Liverpool v Newcastle United: Live matchday blog
Liverpool moved six points clear at the top of the Premier League table after beating Newcastle United 4-0 at Anfield on Boxing Day.
Dejan Lovren opened the scoring in the first half before Mohamed Salah (penalty), Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho all struck after the break to seal the win.
Jürgen Klopp's verdict
"A pretty perfect day for us; not a perfect performance, but a really good performance. Result-wise and a lot of parts of the performance, really good."
'I'd normally hit that into the stand!'
Dejan Lovren explained his crisply-struck opening goal to LFCTV: “It was quite difficult to catch the ball, to be honest. Usually it’s a ball to kick into the stand, like defending a set-piece for me.
“But luckily enough, I did it, I scored. It’s always great to score for Liverpool and hopefully we can do it again in the next couple of games because we need everyone now."
Our first goalscorer today - Dejan Lovren - has been speaking to BBC Sport...
"We just focused on ourselves and it's game by game for us. Every game is a final for us. It was a tough opening first half - it's difficult to score against Newcsatle but we showed patience and quality
"We need to keep this momentum and after the next couple of games we will see where we are. Every game now matters.
"We just look at ourselves, how we perform and this is what the manager wants from us. The rest will happen. It's a good day for us, good for the fans and let's do it again against Arsenal."
Here's how the top of the Premier League table is looking tonight - and the Reds are six points clear...
The story of the game in Opta stats and widgets...
Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle
The Reds remain clear at the top of the Premier League after a comprehensive defeat on Newcastle United at Anfield on Boxing Day.
Dejan Lovren opened the scoring after 11 minutes with a wonderful half-volley before strikes from Mohamed Salah (penalty), Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho confirmed the win in the second period.
Alisson produces a brilliant save way out of position to deny Longstaff after he'd sprang from his line to thwart a counter.
Three minutes of added time to be played...
Mane races in behind to meet a long ball forward and cracks an effort narrowly over the crossbar.
The Brazilian adds gloss to the scoreline by heading in his first goal for the club from a Salah corner.
4-0 at Anfield now and this place is bouncing.
The final change for the hosts - Robertson makes way for Clyne.
GOAL! XHERDAN SHAQIRI
The Reds have a third as Shaqiri sweeps in Alexander-Arnold's low ball across the box.
Newcastle make a chance as Longstaff comes on for Kenedy.
Sturridge comes on for Firmino.
Liverpool change - Wijnaldum makes way for Fabinho.
Joselu glances a header wide of the far post for the visitors.
Shaqiri sends Mane scampering into space inside the box. He tries to square it across the six-yard box, but Lascelles manages to scramble it away.
GOAL! MOHAMED SALAH!
The Egyptian King makes no mistake from the spot!
2-0 to the Reds!
Penalty to Liverpool
Dummett trips Salah and the Reds have a spot kick.
Back under way...
Newcastle re-start the game at Anfield.
The tale of the first-half tape...
Liverpool 1-0 Newcastle United
Dejan Lovren's magnificently-struck 11th-minute goal is the difference at the break at Anfield.
Dubravka has to push a well-struck free-kick from Shaqiri over the crossbar. Unlucky.
Henderson lifts a half-volley well over Dubravka's goal from 20 yards.
Mane heads Shaqiri's diagonal ball back into the path of Van Dijk, but he's challenges as he goes to pull the trigger.
Alexander-Arnold sends an inviting low ball across the Newcastle box, but no-one in Red can quite reach it.
Ritchie skews one well wide of Alisson's goal after Newcastle won the ball back high up the pitch.
Sadio Mane threatens twice in quick succession.
Firstly, Alexander-Arnold's throughball almost sends him clean through as the Reds' counter from a corner.
Then, Firmino's lofted pass is chested down by Mane as he breaks clear, but his touch takes it too close to Dubravka.
GOAL! DEJAN LOVREN!
Wow, what a finish that is!
Robertson hangs a cross up from the left after a short corner and it's nodded back in the direction of Lovren by Lascelles' attempt to clear. The centre-back absolutely cracks a right-foot volley into the top corner from 12 yards out.
He couldn't have struck it any sweeter.
The Reds open up their opponents for the first time, but Shaqiri scuffs Mane's pull-back wide of the post from eight yards out.
Early chance for Newcastle as Ritchie's deep cross is headed down into the ground and bounces up over the crossbar from Joselu.
Trent Alexander-Arnold tries to release Salah down the right, but he can't quite pick out his run.
And we're off!
Mohamed Salah kicks us off at Anfield and we're under way.
Come on you Reds!
Here come the teams...
In the building
This was the Reds arriving at Anfield a short while ago...
Behind closed doors...
Klopp on team selection
The manager has spoken ahead of the game and explained why James Milner and Alberto Moreno are not included in the matchday squad.
"It's not that serious but still serious enough to put him out of the squad today," he said of the former.
"Millie has a little muscle problem so we couldn't fix it quick enough, obviously, similar to Alberto Moreno [who has] some back problems."
Here's how Opta expect the teams to shape up...
There are three changes for Liverpool against Newcastle, including the return of Trent Alexander-Arnold from injury. Georginio Wijnaldum and Xherdan Shaqiri also start.
