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Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle has given manager Jurgen Klopp a key tactical hint for the final five games of the Premier League season. After a mixed season which included six successive league defeats at Anfield, the Reds are battling for a place in next year’s Champions League.
A relatively kind fixture schedule for the rest of the campaign, their final four games are all against teams in the bottom half, is a major boost to their hopes of securing a top four place.
The draw with Newcastle has also handed Klopp a key hint of how to extract the maximum number of points from those games.
For the visit of the Magpies, the German surprisingly opted to start all of Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
It was the first time since November that the four had started together and they combined to produce an impressive attacking display.
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Mane lined up on the left, with Salah on the right and Jota and Firmino through the middle for Klopp’s men.
With Liverpool not having scored a first-half goal at Anfield since the end of December, it took just three minutes for the Reds to get that monkey off their back.
Two of the fearsome front four combined for the goal, with Salah slotting in after a nice turn in the area following a cross from Mane.
Despite their poor campaign, that goal was Salah’s 20th goal, with the Egyptian becoming the first Liverpool player to hit that landmark in three different seasons in the process.
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The Reds continued to keep the pressure on Newcastle despite that early goal, with Jota, Mane and Salah all having chances as the hosts registered 11 first-half shots.
Though Klopp may be concerned that his side wasted so many chances, with Mane in particular spurning several gilt-edged opportunities, he will have been pleased with the creative output.
And it is that offensive play that will be crucial if Liverpool are to pick up the wins they need to secure Champions League football for next season.
Burnley, West Brom and Crystal Palace will all seek to set up a deep defensive block and limit the number of opportunities the Reds have on goal.
As a result, it will be key that Klopp has as many attacking players on the pitch as possible to ensure that his side will be able to create chances.
Klopp may be slightly concerned that his four were not able to add to the scoreline in that first period, the sheer fact that they were creating so many chances will give their boss a boost.
As well as the lack of prolificacy from the formation used against Newcastle, Klopp may also be concerned with how open his side looked defensively.
But with their final three opponents being less than inspiring in attack, the Reds boss should prioritise scoring goals over being defensively sound.
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