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Four of the best statistics as Newcastle United held Liverpool to a battling draw

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Newcastle United

Jurgen Klopp endured an all-too familiar afternoon full of frustration as his Liverpool side were held to a draw against a disciplined and well-organised Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon.

Liverpool started off firmly on the front foot, with Georginio Wijnaldum striking the post on return to his former club, before Philippe Coutinho broke the deadlock with a sublime effort from 25-yards.

But their defensive frailties reared its head again when ex-Liverpool man Jonjo Shelvey found Joselu’s run with a superb defence-splitting ball and, with a huge slice of luck, Joel Matip’s recovery challenge deflected the ball back onto the Spaniard’s shin and past a despairing Simon Mignolet.

Klopp’s side picked up their dominance again after the break but they failed to carve out too many meaningful chances on goal, and the Magpies defended excellently to see out a well-deserved draw.

17 – Philippe Coutinho strikes from distance again

Where would Liverpool be without Philippe Coutinho?

After inspiring his side to a win on the road at Leicester City last weekend, the Brazilian turned on the style once again at St James’ Park as his excellent first-half strike secured a point for Liverpool.

It came in typical Coutinho fashion, working a yard of space by shifting the ball onto his right foot before unleashing a trademark hit right into the top corner, giving Rob Elliot no chance in the goal.

In doing so it signaled the 17th goal that he’s scored from outside of the penalty area since arriving at Anfield back in January 2013, a number that no other Premier League player can match.

With Sadio Mane, Daniel Sturridge and Mohamed Salah misfiring on Sunday the onus was on the Brazilian to conjure up a moment of magic, and he duly obliged in a typically brilliant way to bail his side out again – and Liverpool fans will be delighted he’s returned to form after his summer saga.

82 – Where’s the clinical edge?

Whilst Coutinho was adding another long-range effort to his already impressive highlights reel for the season, boss Jurgen Klopp would have left St James’ Park with a harrowing sense of déjà vu.

The Reds had 68% of the possession on Sunday, reflecting their pure dominance of the match, and they managed to get 17 shots away on goal but once again they failed to find that definitive impact.

Of these 17 shots only two were on target – with one being Coutinho’s goal – and for a Liverpool side that have aspirations of challenging for the Premier League title this year this simply isn’t good enough, particularly against a newly-promoted side who are still finding their feet in the top-flight.

Despite having the likes of Mane, Salah, Roberto Firmino and Coutinho in their ranks they’ve truly struggled to be clinical, and since beating Arsenal 4-0 they’ve had 82 shots and scored just five times.

Klopp re-jigged his team after the mid-week draw away at Spartak Moscow and brought Daniel Sturridge back into the fold but even he couldn’t find a way through, and there’s growing concerns at Anfield.

7 – Liverpool short-comings all too clear

If you’re Jurgen Klopp you must be tearing your hair out and wondering what you can do after yet another calamitous moment in defence cost Liverpool the chance to win three points at Newcastle.

The hosts had offered very little in an attacking sense during the opening 35 minutes – and they offered very little after – but a lapse of concentration allowed Joselu to steal in and find the net.

What Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip were doing leaving such a big gap in between them is anyone’s guess but it allowed Jonjo Shelvey to play a defence-splitting through ball to the Spaniard, who timed his run expertly, and it was almost comical how Matip’s tackle deflected the ball into the net.

It was all too easy for Newcastle and it’s now seven games without a clean sheet for Liverpool in all competitions – and it certainly won’t get any easier with Manchester United arriving in town next.

15 – Budding midfield partnership for Newcastle United

A lot of credit has to be heaped on Newcastle United and manager Rafael Benitez for how they went about the match, with the Magpies putting in an exceptional display of organisation and discipline.

Right at the heart of their efforts was the midfield duo of Jonjo Shelvey and Mikel Merino, a combination that Newcastle supporters have been dying to see since the start of the new season.

Their completely contrasting playing styles seemed to work against Liverpool, with Shelvey sitting deeper and protecting his back-line whilst Merino – signed on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund during the summer window – has a more attacking intent and looks to get into opposition territory.

The duo made four tackles, three interceptions, two clearances and six blocks between them in an excellent rear-guard effort to repel the visitors and they rarely left gaps open for the Reds to exploit.

They showed an excellent sense of positioning too, particularly to handle the movement of Liverpool’s attacking options, and perhaps more pertinent than anything they managed to keep their focus superbly throughout the 90 minutes – shown by Shelvey’s nerveless clearance off the line under pressure.

It was their first full match playing together and boss Benitez would have no doubt been impressed with what he saw, and it’ll now be interesting to see if he persists with them after the international break.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Everton

Liverpool fans will love who are favourites to sign Mario Balotelli

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Mario Balotelli
Photo: Getty Images.

Mario Balotelli is not a man who conjures up fond memories for Liverpool fans, but that could all be about to change if the betting is accurate in forecasting where he could move if he leaves OGC Nice this summer with one Premier League side leading the race to bring him back to England.

