Rafa reunion joy for the Reds: Liverpool 2 – 0 Newcastle

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Rafa Benitez and Jurgen Klopp.

Jack Hallows analyses the weekend’s action as Liverpool ran out 2-0 victors against Newcastle, propelling them into second. 

I love Rafa Benitez, I really do but in this instance, I’m very glad to see him on the losing side.

I will admit I was slightly worried about this one; only Manchester City had managed to beat Newcastle in the Premier League since Christmas and Rafa is renowned for his defensive solidity and tactical approach to games. It didn’t help that the Spaniard was unbeaten against the Reds’ prior to this visit.

Our boys got the job done, however, and while the first half an hour was a laborious effort, the Reds never looked troubled and when Mohamed Salah found the net just before halftime, the result seemed a formality.

Reds bring up the double century as goals continue to flow

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200 Premier League goals under Jürgen Klopp in 97 games. Only Brendan Rodgers has done it faster (96).

That’s sensational. Absolutely sensational.

In Klopp’s first full season in charge, the Reds were the fourth highest scorers in the Premier League as they gunned in 78 goals – a stellar return by any standard – but look to be well on their way to smashing that number out the park this time around.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s strikes either side of half-time took the Reds to 67 Premier League goals from 29 games this campaign and on only two occasions have they been prevented from scoring.

The club also boasts the league’s tied highest goalscorer in Mo Salah with 24, another on double figures in Roberto Firmino (13) and while he hasn’t been at his best this season, Mane is only two away.

I am so very glad the days of us having a top scorer at the end of a season with just 9 Premier League goals to his name (Steven Gerrard in 2014/15) are far, far behind us.

Flying Karius

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I have to say it, I’ve been seriously impressed by Loris Karius these last three months or so.

I’ve been one of those fans who has vocally argued time and again that the club need a new number one this summer regardless of what happens but the German is doing his utmost best to prove me wrong.

A flying stop to deny Diame on the cusp of halftime is just the latest in a growing list of impressive saves that Karius has made in the last month or so to keep his side’s lead intact and for once, it’s beginning to feel like the Reds have a real presence between the sticks.

The presence of Virgil van Dijk, a more settled backline and a consistent run of games all seem to be factors in the former Mainz man’s growing confidence and it’s been great to see. Long may it continue.

The perfect warm-up for Old Trafford?

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It was no secret what Benitez’ game-plan was going to be last night.

Shut up shop, keep the spaces tight, force the Reds to play their way through and make them earn any efforts on goal they could muster.

While this has often been a highlighted weakness of Klopp’s men, the Reds managed to break the door down once again and just like away at Southampton last month, the game was a fairly routine 2-0.

While it’ll likely be a tougher task when the Reds visit Old Trafford next Saturday, the match just gone has provided Klopp with the perfect training exercise almost in that it’s likely Mourinho will set up in a very similar manner. The Portuguese manager loves to frustrate, annoy and look to knick something on the counter-attack.

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It’s positive for Liverpool that for the most part, they’ve dealt with this tactic well and that realistically if it weren’t for a certain Spanish goalkeeper at Anfield last time out, Matip’s close-range strike might well have been enough to see the Reds run out 1-0 winners.

It’s going to be a tougher task next weekend for sure but I for one am feeling confident.

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