A 2,000th top-flight win, a new club record and a thunderbolt

Talking pointsA 2,000th top-flight win, a new club record and a thunderbolt

Published 16th December 2021

Liverpool kept up their pursuit at the Premier League summit by grinding out a 3-1 victory over Newcastle United on Thursday night.

First-half strikes from Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah were followed up by a sumptuous Trent Alexander-Arnold sealer to ensure the Reds remained within a point of leaders Manchester City having initially gone behind to Jonjo Shelvey’s precise opener.

Highlights: Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle

Here are six talking points from the action at Anfield…

Bouncing back again

For the second time in the last three matches, Liverpool fell behind – on this occasion after just seven minutes to a clinical finish from the edge of the box by former Reds midfielder Shelvey.

But just as they did the previous midweek at AC Milan, Jürgen Klopp’s team calmly and methodically set about overturning their deficit and, indeed, hauled themselves back in front by the midway point of the half.

On his return to the starting XI Jota levelled from close range when his initial header was clawed out by Martin Dubravka – the goal standing despite Newcastle’s protests with two players down inside the box – and within moments, Salah tucked home a second as Sadio Mane’s effort was repelled by Dubravka.

“We expect them fighting for absolutely everything,” the manager had warned ahead of the meeting with a side seeking to climb out of the relegation zone. “We have to make sure we are ready for that fight.”

And the hosts did need to fight to hold on to their three points during a second half in which the visitors rallied, but the Reds eventually confirmed the success courtesy of Alexander-Arnold’s thunderbolt three minutes from the end.

Klopp’s men also maintained an outstanding record in league football during December, their last top-flight loss during the month coming in 2016 (27 wins, seven draws).

Saving the best until last

Alexander-Arnold: I've waited five years to strike one like that!
16th December 2021

ReactionAlexander-Arnold: I've waited five years to strike one like that!Trent Alexander-Arnold was delighted to ‘catch one sweet’ as his sensational long-range strike wrapped up a 3-1 win for Liverpool against Newcastle United.

Alexander-Arnold’s set-piece wizardry has become a chief weapon in his arsenal, but here he did not require a dead-ball situation to produce shooting magic.

Collecting a pass back to him around 25 yards from goal, the right-back used one touch to set himself and a second to wallop a blistering drive that was still rising as it crashed past the outstretched glove of Dubravka and into the top left corner of the Newcastle goal.

It was a strike worthy of settling any fixture and it finally put this one to bed, fittingly with the sweetest piece of play of the night.

“I’ve been waiting for that for five years now, waiting to hit it clean like that,” said Alexander-Arnold with a smile post-match. “I’ve had a few from the edge of the box and I’ve dragged them and things like that. I’ve caught that one sweet and it’s nestled in the top corner.”

An English football first

Thursday’s comeback victory over the Magpies brought up a magnificent milestone for Liverpool: the 2,000th top-flight win in the club’s history.

The Reds are the first English team ever to reach that landmark, which came in their 4,227th such match (1,047 draws and 1,180 defeats).

There was an additional flourish for the manager specifically in the form of his 150th league win since taking charge of the club in October 2015.

Reflecting his side’s relentlessness in the division for the majority of his tenure, Klopp has brought up that total in 12 games fewer than any of his predecessors in the dugout, bettering Sir Kenny Dalglish, who got to the mark in 2011.

Salah strikes yet again

There was zero doubt of the outcome to follow when Mane’s poke at goal was pushed out to Salah on 25 minutes, and the Egyptian duly delivered the finishing touch.

Liverpool’s No.11 has now scored or assisted a goal in each of his last 15 Premier League appearances and thereby equalled the record set by Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy in 2015.

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Salah is the first Red to net in five successive Anfield league meetings with Newcastle, moving clear of Roger Hunt (four from 1961 to 1967).

It’s now 22 goals in 23 games for the forward this season, including 15 in the Premier League that have him six clear of Jota and Vardy in the race for the Golden Boot.

Simply unstoppable.

Another record tumbles

Breaking records has been a regular habit for this team under Klopp and another long-standing effort was outstripped by the current Reds crop when Jota netted the equaliser on 21 minutes.

The forward’s rebound finish meant Liverpool had scored for a 32nd consecutive match in all competitions, with Real Madrid the last team to claim a clean sheet against them, back in mid-April.

This run is now the best in club history, overtaking the previous tally of 31 achieved between April 1957 and January 1958.

Their overall total for the campaign stands at 70 goals so far, already rapidly closing in on the 97 they mustered across the entirety of 2020-21.

The status at the summit

So, at the end of the day, it is as you were at the top of the Premier League with the Reds still a point behind the pace-setters, Manchester City, who beat Leeds United 7-0 on Tuesday.

Klopp’s men did open up an increased gap of three points to Chelsea below them, however, as Thomas Tuchel’s side were held by Everton at Stamford Bridge elsewhere on the night.

Seventeen games played and there’s very little to split the contenders.

Published 16th December 2021