Newcastle United lost 2-0 away at Liverpool on Saturday evening.
Newcastle United's four-game unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday evening as they were beaten 2-0 away at Liverpool without ever really troubling the Reds.
The Magpies suffered disappointment last weekend having squandered a 2-0 lead at Bournemouth to draw 2-2, but didn't really threaten to cause a shock at Anfield as Liverpool were in cruise control.
After a frustrating first 40 minutes, Liverpool opened the scoring as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stole possession and drove forward before picking out Mohamed Salah, with the Egyptian firing through Martin Dubravka for his 24th league goal of the season.
Mohamed Diame tested Loris Karius with a shot from the edge of the box, but it was game over on 55 minutes as neat passing play saw Roberto Firmino slip in Sadio Mane, and the Senegal international smashed home the second for Liverpool in a 2-0 win.
The result leaves Newcastle 16th in the Premier League table, just two points clear of the relegation zone as manager Rafael Benitez continues to plug on with a squad still largely containing players who were in the Championship last season.
However, it's one of Benitez's signings who is receiving criticism from fans, as Mikel Merino – signed on loan from Borussia Dortmund last summer and then permanently for £7million in October (Chronicle) – struggled at Anfield.
The Spanish midfielder has struggled with a back injury of late, and looked short of match fitness and confidence in the defeat to Liverpool, which fans certainly didn't miss.
Supporters took to Twitter to slam Merino's display, suggesting that he looks like half the player Newcastle signed in 2017, even claiming that his performances have been noticeably worse sine signing permanently.
Merino looks half the player he was when he first signed, looks very lazy and lacks fight, needs to step up with Shelvey missing #NUFC— Tom Hunter (@tom_hunter98) March 4, 2018
Worst thing the toon did was give Merino a full time contract. He looked a proper player before he signed on the dotted line. #NUFC— Steven Brett (@brettsteven1) March 3, 2018
Gerrard ripping into Diame and Merino. 100% correct Merino didn't want to know about it today nor is he up to it. Dreadful. Shocking from an experience player like Diame too. Hopefully Rafa will light a few fires off them both. #nufc— Ciaran Neary (@CiaranNeary) March 3, 2018
Merino has been absolutely woeful today. No wonder he doesnt start at the moment. #NUFC— Jonny Pegler (@Jonnypeg89) March 3, 2018
Well, it’s safe to say the Merino hype has well and truly wore off. #NUFC— CompleteNUFC (@CompleteNUFC) March 3, 2018
Merino is like a little kid in a nursery. Dawdling around with no sense of urgency or concentration #nufc— Paul (@paulw4ke) March 3, 2018