Relegation-threatened Newcastle United snatch a point despite being dominated for long periods at Anfield…
The recent mass of positivity and optimism surrounding Liverpool took a double hit on Saturday when the news that defender Mamadou Sakho had failed a drugs test was followed swiftly by the dropping of two points against Newcastle United.
Sakho’s infringement for an illegal weight control substance is likely to result in a lengthy ban and the French international will not feature again in the short-term either whilst UEFA investigate the matter.
On the pitch, it appeared to be business as usual as the Reds strolled into a 2-0 lead against Rafa Benitez‘s struggling Newcastle United at Anfield.
However, goals from England duo Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana were cancelled out in the second half by the visitors, who struck back via Papiss Cissé and Jack Colback.
Frustratingly for Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, it was the third time in recent months his side had effectively thrown away victory from such a position.
Back in February, Newcastle’s North East neighbours and fellow relegation battlers Sunderland also left L4 with a share of the spoils, despite trailing by two goals with less than 10 minutes to play.
More recently, Southampton went a step further and overcome a two-goal half-time deficit to win 3-2 as Liverpool capitulated at St Mary’s in alarming fashion.
With those extra seven points under their belt, Klopp’s men would currently be in 5th, two points behind Manchester City and Arsenal but with a game in hand and a very real chance of achieving a Champions League qualifying place.
As it is, they remain seventh and needing a Europa League triumph to ensure a return to the European elite next season; a task now made even more difficult by the loss of Sakho.
Analysing Saturday’s encounter with the Magpies at his post-match press conference, Klopp remarked: “We did really, really well in the first half against a highly-motivated side in their situation. Now they are happy with a point but before the game they maybe thought they could win against Liverpool at Anfield.
“In the first half we were clearly the better team and we were clearly the better team in the second half too, only not around the two goals we conceded. Two shots on target and two goals – it sounds not too good and is not too good. But in this moment we have to accept it.
“We really did well in a lot of parts of the game. We cannot think about the reason [why we didn’t win] too much, to be honest. We have to carry on and work.
“Today, especially the first half was really good. In the second half after the draw, usually the game can change but it didn’t. We were still dominant and we played football. In an intensive game, after an intensive game, against a rested opponent, we did really well.
“But you then need a little bit of luck in decisive moments; it’s an inch on the boot and the ball goes there. We had this penalty situation [with Sturridge] – I think it was a clear penalty.
“2-2 feels not too good but we have to accept it and we can accept it.”
Liverpool’s next fixture is in Spain on Thursday night when they face Villarreal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final.
In addition to Sakho, the absence of Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Divock Origi through injury means Klopp will effectively be without the spine of the team that has served him so well in recent weeks.
So that’s what both us and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below…
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