Well, where do we start with that?
A version of Newcastle United we all thought was long since banished reared its ugly head on Sunday. Eddie Howe’s side threw away all three points against a Liverpool side down to ten men following Virgil Van Dijk’s red card for kicking Alexander Isak’s leg into the Milburn Stand.
Yes, Jamie Carragher, it was a definite red card.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was fortunate to not be given his marching orders shortly before Van Dijk’s red, both figuratively and literally.
The Liverpool full-back had already been booked for throwing the ball away in frustration, and then the impressive Anthony Gordon glided past the defender before Alexander Arnold produced a clothesline to bring the Newcastle winger down.
A definite yellow, but not so in the eyes of John Brooks.
Gordon was the man of the moment, latching onto a mistake by Alexander Arnold minutes later. He was through on goal, one vs. one against Alisson on goal.
Perhaps last season many wouldn’t have been confident in Gordon’s ability to finish it off, but this is a different Anthony Gordon. Full of confidence and thriving off Howe’s management, he tucked it away with ease and lifted the roof off the Leazes Stand.
A goal and a man up, what could go wrong? Not a lot with this version of Newcastle United, or so we thought.
Despite chances coming their way through Miguel Almiron, Newcastle were finding it difficult playing against ten men. They were switched on and intense against eleven, but naive and almost too arrogant against ten.
A lot had been said about an expectation for Newcastle to beat Liverpool, and that may have played on their minds as they lost control of what seemed to be a certain three points.
The turning point of the game came just after the 70th-minute mark with the first three substitutions made by Howe.
Wilson in for Isak, Barnes for Gordon, and the most surprising one of all, Longstaff for Tonali. The Italian was bossing the midfield and losing that presence changed everything.
Suddenly, Newcastle became sloppy and nervy. Liverpool made a substitution of their own with the almost-forgotten Darwin Nunez coming on. He caused all sorts of problems down Newcastle’s left side, running off the shoulders of defenders and looking a constant threat.
The impressive Sven Botman was cruelly punished for a lapse in concentration, and Nunez leveled.
After that, Matt Targett had a moment to forget as he watched Mo Salah thread a ball in behind to Nunez, who made no mistake with the finish.
This shows what Newcastle must do to compete with the top sides. Howe has done incredible things at Newcastle, changing the mentality of a side who had no guidance and no confidence. But that mentality needs to change even further—a game is never won until the whistle goes.
Newcastle became too arrogant and Liverpool capitalised.
A trip to the Amex Stadium for an evening kick-off on Saturday is next in what has been a tough round of opening fixtures for Newcastle. A win will settle everyone down going into the first international break of the season, three defeats on the spin will test Newcastle’s mentality.
Whether Howe rings the changes against Brighton remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Newcastle need to gain some momentum.