Reds operating in staggeringly high stratosphere to make record looks routine
Liverpool defeated Newcastle United 3-1 in the Premier League as Paul Gorst gives his verdict on another victory for Jurgen Klopp's team
By Paul Gorst Liverpool FC correspondent
11:59, 15 SEP 2019
This, is a Liverpool team with rare gifts. It is one that knows, in absolute terms, that it has the mentality, strength and ability to respond to any surprise setback thrown its way.
Such was the case here at Anfield as Newcastle took a shock lead to punish what had been a sluggish start from the current Champions League holders on Saturday afternoon.
An ultimately routine 3-1 was enough to stretch the winning sequence in England’s top-flight to 14 successive games and it never looked in doubt once the Reds had livened up before the half-hour mark.
Only Arsenal in 2002 and Man City in both 2017 and 2019 have put together as lengthy a run previously in the Premier League. Victory at Chelsea next Sunday will see Jurgen Klopp’s charges take the record outright.
This is the staggeringly high stratosphere in which they now operate as a matter of routine.
Liverpool, who were defending a 42-game unbeaten Premier League home record before kick-off, were admonished for starting with something of an international break hangover when Jetro Willems slammed home with his unfavoured right foot.
The former PSV full-back was a Champions League regular during his time with the Dutch side and made his quality tell with a rocket which seemed to stun everyone inside Anfield bar a jubilant away support.
Caught cold, Liverpool stuttered and spluttered and belatedly flicked on the switch after 25 minutes. Andy Robertson's purposeful run left Sadio Mane with time and space to pick his shot before he curled an effort right into the top corner to give Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka no chance.
From then, the European champions gradually kicked into gear. Roberto Firmino was summoned for, after Origi was forced off through injury and Mane had his second 12 minutes after the leveller. This time, the Senegal superstar didn't need the brilliance his first required as he chased on to a threaded pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain before Dubravka fumbled into his path. Mane had the simplest tasks of tapping home and giving the Reds the lead their dominance deserved. With 20 goals in 2017/18 and 26 in all competitions last time out - including a 22-goal haul that saw him share the Golden Boot - Mane is now up to a half-dozen already for the current campaign.
The former Southampton man perhaps doesn't grab the attention in the same way of Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, or maybe even Firmino, but there is no doubting his importance to this Liverpool side. This Liverpool side with serious designs on winning a first league title for 30 years.
Mane's consistent displays over the past two years must have surely catapulted the 27-year-old into the upper echelons of world football by now. Where he ranks among the planet's best is a healthy debate for another day.
Gini Wijnaldum nearly scored one of the goals of Liverpool's season when he cushioned Robertson's cross with a first touch, before volleying on to the roof of the net as the home side chased a third after the break.
Trent Alexander-Arnold could - and probably should - have made it 3-1 when he scampered clean through moments later, but Dubravka turned it around the post for a corner.
Liverpool battered down the door in search of the third with Firmino in particular going through some of his party pieces, but the Reds found the Magpies' goalkeeper in miserly mood, despite creating a number of opportunities.
Firmino saved his most extravagant piece as an assist for a rampaging Salah, who cleanly dispatched it past Dubravaka after some truly exceptionally footwork from his Brazilian team-mate.
The Brazil striker rolled it onto his other foot before back-heeling it directly into Salah's path, who took it past a despairing Fabian Schar with his searing pace before calmly finishing.
Firmino continued in a similar vein after the goal. The Newcastle defenders might as well have tried to catch smoke given how ineffective their efforts were at thwarting the elusive Selecao star. His quicksilver evasion techniques continually saw him finding space away from the visiting defence. It was a joy to watch the Liverpool No.9 run through his bag of tricks.
Another threaded pass almost got Salah in as a hungry Reds side fought for the fourth inside the final 10 minutes before a simply gorgeous flick put his team-mate in again in the closing stages.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson and Andy Robertson have all queued up of late to talk up the importance of their striker , and once more, he showed exactly why there is no other centre-forward with his particular skillset around.
When Firmino purrs, so do Liverpool and his arrival was once more the catalyst for an improved performance from the league leaders, in the same way he changed the Super Cup in Istanbul last month.
With the points in the bag, the Kop, emboldened by Firmino and co, went through their songbook before settling on their current favourite in injury time.
Liverpool, top of the league, they roared in the dying embers. It's becoming a familiar refrain from the Anfield faithful.
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