Newcastle huffed and they puffed at Anfield on Saturday, but again they returned from a trip to a top six side soundly beaten.

At Manchester United it was 4-1, at Chelsea it was 3-1, at Manchester City it was also 3-1 and, now, at Liverpool it was 2-0.

It is easy to say that Newcastle’s season will not be defined by these games – and the minimal damage to goal difference could indeed prove a bonus – but Rafa Benitez’s tactics are not giving his side a chance to pick up a result.

Although Newcastle’s back five marshalled Mohamed Salah and co well for 40 minutes, it always felt that a Liverpool goal would only be a matter of time.

Indeed, Salah found the net and, although Mohamed Diame then drew a stunning stop from Loris Karius, the Magpies scarcely looked like mustering any sort of comeback.

Newcastle’s less than stellar squad was certainly a hinderance, but they have shown in previous matches – particularly at home to Man United just weeks ago – that they can trouble the top teams on their day.

With a trip to Wembley to face Tottenham Hotspur still to come, Benitez must consider whether to change his approach.

Results between now and that rearranged game may well make his mind up for him. Two wins against Southampton and Huddersfield Town would allow Newcastle to settle for a narrow defeat; failure to defeat those two relegation rivals would pile the pressure on in the capital.

Newcastle fans just want the end of the season, with safety secured and an opportunity to invest. The hope is that a paltry return against top-six sides does not prove costly.

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