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8/10 Wijnaldum stands out; Jota among four to get 5 or lower

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Georginio Wijnaldum was solid but Diogo Jota disappointed as Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle United at Anfield on Saturday.

Liverpool made a blistering start to the game, taking the lead less than three minutes in courtesy Mohamed Salah, who produced a powerfully driven finish from close range after seeing the ball fall at his feet. Thereafter, the Reds were in control of the proceedings, but clear-cut chances came few and far between, as Newcastle United sat back to absorb the pressure.

This meant Liverpool could have been susceptible to the odd counter-attacking move, but Alisson Becker was equal in the only instance Newcastle produced a shot on target in the first half. At the other end, the Reds did come close on a couple of occasions through Salah and Sadio Mane but were not clinical enough with their finish, as the first half ended with the hosts narrowly ahead.

Post the interval, it was more of the same, with Alisson having to make another big save to keep the Premier League champions ahead while Liverpool barely troubled Martin Dubravka. The visitors, though, rallied to snatch a point late on, first being cruelly denied after Callum Wilson scored before Joe Willock made it 1-1 with the final shot in the game.

The result means Liverpool’s top four hopes suffered another setback, with the draw leaving them a point adrift of Chelsea in fourth, with the Blues, who play West Ham United later in the day, having a game in hand. Meanwhile, Newcastle seem to have all but secured their place in the Premier League for the 2021/22 season. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Alisson Becker: 7/10

With Liverpool in control, there was not a lot that Alisson had to do. However, he did have a couple of big saves to make, with the one to deny Sean Longstaff standing out. Came off his line quickly to clear out the danger while completing all but one pass that he attempted on the day. Could not have done anything to deny Joe Willock for the late goal.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6/10

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Sent in a few dangerous crosses, but none were met with the right finish or positioning by the men in the box. Hardly ever called into action in the defensive phases, which meant Alexander-Arnold spent much of his time in the Newcastle half. Came close to scoring in the second half, but his effort whizzed past the frame of the goal.

Fabinho: 5/10

Decent effort by Fabinho for the most part, keeping the Newcastle attackers at bay with a couple of last-ditch challenges standing out. His precise work on the ball meant he paved the way for efficient build-up plays, as he completed 67 of the 68 passes he attempted. Solid work on the day. Failed to keep a track of Willock for the equaliser, which takes his rating down a bit.

Ozan Kabak: 7/10

The more nervy of the two Liverpool centre-backs, Kabak endured a couple of hairy moments, but to his relief, he had either Fabinho or Alisson covering up for him ably for the most part. Still managed to produce some impressive numbers, though, winning 6 duels while completing 5 tackles, 3 clearances and 2 interceptions. Also completed 93 percent of his attempted passes.

Andrew Robertson: 6/10

As is the case usually with Robertson, he was a constant outlet down the left flank and whipped in a number of crosses while completing a couple of key passes. However, his deliveries were not met with the right finishes. Defensively, the Scot hardly put a foot wrong, completing 3 tackles while winning 3 duels as well.

Georginio Wijnaldum: 8/10

A thoroughly professional display by Wijnaldum who saw a lot of the ball and completed just about every pass he attempted. With four maverick forwards playing in front of him, Liverpool’s skipper on the day chose to keep things simple and let those in front of him express themselves. Solid for the most part as well, completing a couple of interceptions.

Thiago Alcantara: 7/10

A major reason why Liverpool were in control of the proceedings for the most part, Thiago, who had more touches (113) than anyone else on the pitch, was quite efficient in his usage of the ball and opened up play superbly on a few occasions as well. Did not shy away from his defensive duties either, completing 5 tackles, although he did get overrun on a few occasions.

Mohamed Salah: 7/10

The Player to Watch in our preview, Salah made the perfect start to the game, when he produced a delightful finish to hand Liverpool the lead. Took up dangerous positions on a regular basis, which opened up space for the others around him. Had the chance to double his tally on a few occasions thereafter while he also created openings for Sadio Mane and Jota, only for none of those to be finished off. A fine effort nonetheless.

Roberto Firmino: 6/10

A solid effort by Firmino, who typically harried the Newcastle players to win the ball back high up the pitch. Did not get too many chances falling his way considering he was operating deeper than usual. However, from a couple of shots he did manage to muster up, the Brazilian could have ended up with a goal to his name on another day. Job well done for the most part, though.

Sadio Mane: 5/10

A bundle of energy, Mane had his role to play in the opening goal, as it was his looping ball that was headed towards Salah. However, he inexplicably failed to finish off a chance ahead of half-time when Salah found him in acres of space. Set up a chance for Salah himself in the second half, but the Egyptian forward fluffed his lines this time around. Should have done better with his chances, though.

Diogo Jota: 4/10

Here, there and everywhere in the first half, Jota saw a number of half-chances falling his way, but his shooting boots seemed to have been left at home, as he scuffed a number of efforts. It was more of the same post the interval as well before he was taken off for James Milner less than hour into the game. As it turned out, his misses played a part in Liverpool being held to a draw, in a way.

SUBSTITUTES

James Milner: 5/10

On for Jota, Milner was typically industrious in his display. Saw a lot of the ball and managed to recycle possession quite well while also forcing Martin Dubravka into a decent stop late in the game. Lost track of Dwight Gayle in the build-up to the Newcastle goal.

Curtis Jones: N/A

Back in action after completing his recovery from a knock, Jones got some important minutes under his belt, but did not have enough time to inspire Liverpool to get a second goal.



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