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Opinion

Don’t Panic…

10 months ago
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Liverpool 4 Newcastle 0  – Wednesday 26 December 3pm

We asked Ben Cooper to give us his match ratings after yesterday afternoon’s match.

A predictable defeat but one that was at least partly self-inflicted.

The club now 15th in the table and five points clear of relegation.

Dubravka – 6: 

Not one of his finest performances though he did little wrong.

He made some decent saves in what was at times an onslaught, but he didn’t dominate his box against a team who can take a set-piece much better than we can and were a constant threat in his six-yard area.

The fourth goal was an example, a header from a corner inside the six-yard box and he was nowhere. Neither were his defence though and I know he isn’t the sort of keeper who comes flying out and takes everything, he just needed to be today. A consistent performer all the same.

Yedlin – 5:  

I can’t remember that he did a lot wrong.

He wasn’t in the game going forward but in my drunken haze I also can’t remember any of the goals being scored because he wasn’t in position or made a mistake.

The reality of his performance was that apart from a cross for a Joselu miss I hardly noticed him. Against Liverpool, that puts him amongst our top performers unfortunately.

Dummett – 5: 

Constantly caught out of position in what was a very fragile back ‘3’. He was unlucky giving away the penalty in that it was the slightest of touches which Salah blatantly dived thirty minutes after. He was stupid giving away the penalty in that he put his arm on a forward who loves a tumble in the penalty area at Anfield.

You would expect Dummett to at least know our history with this. He tried though, never gave up and looked knackered in the second half after a long lay-off.

He was out of his depth given his fitness but all things considered he was no means our worst player. Perhaps our most naïve.

Lascelles – 3: 

Struggled throughout.

His poor header for Lovren’s goal was indicative of a man who looked like he didn’t know what he was doing.

His heading throughout was nervous, his use of the ball even worse, giving the ball away on numerous occasions.

I might suggest that either off-field nonsense or captaincy is having a greater effect on his performances than he admits, or the formation changes don’t suit him. Either way, he hasn’t been very good this season and this was one of his worse performances in a poor season so far.

liverpool 4 newcastle 0

‘Lascelles: Stupid Boy’

Fernandez – 6: 

One of our better players. Always looks composed on the ball, always good in the tackle and well organised.

He let himself down with a feeble diving header in the build up to the third goal, and getting caught late on with a sixty-yard ball over his head to give Mane a chance, but overall he was by far our best defender and very little of this defeat was his fault.

Ritchie – 6: 

Completely out of position for much of the game defensively, there was a constant stream of attacks down his wing. That was probably because his only cover was the fluttering Kenedy and wilting Dummett.

In attack he was our best player, virtually every chance we created was down to Ritchie’s endeavor or quality of crossing and set-pieces.

I didn’t watch MOTD, but I presume when we had the ball, then he had the ball. For that he gets my man of the match.

Replaced by the anonymous Murphy for the last ten minutes, though what Murphy was expected to do with that mess I don’t know (Murphy 4).

Hayden – 5:

Played where Ki had played in the last few matches on the right of the ‘3’.

He hasn’t got the distribution, experience or season game-time of Ki so I wasn’t expecting much more than he would give his all defensively. The game largely passed him by but as nothing more than another body in the way he did ok.

He missed a decent chance in the middle part of the second half which was disappointing but I’m not going to berate him for not being good enough to do what was required at the highest level, especially given what was around him and how much he has played this season.

liverpool 4 newcastle 0

‘We’re Diamed’

Diame – 5:

Defensively, I thought he was committed, strong and positive against a Liverpool team who gave him a lot to do. He can be a powerhouse and was the pick of our defensive midfield. His passing is woeful though and his ability in the air is laughable.

For his defending he would have got man of the match, but you can’t give such plaudits to someone who concedes the fourth goal like he did, with such weakness and lack of desire. Someone who can’t play a ten-yard pass to a colleague, not even once, consistently mis-placing his passes.

Tiote used to be awful on the ball without Cabaye to give it to so I am aware of Diame’s role and that he had no one to give the ball too. The ‘5’ I am giving him puts him above any of the other 5s in this match because what he did well was better than what Kenedy and Hayden did well. He wins the ball and gives it away. 5 for winning it. 0 for giving it away.

Kenedy – 5:

In the midfield central three he took up the role which Atsu had played in the last few games. I thought at times he ran well with the ball. Very little came of it because he had no support and Liverpool are strong defensively in the middle, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate him trying and I think this was far from his worst performance.

