through ball, the Spaniard hesitated and then found the ball in the back of the net after Joel Matip’s tackle went in off the striker’s shin. Benitez should be encouraged by his team’s display against a top side in Liverpool.

On another day, the Geordies would be celebrating three points, had Mohamed Diame found the net late on, however there are plenty of positives for Rafa to take; United must keep up such spirited performances and need to add some cutting edge for success in the Premier League.

 

Professional performance by Shelvey

United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey made his first start since returning from suspension having being left on the bench in previous games and his patience was rewarded with a tidy display.

He returned to his usual self of spraying balls around the park and demonstrating his range of passing, while his exquisite through ball assist for Joselu’s goal highlighted exactly why Shelvey’s creativity was missed from the centre of midfield in his absence.

An incident may have occurred in the second half when Shelvey confronted Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, although nothing came of it, luckily for Newcastle. A younger Shelvey might have let his temper take hold of him, however the midfielder controlled his anger and left the scene; a sign of encouragement that Shelvey was managing his anger.

He also cleared the ball off the line in the second half and always looked to move the ball forward, rounding off an ultimately professional display by an extremely talented footballer. If Shelvey can carry on these types of performances then he will be a real asset to the Newcastle team.

 

Lascelles impresses again

In recent weeks, Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles has impressed in front of goal in recent weeks, scoring the winner in back-to-back matches against Swansea City and Stoke City respectively.

However, it was in defence where he caught the eye today.

The 23 year-old was vital in restricting Liverpool’s chances in front of goal, making endless tackles and clearances and leading by example. He also made a crucial block to deny Daniel Sturridge early on and this then set the tone for the remainder of the match.

The young defender’s confidence is growing game by game and this was evident from an incredibly ambitious shot on goal in the first half which was comfortably saved by Mignolet.

Lascelles’ stock is rising in every game he plays and it is no surprise that England manager Gareth Southgate is keeping tabs on him, having been present at last week’s loss at Brighton.

 

Wijnaldum replicates away form at old home

If Newcastle fans were asked about Gini Wijnaldum’s time at St James’ Park, they would agree on two aspects: firstly, he is a talented footballer, and secondly, he does not perform away from home.

The Dutchman angered a few of the Geordies when he moved to Liverpool in July 2016 following Newcastle’s relegation as he was accused of a lack of effort and disappearing during select matches; most of these being away matches.

The case of Wijnaldum struggling away from home is a puzzling one, considering the skill he possesses, shown during home games. Today was no exception, aside from hitting the post midway through the first half, the Dutchman seemed non-existent.

Jeers from the home crowd were only heard on few occasions, highlighting that Wijnaldum did not have a significant impact on the match. Newcastle fans, however are glad that Wijnaldum did not break his away goal drought against them, and the midfielder’s duck continues.

Liverpool have now lost ground on both Manchester clubs at the top of the table, and face Manchester United at home in their next game. Newcastle have a long trip to Southampton in their next fixture, which is yet again televised.

This will be the Magpies’ sixth game to be broadcast live in their first eight matches; an indication that they have been greatly missed in the Premier League.

 

Written by Dawud Arshad

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