Liverpool FC look to have got their mojo back with their second win on the bounce against a resilient Newcastle United FC on Saturday. Liverpool’s second straight win, following up their Merseyside derby victory over Everton, did not look like a rare oddity as the Reds remained the only team to defeat the Magpies, who boast the best defence in the Premier League this season.
Coming into the match, Liverpool were on the back of their Merseyside derby win and needed another positive result to stay on track to claim a Champions League spot come season end, while Newcastle had been on a 17-game unbeaten streak, the last three of were draws however, and were looking for the three points.
The Magpies dominated initial proceedings, however, Liverpool, who have been shaky all season and have been the team to concede first on most occasions, kept their calm as the pressure piled on. Liverpool keeper Alisson was also called into action quickly in the game. But it was Liverpool who took the lead in the 10th minute as the often criticized new boy Darwin Nunez grabbed his first goal in a long while.
Nunez was played in by a delicious Trent Alexander-Arnold ball over the top which he controlled well to blast past keeper Nick Pope to put Liverpool in front. Minutes after that, January arrival Cody Gakpo, who had a quiet outing before the Everton game, scored for the second game running to extend Liverpool’s lead to two goals.
However, that was not the highlight of the first in which Newcastle keeper Nick Pope was shown a straight red card for handling the ball outside his area. Pope had come up as the Magpies were on the attack, but when Liverpool keeper Alisson got hold of the ball and played it out to Mohammed Salah, Pope was left in no man’s land. In a bid to clear the ball with his head near the halfway line, he inadvertently touched the ball with his hands with the referee brandishing a straight red card.
Having gone down to 10-men, Newcastle did not give up though with their best performance coming after they were reduced in numbers. The Magpies kept on pushing even as Liverpool managed to create their own chances, but the game ended 2-0 in favour of the Reds.
Liverpool have now recorded two wins on the trot after their crucial derby win over Everton and followed it up by inflicting only their second defeat of the season on Newcastle, both of which have come against Liverpool. In their two wins, Liverpool also looked convincing and their midfield also looks to have taken shape after it was sliced open easily on numerous accounts in the season so far. For Liverpool, Stefan Bajcetic has been a revealation since being thrust into the first team.
In further good news for the Liverpool fans, Virgil van Dijk started after coming back in from injury. Although fellow team mates Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino were only second-half substitutes, these are promising times for Liverpool with Luis Diaz also slated for a return sooner rather than later.
With this win, Liverpool are now up to eighth with a loss for Brighton and Tottenham playing into their hands as they look to mount a late bid for the top four. Elsewhere, fellow top four aspirants Chelsea fell to a humiliating 1-0 loss at the hands of bottom-side Southampton, even with heavy investment into the side in the January transfer window.
At the top of the table, Arsenal regained their top spot with a late victory over Aston Villa. Having led twice in the match, Villa led by former Gunners boss Unai Emery fell to a 4-2 defeat after a late double from the Gunners. Meanwhile, defending champions Manchester City lost ground after being held to a 1-1 draw by Nottingham Forest.