Watching Liverpool this season has been like spectating the same predictable outcome each passing week. It has been the groundhog day of the football season. Chance after chance falls to the Liverpool front four before miss after miss occurs.
The ruthless nature of Jurgen Klopp’s side has evaporated, and so has their chance to reclaim a place in the top four. You could almost foresee the future as Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino all saw chances wasted. And Newcastle United sensed the same feeling.
The feeling that the inevitable was going to happen; the goal was going to come. And, in the last kick of the game, it did. Liverpool thought they had gotten away with it when Callum Wilson’s strike was ruled out when the clock struck 90. That was a warning sign the Reds should have paid attention to.
Moments later, Arsenal loanee Joe Willock struck to all but end Liverpool’s Champions League hopes. Defensively, for the majority of the game, Klopp’s side provided a foundation for the front four to do their job. The midfield, too, did their job by creating chance after chance.
Yet, come the end of the game, Newcastle still had the opportunity to equalise. The blame should lie with the only players who failed to complete their task: The front four of Liverpool.
Liverpool Front Four to Blame in Newcastle Draw
Jurgen Klopp Also Far From Perfect
You can’t blame Jurgen Klopp for steadying the ship at 1-0 by bringing James Milner into proceedings for Diogo Jota. That substitution made sense. What didn’t make sense, however, was Thiago Alcantara’s departure.
The experienced, serial winner and Man of the Match in the game was replaced by the inexperienced, attack-minded Curtis Jones in the closing stages. Klopp needed to protect the lead. Milner coming onto the pitch did exactly that. Taking Thiago off did the exact opposite.
The Spaniard acted as the conductor to what was a neat and tidy Liverpool display, barring the poor finishing. Take that conductor away, and you are left with an out of tune band instead of a sweet, calm symphony.
In defence of the manager, the game shouldn’t have even reached the 90th minute. It should have been done and dusted. Jones should have been entering the pitch with the Reds having already sealed the three points. The chances missed in the first half set up another sadly predictable finish from a Liverpool point of view.
The System Worked but Finishing Touch Needed
The same 4-2-3-1 system can be implemented heading into the final stages of the season. Despite the end scoreline, there is no denying that Liverpool posed a far more dangerous threat with the new formation.
Roberto Firmino thrived in the ten role- holding the ball up before releasing teammates. The midfield created chances and protected the defence for the majority. The only thing that was missing was the taking of the handful of opportunities created.
That is why the game will be looked back on with so much frustration. Everything seemed to work. Unlike other times this season, it wasn’t the lack of chances created which posed a problem. Instead, it was those left with taking the opportunities that did.
For now, Liverpool will be ruing the missed opportunities and, in truth, awaiting what has been a disastrous season to be over.
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