Liverpool will finish 2020 in top-spot but they rounded off the year in the most underwhelming manner. The Reds were held to a rare goalless draw at Newcastle United.
It’s worth noting that Liverpool’s most recent performance was an improvement on the dour encounter against West Brom last week. The Reds had chances this time out but couldn’t finish to save their lives.
Liverpool have managed just one goal in their previous two matches. Against West Brom, the Reds could barely fathom an opening.
A lack of goals is a concern. Even more so, is how many points Liverpool have surrendered on the road.
Liverpool now lead the league standings in terms of draws, after all. Their away record is woeful, with just two wins from eight.
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What was particularly frustrating last night, was the manner in which Liverpool slipped up. There is no question that this a game the Reds would have found a way to win last season.
It was a match begging for an injection of quality from the likes of Diogo Jota. Liverpool needed a player capable of seizing the moment when it mattered – something the front-three lacked in abundance against Newcastle.
Too often, the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino lacked cutting edge in front of goal. The former in particular was a shaddow of his usual self at St James’ Park.
He squandered two golden opportunities and was a peripheral figure from start-to-finish – he managed just 28 touches on the ball.
It was telling how much of a miss Jota was in Liverpool’s final match of 2020. Even off the bench, his recent incisiveness and clincal edge up-top would have added something that was lacking from the front-three.
After all, with nine goals in nine league and European starts, the evidence suggests Jota could have made a difference.
Since his £41 million [BBC] arrival and subsequent explosion onto the scene, Liverpool’s goalscoring prowess have never looked better. Without him, the struggles are there to see.
Indeed, he will return soon. Club officials have indicated he could be back as early as February. He has missed Liverpool’s previous five matches with a knee injury.
At this present moment, Liverpool need more incisiveness and quality up-top. A lack of ruthlessness in front of goal cannot continue to hurt the team.
Luckily for Liverpool, they have the chance to put matters right quickly ahead of the trip to Southampton next Monday. After all, Liverpool haven’t dropped points in three successive matches since October 2017.
Beware Southampton. You don’t want to stand in the way of a resurgent Liverpool looking to prove a point.