Liverpool endured a familiar frustrating afternoon in front of goal as they were held to a draw at Newcastle.
Manager Jurgen Klopp once again saw his side dominate possession and create chances but once again saw them fail to capitalise as former Reds boss Rafael Benitez guided the hosts to a draw.
Philippe Coutinho gave Liverpool the lead with a superb 25-yard curler but more poor defending allowed Joselu to equalise with a fortunate finish before the break.
Liverpool were dominant in the second half but could not find a way through as Benitez continued his record of never losing against Liverpool during his managerial career.
Klopp’s side have now won one of their last seven games in all competitions and are seventh in the Premier League.
Same old story for Klopp
For Liverpool, who have now drawn three of their opening seven games, the recent problems are well documented – they cannot kill teams off.
In six games in September, Klopp’s side had 126 shots on goal, but only 34 were on target and they only won once in all competitions.
It was a similar story at St James’ Park, with Mohamed Salah, Georginio Wijnaldum and Daniel Sturridge all wasting clear openings before Coutinho’s superb goal.
A miscued clearance fell at the feet of the Brazilian 30 yards out, he cut between two midfielders before stepping around Jonjo Shelvey and bending a wonderful shot into the top corner.
But the lead lasted just seven minutes as the team’s soft underbelly was again exposed, Shelvey playing a fine through-ball under no pressure to send Joselu through a huge gap in the Reds defence.
Joel Matip made a recovery challenge but could only clear the ball into the shins of Joselu and send it past Simon Mignolet.
Whether Klopp bemoans bad luck or poor defending, the facts are that Manchester City and Manchester United have both conceded just twice in the Premier League all season – Liverpool have now shipped 12, including nine in their last four matches.
Sturridge fails striking audition
After seeing his side yet again miss a host of chances in the 1-1 Champions League draw at Spartak Moscow on Tuesday, Klopp handed Sturridge a rare chance from the start, leaving Roberto Firmino on the bench.
But despite some neat touches – one pass to free Salah in particular was outstanding – the England striker did not provide the cutting edge his team currently need so badly.
In the end he had one big chance to score in the match and could only hit tamely at Rob Elliot after a miscued clearance fell to him. Salah was equally guilty, scooping the rebound over the top.
Sturridge has scored just 10 Premier League goals in Klopp’s two years in charge at the club.
Liverpool’s best chance of a winner came in the final minute when substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain headed over, though Newcastle also had a chance to take all three points in stoppage time when more slack marking from a corner almost allowed Mohamed Diame to score.
Benitez bringing stability back
These two clubs memorably played out back-to-back 4-3 games at Anfield in 1996 and 1997 – and as a result are seemingly broadcast live every season.
Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle team of the 1990s may have served up a similar scoreline against this team of Klopp’s, but there was little chance of Benitez sharing in such a goalfest.
His side were impressive, clinical in taking the one clear chance they created, and never allowed Liverpool to relax despite their stranglehold on possession.
Benitez will forever be etched into the history of Liverpool after winning the Champions League in 2005 – but he is also loved by Newcastle fans after guiding them back to the Premier League at the first time of asking with the minimum of fuss last season.
He could, on the early evidence, achieve survival in a similar manner.