Despite the Magpies starting the game brightly, it was the visitors who went on to take the lead, with Naby Keita finishing off a flowing move in the 19th minute despite Newcastle’s protestations that James Milner had fouled Fabian Schar in the build-up.
While Miguel Almiron did beat Alisson later in the half, the goal was correctly ruled out for offside, and despite Newcastle at times looking as if they could get themselves back into the game, Jurgen Klopp’s side were ultimately well worth all three points on Saturday afternoon.
In terms of individual performances, there will undoubtedly be a number of Howe’s starting XI who will be disappointed with their respective displays against the Reds, with Almiron, Fabian Schar and Joe Willock all having games to forget.
However, it will almost certainly be the latter of this trio who is most frustrated with his efforts on Saturday afternoon.
Indeed, over the course of his 67 minutes on the pitch, Willock found himself something of a passenger in the middle of the park, enjoying just 19 touches of the ball – 34 fewer than Martin Dubravka between the Newcastle sticks – completing just eight of his 12 attempted passes and failing with his one attempted dribble.
The £80k-per-week midfielder – who Alistair Magowan previously dubbed “sloppy” – also failed to impress in a defensive capacity, losing four of his seven duels, committing one foul and being beaten by an opponent once, along with failing to make a single tackle, interception or clearance.
These returns saw the 22-year-old earn a disappointing SofaScore match rating of just 6.2, with no player from either side receiving a lower score than the former England under-21 international.
The Chronicle’s Lee Ryder also appeared unimpressed with the £19.8m-rated man’s display, awarding him a five in his own player ratings as he wrote: “Struggled in the first half. Better after the break but not close to the levels we know he’s capable of. Just 18 touches against a stellar Liverpool midfield.”
As such, while it is undeniable that Willock is a player of much greater quality than his performance against Liverpool would suggest, it cannot be avoided that the midfielder let his team and manager down on Saturday.