Liverpool moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League table as they defeated Newcastle 4-2 at Anfield on Monday night. Mohamed Salah was denied from the penalty spot midway through the first half but made amends four minutes after the interval as he opened the scoring from close range. Alexander Isak drew the Magpies level five minutes later before Curtis Jones and Cody Gakpo netted for the hosts. Sven Botman gave Newcastle a fighting chance, but Salah converted from the penalty spot late on to bag all three points for his side. And Express Sport takes a look at the biggest talking points from the clash on Merseyside.
Calls for Salah to be taken off penalties
Salah failed to hold his nerve from the penalty spot once again in the first half as his thumping effort was palmed away by Martin Dubravka. Salah’s kick was devoid of any sort of finesse as he whacked the ball as hard as he could – and the shot also lacked the direction needed to bulge the back of the net.
He eventually converted from 12 yards later in the match but has now missed four of his last 10 Premier League penalties, which will be concerning for Jurgen Klopp. With matches often decided by the finest of margins, the Reds can’t afford to be giving up these sort of opportunities to score goals. And after the Egypt international saw his first effort saved, Gary Neville told Sky Sports: “Wonder when Liverpool will take Salah off of penalties. He won’t like it of course but they must be thinking about it.”
Nunez has what it takes to step up
Liverpool are set to lose Salah this month when the ace travels to the Ivory Coast to play at the Africa Cup of Nations. And Darwin Nunez has what it takes to be the Reds’ main man over that period as he is an absolute nightmare for defenders to deal with.
But he needs to learn how to finish. It’s something that has been said time and time again since his move to Anfield but, if Nunez could just take his chances, he could prove to be the difference in the title race. Nunez was hauled off just after the hour mark after missing a hatful of chances. And after the player missed with a header, Neville exclaimed: “He’s beating himself up now. I thought it was too high for him (the cross), but maybe it wasn’t. He’s coming off now, he’ll be devastated.”
Profligacy will cost Liverpool dearly
Liverpool had an expected goals tally of 4.25 with 20 minutes remaining but had only found the back of the net once by that point. Dubravka was outstanding in the Newcastle goal, but Liverpool were incredibly wasteful. If they can’t be more clinical in front of goal, it will cost them dearly between now and the end of the season.
Carragher and Neville purring at Alexander-Arnold
Trent Alexander-Arnold almost scored a wondergoal in the first half as he lashed the ball towards goal when positioned just inches from the byline. The player is a generational talent and at half-time Neville said: “Oh my word, that’s the best non-goal I’ve ever seen.” And Jamie Carragher added: “Can you imagine trying that? It’s almost like Roberto Carlos.”
Games take their toll on Anthony Gordon
Anthony Gordon began the campaign in scintillating form and has already bagged six goals and six assists in the Premier League this term. But his output has reduced in recent weeks and he has contributed just one assist in his last six top-flight matches.
The 22-year-old has started nine matches since the start of December and appears to be in desperate need of a rest. Eddie Howe might have his hands tied due to the Magpies’ current injury plight, but he can’t keep relying on the same players and expect them to perform at their highest levels. He looked leggy and lethargic at points in this match and the long-term absence of Harvey Barnes, who would likely have been used in rotation with Gordon this season, is certainly taking its toll.