Newcastle United thought they could claim psychological advantage over Liverpool in Premier League showdown
You’d have thought Liverpool’s opponents would have learned by now. Mere moments before the Reds’ latest Premier League match at Anfield, a murmur spread across the stadium. Newcastle United, keen for any advantage, were employing an age old trick.
Alisson Becker slowly trotted away from the Kop, as opposite number Nick Pope headed towards him. It soon became apparent Newcastle had won the toss. A small victory for the Magpies – but in vain as Liverpool would ultimately triumph 2-1 in dramatic fashion.
Newcastle’s efforts to unsettle the Reds served as a reminder of the mistake opposing clubs are continuing to make. Yes, tradition dictates Liverpool would much rather be kicking towards the Kop in the second half. But it seems ending the game attacking the Anfield Road End makes no difference to Jurgen Klopp’s side these days.
Statistics show that almost eight years have passed since Liverpool last lost a home game when they were asked to kick towards the Kop in the first half.
Last season, Burnley, AC Milan, Shrewsbury Town and Villarreal were beaten at Anfield after winning the toss while Manchester City and Brighton both drew 2-2. The previous term, Tottenham Hotspur were downed.
Leicester City, Arsenal, Newcastle United and, in the FA Cup, Everton were defeated in 2019/20, while in 2018/19 Liverpool kicked towards the Kop first half four times, with West Ham United, Paris Saint-Germain, Newcastle and Wolverhampton Wanderers all vanquished.
The previous season, Manchester City were beaten in both the Champions League quarter-final and Premier League. Brighton were thrashed 4-0 on the final day, although Burnley and Tottenham at least earned draws. In 2016/17, Stoke City and Middlesbrough were overcome in the Premier League having won the toss, while West Ham United and Chelsea came away with a point.
And in 2015/16 there was a similar return, with Villarreal thumped 3-0 in the Europa League semi-final, Everton thrashed 4-0 in the league and Bournemouth beaten 1-0. Sunderland and Newcastle secured 2-2 draws.
.Indeed, you have to go back to early in the 2014/15 campaign for when Liverpool last lost a home game when attacking the Kop in the first 45 minutes, a season in which Blackburn Rovers later held out for a goalless draw in the FA Cup after winning the toss while Burnley, Tottenham and West Ham were all beaten.
Real Madrid, who won 3-0 in their Champions League group game visit in October 2014, are the last team to achieve the feat. Of course, with Anfield having become a fortress under Klopp – provided there are fans inside to watch, of course – in which direction they start the game has become somewhat immaterial. But it’s been clear for some time that winning the toss is not the advantage away teams hope it could be.