Whilst Serie A sides are the frontrunners in the betting to sign Mario Balotelli, there are also several English clubs in the mix, based on odds offered by Sky Bet. Favourites are the side that Liverpool fans would both find hilarious and dread in equal measure: Everton.

Odds on the controversial Italian moving to Goodison Park this summer are as low as 8/1, whilst West Ham are also in the running at 12/1.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The centre forward picked up more yellow cards, seven, than goals, four, during his time on Merseyside but has scored 39 goals in 61 games for his new club in France and insists he’s a new, mature man.

Italy still seems his most likely destination with Napoli and Juventus leading the odds, but a move to Everton would give Balotelli the chance to either redeem himself with Liverpool fans by failing as much as he did at Anfield, or rebuild his reputation in the country where he made his name with Manchester City.

The Toffees are desperate to add firepower up-front, but having been so disappointed by their business last summer it is hard to see how taking a gamble on a player as volatile as Balotelli would be a wise move.

That said, they know that the quality is clearly there within the player and may have the same hope as Brendan Rodgers did when he signed Balotelli for Liverpool, that they can bring him in cheap, get the best out of him and sell him on for a profit.

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English Premier League

Rhian Brewster deserves shot at Liverpool first-team next season

The Liverpool teenager deserves a shot ahead of Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi.

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Liverpool fans were rightly excited about England under-17s World Cup win in India last summer. Firstly, it was great to see the English national team doing well at some level. Secondly, one of their own players, Rhian Brewster, was on fire.

The teenage striker won the Golden Boot prize at the competition after scoring eight goals for his nation, including hat-tricks against both the USA and Brazil.

His performances rightly had Liverpool fans excited for the season ahead, but it came too soon for the youngster. Brewster then suffered an ankle injury in January that needed surgery.

(Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

However, despite his setback, it was reported last month by The Telegraph that Brewster will be promoted to the Liverpool first-team next season after his recovery period is over.

Rightly so. Liverpool should be ready to give the teenager his chance in the first-team at Anfield, as he has all the talent available to him to become a club goalscoring sensation.

In fact, if Liverpool want to be serious about him, they should ensure there are no blockages in his pathway.

The likes of Daniel Sturridge, currently on loan at West Brom, and Divock Origi, also on loan but at German side Wolfsburg, should no longer be considered ahead of Brewster in the pecking order.

Getting rid of the injury-prone Sturridge and Origi, who has struggled in the Bundesliga, will leave Brewster firmly in the mix for the striking position at Liverpool.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Roberto Firmino obviously remains the first choice. But Liverpool also have England’s under-20 goalscoring sensation from the summer in Dominic Solanke. With the hard-working Danny Ings also present, Brewster fits in nicely to the Liverpool striking fold.

Some might say he is too young. But people said that about Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler. The fact is, nobody will know until he is thrown into that position.

Liverpool fans are some of the more supportive and understanding in the country when it comes to young talent, and would have all the patience in the world for the young striker.

It is time to cut the deadwood and make room for the future to blossom.

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Bolton Wanderers

Trent Alexander-Arnold World Cup push is deja-vu for Jon Flanagan and Liverpool

The Liverpool defender has had his problems on and off the pitch but is performing well at Bolton Wanderers.

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Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has emerged as a late challenger for the England World Cup squad this summer. The teenage defender has been in incredible form for Liverpool in 2018.

His performances against Manchester City in both legs of the recent Champions League win earned mass praise and plenty of Liverpool fans are of the belief that Alexander-Arnold should be in the England squad.

It seems a bit like deja-vu from four years ago. Back then, England were again preparing for a World Cup – this time in Brazil. Once again, Liverpool were in fine form toward the end of that season and narrowly missed out on the Premier League title to Manchester City.

One of the main reasons for their excellent season was the form of young full-back Jon Flanagan. The then 21-year-old defender came in and solved Brendan Rodgers’ left-back problem with aplomb.

He featured in 25 games that season and pushed his way, much like Alexander-Arnold, into England contention.

(Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

In the summer, he was named on the England standby list for the World cup and made his debut in a warm-up game against Ecuador. This should have been the start of something brilliant for the young man.

But the four years since have been a disappointment for the Liverpool man.

That summer a build-up of fluid on his knee led to investigations which in turn led to corrective surgery. Flanagan went on to spend what should have been his crowning years on the treatment table. After spending 18 months on the sidelines he eventually returned, but to a new Liverpool.

Under Jurgen Klopp, first-team football was hard to find. He headed to Burnley on loan last season but found himself not able to break into the first-team at Turf Moor either.

Since that near World Cup miss, football has continuously kicked Flanagan while he has been down and he has also had well-documented problems off the pitch as well.

But there is now a glimmer of hope. In January the defender headed to Bolton Wanderers on loan, to try and help the Trotters fight off relegation to League One and put his recent problems behind him.

Now established as a first-team regular he is getting back to fine form.

Whilst it may come too late to salvage his Liverpool career, there does appear to be a future for Flanagan in the game.

A lot of bad luck has hit the defender so far, whilst his off-field issues have also not helped matters. But, hopefully, he can turn things around and build a career Liverpool fans thought he might back in 2014.

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