Liverpool defeated Newcastle United 4-0 in the Premier League on Boxing Day.
A 4-0 away defeat will naturally bring about criticism and Rafa Benitez was certainly questioned for Newcastle United’s performance against Liverpool on Boxing Day.
Newcastle were thoroughly outplayed during the game, with an early chance for Joselu and a late one for Sean Longstaff proving to be their only genuine opportunities.
But from the perspective of Jurgen Klopp, Newcastle did manage to stifle Liverpool in a way that prevented the Reds from playing the way they wanted to.
“We have played three times in a row now against teams who play with five at the back, but all of them still organised it differently, so that makes it pretty difficult,” Klopp is quoted as saying by the Chronicle. “Newcastle, for example, had two strikers, but they were pretty deep.
“What that means is that during the first half we protected them with the two ‘6s’, instead of with the two centre-halves, and it meant they cut off four players, so we only had six players offensively.
“That’s why we lost the ball more, and didn’t win the ball back as quickly as maybe we should [have done].”
Newcastle’s gameplan may have been working but was initially undone by poor marking on a quick corner, while it was a soft penalty that really killed the game off for them.
Neither of those can honestly be put down to Benitez’s choices before the game – it was one that just got away from them, as some will do when you’ve got the squad Newcastle do.
Their reliance on Benitez’s tactics rather than individual ability means that mistakes punish them hard, given that they lack the spark to threaten out of nowhere and usually require a shift in tactics.
That’s the situation Newcastle are in and likely will continue to be until they find adequate investment.