Liverpool 4-2 Newcastle: ‘Potential champions’ impress but facing spell without Mohamed Salah

1 January 2024 0 By Total Football News

With the highest expected goals in Premier League history and the joint-highest shots on goal this season, Liverpool are clicking into gear and developing into serious title challengers.

A busy summer transfer window, where they effectively rebuilt their midfield after the departures of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, meant manager Jurgen Klopp probably did not expect his side to be top of the table on the opening day of 2024.

But, after only one defeat in their opening 20 games, they are.

A 4-2 win over Newcastle in a relentless and chaotic game, amid the wild rain and wind at Anfield, leaves Liverpool with a three-point lead over second-placed Aston Villa.

They are five points clear of defending champions Manchester City, who have a game in hand, and Arsenal.

“That is Liverpool’s best performance of the season,” said former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports.

“Massive for Liverpool. Big result. That performance was absolutely outstanding.

“There’s been a lot of Premier League seasons but I can’t think of too many that have been as thrilling at the halfway stage as we have now, and so many teams in the title race.”

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville said: “If you told Klopp at the start of the season that they would be a few points clear at the top, they wouldn’t have believed, but now they can start to believe.

“They are potential champions just because of where they are. Their manager is a sensational manager who knows how to do it and they’ve got three or four players that are world-class.

“If they get into that run-in, they’ll probably be the one team that Manchester City don’t want against them because they know they’ve actually beat them before.”

‘What a firework’

Liverpool attempted a joint league-high 34 shots against Newcastle and had an xG of 7.27 – the highest in a Premier League game since records began in 2010-11.

They were relentless throughout, are unbeaten in 22 games at Anfield and have lost only one of their past 52 home league games.

“It was a sensational game from my team,” Klopp told BBC Sport. “Super game. I loved so many aspects of the game bar the goals we conceded.”

He told Sky Sports: “There was only one winner tonight. Football is like that.

“Around the two goals we conceded, the game was absolutely exceptional. What a firework.

“We played through Newcastle, around Newcastle, behind Newcastle. We had chances from everywhere.”

Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring against NewcastleMohamed Salah is Liverpool’s top scorer this season with 18 goals in all competitions

How big a loss will ‘goalscoring machine’ Salah be?

Liverpool now face a run of fixtures without Mohamed Salah, who will go to the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt.

The final of that competition is on 11 February, so if Egypt go all the way then Salah could miss eight games for Liverpool if they progress in the FA Cup.

That run includes Arsenal in the FA Cup third round on Sunday, and in the Premier League on 4 February.

There is also the two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final against Fulham and league games against Bournemouth, Chelsea and Burnley.

Salah is Liverpool’s top scorer with 18 in all competitions this season. He has also set up eight goals for team-mates.

Against Newcastle, despite missing a first-half penalty, he scored twice and passed 150 top-flight goals for Liverpool, with Klopp describing him as a “goalscoring machine”.

There is no doubt Salah will be a huge miss for Klopp’s side, but they have fared well without him in the past.

They are unbeaten in all 10 Premier League games in which Salah has not appeared, since he joined in 2017-18.

“I want to win [the Africa Cup of Nations],” Salah told Sky Sports. “It means a lot to play for the national team. It’s something I cannot take for granted. I would love to win it.”

Salah says Liverpool are well equipped to deal without him, adding: “We have some really good players. We have players who can play in my position.

“We believe a lot. We need to work hard and express ourselves on the field. If we manage to do that then we can keep winning.”

How to follow Liverpool on the BBC banner
Liverpool banner footer