Your move, Manchester City.
One of the benefits of the playing the early kickoff in a close title race—of which of there are vanishingly few for those watching from the wrong side of the Atlantic—is the chance for one side to put pressure on the other later in the same matchday.
Although a tricky fixture on paper, with Eddie Howe’s resurgent side coming into the game having won four on the spin on their way into the top half of the table, the Reds nonchalantly throttled their hosts in a performance that belied the scoreline.
“We deserved the win today,” Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp said after the speaking to BeIN Sports.
“We had to learn and adapt, but we controlled the game. I liked it a lot.”
After weathering some early pressure from the home side, the Merseysiders opened the scoring through a well-taken Naby Keita goal following a slick one-two with Diogo Jota.
“We scored a wonderful goal, and we could have scored more,” Klopp continued. “The performance was outstanding—so many good individual performances. I am happy.”
“Absolutely unbelievable,” the manager said of the goal scoerr, Keita.
“He’s not the tallest player but he was really big today. I loved it—the only way we can win games is if the boys perform.”
The St. James Park crowd took issue with a boisterous but fair tackle from James Milner in the lead up to the goal, with the vice-captain stretching to just win a 50-50 ball ahead of a Newcastle’s Fabian Scharr
“I saw it—if there was any foul, it was Schar on [Sadio] Mane! [in an earlier passage of play],” Klopp said.
It was an excellent and controlled performance from Liverpool, especially considering the number of key personnel decisions that saw the likes of Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, Ibrahima Konate and Trent Alexander-Arnold start the match on the bench.
Reds supporters will hope that the valuable rest for some of the club’s most crucial players will pay dividends as the race for an unprecedented quadruple comes down to the final weeks.