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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Defensive deficiencies may cost Liverpool top-four position

Newcastle must be considered relegation candidates

Dejan Lovren's (left) mistake cost Liverpool victory against Everton at Anfield in the league last season
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Five things we learned from the weekend

1 Reds boss Klopp must address dodgy backline
Liverpool totally dominated Everton in the Merseyside derby but had to settle for a 1-1 draw due to a moment of madness from centre-back Dejan Lovren.

It wasn’t the first time this season that a mistake from Lovren has cost his team and it highlighted why Jurgen Klopp must insist on signing a new centre-back in January.

Liverpool play some of the best football in the division but have conceded 20 league goals – the joint-highest total among the top seven teams.

Last season Klopp’s side had the worst defensive record in the top four and they will continue to drop needless points against weaker sides until the situation is resolved.

2 Average players leave Toon in trouble
Leicester won 3-2 at Newcastle on Saturday without playing anywhere near their best, showing why the Magpies must be considered likely relegation candidates.

Newcastle failed to strengthen their squad sufficiently after winning promotion and need to have a much more productive January transfer window to give themselves a decent chance of staying up.

Mike Ashley either needs to sell up or give Rafa Benitez some more transfer funds because there is a lack of quality in all areas of the team.

Leicester are known as a counter-attacking team but dominated possession at St James' Park and, aside from the first 20 minutes, they looked by far the more dangerous side.

Benitez did a good job with an average squad in the early part of the season but every manager is reliant on the players at their disposal and Newcastle's are simply not good enough.

Wilfried Bony (centre) secured Swansea a vital victory over West Brom

3 Bony crucial to Swans’ survival bid
Swansea's obvious problem this season has been a lack of goals but the sudden renaissance of striker Wilfried Bony, who has scored two goals in two games, gives them hope in their quest to stay up.

Bony looked a lot livelier during Saturday's 1-0 success at home to West Brom and popped up with the winning goal in the 80th minute.

The Ivorian played some of the best football of his career in his first spell at Swansea, scoring 25 goals in 54 league games and earning a move to Manchester City.

His career has gone into the doldrums since but his movement looks much better and he was more of a threat when sub Tammy Abraham joined him in attack.

Swansea are still long odds-on for the drop but if Abraham and Bony can perform over the next five months they are likely to get out of trouble.

4 Black Cats make their point at Molineux
Sunderland have been stuck in the Sky Bet Championship bottom three but they showed they are up for a survival scrap by battling to a hard-earned 0-0 draw at leaders Wolves on Saturday.

It was a one-sided affair with Wolves winning the shot count 23 to one, but Sunderland defended with desire and intelligence and saw the game out despite losing Lee Cattermole to a 62nd-minute red card.

Chris Coleman's injury-ravaged side were the first team to stop Wolves from scoring in a home game this season and they should dig themselves out of the relegation mire.

5 Reinforcements required for Villa
Aston Villa are unbeaten in five games but there were signs during Saturday's 0-0 draw at home to Millwall that their promotion push is grinding to a halt.

Millwall arrived at Villa Park searching for their first away win of the season and were denied by some brilliant goalkeeping from Villa's Sam Johnstone.

Villa are looking toothless in attack with Jonathan Kodjia out long-term and Scott Hogan failing to score in 14 league appearances, and John Terry's ongoing metatarsal injury leaves them more vulnerable in defence.

Steve Bruce admitted Villa's performance was not good enough and he may need to reinforce his squad in January.

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Every manager is reliant on the players at their disposal and Newcastle's are simply not good enough
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