He was the only one of the central three who had a go to unlock the scouse rearguard. He was looking at the bench from the hour begging to get taken off and to be fair this time I don’t blame him, he was expected to do it all on his own at Anfield.

He finally got the hook with less than 20 minutes left and he looked super chuffed about it too.

Longstaff – 4:

Came on for Kenedy.

Looks like he needs a bit of sunshine but there wasn’t a lot of it about today.

He missed a chance to score at Anfield and joins 2,087 other Newcastle players on a depressingly predictable list of almosts.

Did he look like a player who could play in the Premier League? No. Was he out of place in our team? No.

Muto – 5: 

Like Kenedy I thought he was capable of being a threat to the Liverpool defence, he just didn’t show it very much. I don’t doubt his effort or in many respects his ability but a stop-start season is no good to NUFC at this time.

If we stay up, he might be better next season, but at the moment he gives too little too many times to be effective.

His direct running often makes defenders uneasy but like Kenedy, when he was running he had no support today and inevitably lost the ball.

Missed a good headed chance in the first half which might have given him and us more confidence.

Joselu – 2: 

The Andrew Ridgeley to Muto’s George Michael. Only there for moral support or for show.

There is no point on having this man on the pitch at any time. There must be someone else who can do what Joselu did for most of this game, ran around, lost the ball the few times he got it, had no effect on the game.

There was a point in the second half when he bustled into Van Dijk, made the space to win a header, forgot to look at the ball while Van Dijk kept his eye on it and Liverpool regained possession. Honestly, even Tony Cunningham was better than that.

This was Joselu at his worst. I didn’t expect him to take the chance in the second half, it was a tough header at a difficult angle. The one after eight minutes? Ciaran Clark would have scored it. Play him up front. Even when Clark is injured.

Joselu: 2 and that’s being generous. The ‘2’ is because we know how bad he is. Even by his own standards in this match he was awful.

Rafa – 3:

I would love to know what he was thinking for this game.

Most of our players looked completely uncomfortable with this formation and their position in it.

It got the worst out of most of them, certainly with the state of their fitness, confidence and experience I think Yedlin, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden, Kenedy and Muto would have been better served in a formation which had ‘4’ at the back. Or at least a formation which they knew.

Rafa knows better than me tactically, but with Ki and Shelvey missing and Hayden in, we had no one in midfield who could pass or keep the ball.

When Ritchie, Kenedy and Muto ran with the ball, which is fine, our defensive players were over-running them, which isn’t because when they lost the ball, which they do, we were hopelessly out of shape against a very good attacking team. I expected the team to have worked on all of this.

Dummett was pulled all over the shop by their attack, often out on the wing. We had no plan on the ball, often leaving it to Lascelles to distribute, our worst defensive player with the ball at his feet.

We again had no plan in attack, nothing that would test Liverpool’s back line. At one point in the second half it looked like we had gone to 4-4-2 but only half of the players knew.

I have marked these players individually with some compassion but as a team they were clueless, they looked like they did not know what to do or how to do it.

Rafa is the most talented individual at the club in his position. At Anfield he was our worst performer and NUFC looked under-prepared. Pardew territory that. 3 (couldn’t give him less than Joselu, even relatively speaking).

Stats from BBC Sport:

Liverpool 4 Newcastle 0

Goals:

Liverpool: Lovren 11, Salah 47 pen, Shaqiri 79, Fabinho 85

Possession was Liverpool 76% Newcastle 24%

Total shots were  Liverpool 16 Newcastle 6

Shots on target were Liverpool 8 Newcastle 2

Corners were  Liverpool 10 Newcastle 2

Referee: Graham Scott

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie (Murphy 81), Hayden, Diame, Kenedy (Longstaff 73), Muto, Joselu

Unused Subs:

Woodman, Perez, Rondon, Manquillo, Schar

Crowd: 53,318 (Newcastle 3,000)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the 4-0 defeat – Read HERE)

(After 4-0 hammering Rafa Benitez reveals no signings lined up for January – Read HERE)

(BBC Sport pundits say Mohamed Sala cheated to help Liverpool beat Newcastle – Read HERE)

(3 positives and 3 negatives from Liverpool 4 Newcastle 0 – Read HERE)

(Sky Sports pundit says Rafa has to be given January transfer cash if Newcastle are to avoid relegation – Read HERE)
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