James Milner is ruled out due to a hamstring injury.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Shaqiri, Mane, Salah, Firmino.
Subs: Mignolet, Clyne, Fabinho, Keita, Sturridge, Lallana, Origi.
What are the odds?
BetVictor has the answer...
Liverpool - 2/11
Draw - 7/1
Newcastle - 19/1
Click here for more details.
Apologies for the tardiness of our official weather update™ today. Let us right that wrong now.
It's a milder afternoon in L4 than you might have expected, but our advice would be to wear a coat in case of more troublesome conditions beyond the 3pm GMT kick-off. Hat and gloves are an optional extra, as ever.
Klopp's Rafa respect
The boss has reiterated his respect for Benitez in his matchday programme notes today.
"I really love the affection and respect our club has for Rafa and the appreciation towards him for what he has given LFC. The word 'legend' might be overused these days, particularly in sport, but for Rafa it's almost underselling him.
"When his name is mentioned at Melwood or Anfield or to any Liverpool supporter you see their face instantly fill with joy and love. They remember the amazing times and moments LFC enjoyed under his leadership and I think that is so cool.
"Of course, today friendship ceases on both sides for the 90-plus minutes our teams face each other.
"He remains, rightly, one of the most admired managers and coaches in Europe and his pedigree is simply outstanding. Maybe at the start of the season things were not so straightforward for them, but now Newcastle are a side who are unbelievably difficult to beat."
'We're never gonna stop'
That's the message from Naby Keita in the matchday programme.
“I think everyone is [happy], not just with our points total but with the standard of the performances too,” the No.8 says.
“What’s for sure, though, is we can’t ease up or relax for one minute between now and the end of the season. That’s really, really important. And if we can, we know that we need to keep going on the same sort of path that we’ve been on so far.
“We’re not going to let up until the end and we’ll give everything that we possibly can to try and win something this year.”
Boxing Day football at Anfield...
Show off with these factoids before kick-off...
- If Liverpool avoid defeat today, they will extend their unbeaten home record in the league to 30 games
- The Reds' next goal will be their 50th of the season in all competitions
- There has not been a goalless draw between these sides since February 1974 - a run of 64 meetings
- Benitez has managed the visiting team at Anfield on four previous occasions; W1, D2, L1
Fans Supporting Foodbanks on Boxing Day
Foodbank collections will take place at Anfield around this match, with supporters encouraged to make a donation at such a crucial time of year. Click here for more information on how you can help today.
Trent helps An Hour For Others
Liverpool's preparations for the clash with Newcastle United continued with training on Christmas Day but Alexander-Arnold also took time to help the local community and the An Hour For Others initiative...
Did you know?
Klopp could achieve the 100th win of his Liverpool reign today, in his 181st match in charge.
Important travel information
Supporters heading to Anfield for this afternoon's match should take note of some important travel information which may affect your journey. Click here for full details.
Klopp hopes to have Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita available today after both trained without issue on Monday. The Reds boss also reported no fresh injury concerns when he spoke to the media pre-match.
Before on Boxing Day
The Reds have a decent record on December 26...
- This match is Liverpool's 89th on Boxing Day
- Of the previous games, they have won 41, including 24 of 43 at Anfield
- The Reds are unbeaten in their last 11 home fixtures on Boxing Day
Tale of the tape
Pore over all of the numbers you could possibly need from each side's Premier League season so far with our Opta stats toolkit below...
The manager's view
Catch up with everything Klopp himself had to say about this game with our full video from his pre-match press conference on Christmas Eve...
Milner: We'll adapt to cope with Rafa
Jürgen Klopp expects Newcastle to play five at the back this afternoon but however the visitors approach it tactically, James Milner is confident Liverpool can find the answers.
"He'll set his team up and he'll no doubt watch a lot of our games so he'll know where he thinks our strengths and weaknesses are, so it's down to us to be able to adapt," the vice-captain told Liverpoolfc.com of Rafael Benitez.
"I think we've done that well this year, finding different ways to win games. You can't always play free-flowing, attacking football and be on the front foot for 90 minutes in every game.
"It'd be nice if you could be but you can't. You have to adapt and find a way to win and find the right way to play in each game, and that dictates how we play on the day but also how the opposition sets up and how the manager wants us to play.
"I think that's a good quality within the group. We have that, we have different ways of playing, we can play different formations, and we have a very strong squad with a lot of good players and also players who can play in different formations and styles of play."
Last time out
Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk were the goalscorers as the Reds moved clear last weekend and you can enjoy the best of the victory at Wolves again below...
Leading the way
Liverpool opened up a four-point lead at the Premier League summit courtesy of their 2-0 win at Wolves last time out, coupled with results elsewhere. Here's how things stand before today's hefty schedule across the country...
That's Christmas out of the way, let's get back to business!
We trust you've had your fill of turkey and chocolate, and now it's time for some festive football, with Liverpool set to host Newcastle United at Anfield in the Premier League today.
Stay right here for full coverage of the build-up, action and reaction as the Reds aim to reach the halfway point of the season still unbeaten.