Liverpool rounded off 2022 with an unconvincing win over Leicester City.
The visitors took an early lead on four minutes as Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall strode through the Reds’ defence and beat Alisson with a dinked finish.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side drew level just before half-time as Wout Faes’ attempt to cut out a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross sent the ball looping into his own net.
Faes doubled his and Liverpool’s tally on 45 minutes by scoring with another botched clearance, this time off a goal-bound effort from Darwin Nunez.
Here were the key talking points from Anfield:
Gakpo given a taste of his task
Cody Gakpo took in Anfield’s sights and sounds for the first time.
Watching on from an executive box, the Holland international might be forgiven for believing his remit is greater than had been initially promised.
Such was the paucity of Liverpool’s creativity in the final third that their only successful attempts on goal came from Wout Faes’ comedic first-half brace.
The Belgian joined Anfield legend Jamie Carragher in the dubious distinction of turning the ball into his own net twice in the same Premier League match.
Yet The Kop’s cries of ‘shoot!’ every time Faes touched the ball after the interval could easily have been reserved for their own misfiring players.
Darwin Nunez continued to represent Liverpool’s best attacking hope; regularly making himself available in areas to fashion goals and assists.
He, however, is still to reach the levels shown prior to the World Cup while Mohamed Salah fared little better by spurning a succession of chances himself.
Gakpo already had big shoes to fill with a £37 million price tag but the task of adding more cutting edge to his new club’s forward line is just as imposing.
Reds suffer familiar end to 2022
A year unlike any other for Liverpool ended on a relative high note.
The past 12 months have seen Jurgen Klopp’s side fight on all fronts, taking the still impossible task of winning a quadruple right down to the wire.
But a fourth straight Premier League win still failed to mask a familiar failing as they conceded the first goal for a 12th time in all competitions this season.
They suffered first blood on 20 occasions since the turn of 2022, although possibly not as wilfully as Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s fourth-minute opener.
Leicester’s midfield prodigy could not have asked for an easier path to goal as he swaggered straight through the heart of the Reds’ defence unchallenged.
Without Trent Alexander-Arnold’s timely interception, the visitors would have carved it open again when Jamie Vardy attempted to pick out Harvey Barnes.
Klopp will doubtless have several New Year’s resolutions for 2023 and his players starting games from zero, not minus one, will be chief among them.
Clock ticking for Oxlade-Chamberlain
Injuries have come to define Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Liverpool career.
Better than most, the one-time England international knows the perils of the treatment table but now finds it offering him a previously unlikely lifeline.
With Gakpo ineligible and Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino all sidelined, he started consecutive games for a first time since January.
Admittedly an unusually subpar midfield left Oxlade-Chamberlain caught between two stools as he was forced to regularly drop back and help out.
The 29-year-old eventually managed to influence matters in an advanced role as he set Nunez away in the build-up to the climax of Faes’ own goal double.
His withdrawal on the hour mark in favour of Naby Keita still felt something of an inevitability given those limited flashes as the clock slowly ticked down.
Now with less than half a year remaining on his existing contract, the sands of time are also firmly closing in on Oxlade-Chamberlain’s six years at Anfield.