Liverpool face Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon, as Rafa Benitez looks to inflict misery on his former club.
Newcastle United vs. Liverpool
Sunday, October 1, 2017 — 4.30pm (BST)
St James’ Park
Referee: Craig Pawson
The Reds won in their last Premier League outing, seeing off Leicester City 3-2 in nervy fashion at the King Power Stadium.
It hasn’t taken long for the negativity to return, however, with Tuesday’s deeply frustrating 1-1 draw at Spartak Moscow showcasing yet more individual errors and poor finishing.
It is quite astonishing how often Liverpool are being let down by those aspects of their play, and it must stop if this season is to be a successful one.
Jurgen Klopp should see Sunday’s trip to Newcastle as a good chance to earn back-to-back away league victories, though, with key men available and very few injury concerns.
St James’ Park hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Reds in recent times, following just one victory there in five—they have lost the last two—but there is no reason why three points cannot be added to the tally this weekend.
Benitez was such a popular figure during his successful spell at Anfield between 2004 and 2010—it will come as no surprise that his Magpies side will be well-disciplined and looking to counter-attack all afternoon.
Having drifted five points behind leaders Man City and Man United, Liverpool cannot afford their current level of inconsistency to continue, and a winning run has to start sooner rather than later.
Being confident about Klopp’s men seeing off Newcastle feels slightly reckless, but if they don’t add three points to their tally, it has to be considered a disappointing result.
Last meeting: Liverpool 2-2 Newcastle United
Sadio Mane is back after serving his three-match domestic suspension, with the 25-year-old now Liverpool’s most important player.
Philippe Coutinho is very close, in that respect, and with every game that passes, the more the Brazilian looks back to his very best.
The same cannot be said of Roberto Firmino, however, and Klopp may be tempted to start Daniel Sturridge instead, after some poor performances of late.
That said, the thought of Liverpool’s “fab four” all starting is a very exciting one, so Firmino may deserve one more chance to get back into his groove.
Emre Can had his worst game of the season on Tuesday night, and Gini Wijnaldum could take his place, while Andrew Robertson and Joe Gomez will tussle with Alberto Moreno and Trent Alexander-Arnold for a start at full-back.
Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana are Liverpool’s only injury concerns, though Dejan Lovren has revealed he is currently playing through the pain.
Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara are missing for Newcastle, but like Klopp, Benitez cannot complain about a lack of options.
Florian Lejeune is a doubt, but Jonjo Shelvey could start against his former club.
Last 5 at Newcastle (All Competitions)
Newcastle 2-0 Liverpool – December 6, 2015 (Skrtel OG, Wijnaldum)
Newcastle 1-0 Liverpool – November 1, 2014 (Perez)
Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool – October 19, 2013 (Cabaye, Dummett; Gerrard pen, Sturridge)
Newcastle 0-6 Liverpool – April 27, 2013 (Henderson x2, Sturridge x2, Agger, Borini)
Newcastle 2-0 Liverpool – April 1, 2012 (Cisse x2)
St James’ Park
Away fans’ pubs: There are just loads and loads. I’d say just head to the ground from the station and you’ll pass 20 bars on the way that would cater for away fans (if you take the right route).
Centurion at the station normally has plenty of away fans in. Sam Jacks caters for ‘banter’ between fans and strippers—if that’s your thing!
One piece of advice for visiting fans: Make a weekend of it. Remember 12,000 home fans go up and down the same number of stairs you do to get to your seat, and they do it every other week. They don’t moan. So please follow their lead.
Newcastle – Last five results (all competitions)
Lost 1-0 vs. Brighton
Won 2-1 vs. Stoke
Won 1-0 vs. Swansea
Won 3-0 vs. West Ham
Lost 3-2 vs. Nottingham Forest
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Drew 1-1 vs. Spartak Moscow
Won 3-2 vs. Leicester
Lost 2-0 vs. Leicester
Drew 1-1 vs. Burnley
Drew 2-2 vs. Sevilla
Did You Know?
It is 67 matches since Liverpool and Newcastle last played out a goalless draw, with the two sides drawing a blank in a First Division clash at St James’ Park in 1974.
In his pre-Newcastle press conference, Klopp spoke positively about the progress of injured duo Clyne and Lallana:
“Both [Clyne and Lallana] are doing really well, but they are not in team training,” Klopp said.
“With Clyne it was not too sure, but he’s made good steps. For Adam it is completely normal, how we thought it would be.”
“[Lallana] has no problems any more, but we can’t rush in this.”
TV & Live Blog Info
The match is the last Premier League fixture before the dreaded international break, with coverage on Sky Sports Main Event getting underway at 4.15pm (BST). Kickoff is at 4.30pm.
Henry Jackson is on live blog duty from 3.45pm, with pre-match content in abundance and minute-by-minute updates during the game.