Mizgan Ahmed on 6th December, 2015
Liverpool were beaten 2-0 by Newcastle at St. James’ Park marking Jurgen Klopp’s first away defeat as Reds manager.
Klopp made six changes that crushed Southampton, bringing in Mignolet, Clyne, Firmino, Milner, Benteke and Jordan Ibe for Bodgan, Randall, Lallana, Can, Sturridge and Origi.
The German went with a 4-2-3-1 with Lucas and Allen as midfield pair, Milner and Ibe in wide and Firmino in behind Benteke as Liverpool struggle again to breakdown a defensive-minded team.
Newcastle were setup for defending deep and frustrating Liverpool as much as they can and look to play on the counter. Sissoko and Wijnaldum came back and helped Janmaat and Dummet whenever needed. de Jong dropped deep and helped Colback and Anita in holding out Liverpool’s forward play.
There were no space for the Reds to attack so the need of the hour was to be patient and look to mix it up as much as possible. They created few good spaces in the first half by making clever runs but the final ball was disappointing every single time. Ibe, Firmino and Milner were disappointing when it comes putting a cross or giving the pass. Moreno in the first half did not offer much going forward as compared to Clyne, so Janmaat and Sissoko were able to press Milner. Clyne, on the other hand had more going forward but not enough in the final third. The Reds looked very disjoint with Firmino now and then dropping deep to force the play which forced Benteke to drop a bit behind leaving with less options for either of Milner or Ibe to attack at or throw in a cross at. Newcastle were very compact and looked to have every area of their defense covered.
After the Newcastle goal which unluckily for Liverpool came from Skrtel, Klopp changed to a diamond 4-4-2 with Origi and Sturridge leading the line, Lallana just behind those two, Lucas in the deeper role and Milner and Allen ahead of him.
This change inspired Liverpool a bit, but one should say, Liverpool were very lazy in their approach and looked disjoint as an attacking threat and midfield pressing.
One more aspect that was clearly missing in Liverpool’s play was their pressing and counter-pressing. The midfield pressing and retaining possession was poor, Lucas and Allen were not working in the same wavelength as far as pressing a player is concerned, Milner and Ibe did not press Newcastle’s wide plays, Stagnancy of Benteke was too a major factor of the disjointness in counter-pressing, the Belgian’s main movements were in around his own original position which makes it very easy for Coloccini and Mbemba to defend, he rarely took part in counter-pressing when Newcastle were looking to play out from the back.
Lack of good crosses was also a problem but no excuses, Benteke needed to be more sharp and look to take defenders with him and allow others to run in tandem.
All in all it should be said, Liverpool deserved absolutely nothing out of this game and Klopp’s post-match comments suggested that too. They’ll need to shore up few tactical mistakes as they face similar defensive-minded oppositions in near future.