Liverpool will look to heap more pressure on Man City on Boxing Day, as they aim to extend their lead at the top by overcoming Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle.
Liverpool vs. Newcastle
Boxing Day, 2018 — 3pm (GMT)
Referee: Graham Scott
With an incredible 15 wins and three draws from their opening 18 Premier League games, this is the best start to a season in the club’s history at Christmas.
Friday’s 2-0 win at Wolves was the latest hurdle cleared, and on paper, the Boxing Day visit of Newcastle should be a more straightforward affair.
Benitez’s men are fighting to avoid relegation, with off-field matters not helping, and they are likely to adopt a defensive approach – meaning patience could be required.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference Klopp noted as such, with his analysis predicting the visitors will play five at the back.
Liverpool have only ever beaten a team led by their ex-manager once and the Spaniard is an expert at setting a team up to frustrate.
For Liverpool, is simply a case of remaining focused, not resting on their laurels and being ruthless, with anything other than three points a major disappointment.
Victory would complete a remarkable half-season of fixtures.
This fixture last season: Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle
Alexander-Arnold has been missing for the last two games with a foot injury, while Keita was substituted with foot and rib injuries against Wolves.
Rotation is expected at Anfield, with fixtures coming thick and fast for Liverpool, including crucial meetings with Arsenal (December 29) and City (January 3) on the horizon.
Karl Darlow, Ciaran Clark and Florian Lejuene are all doubts for Newcastle, while former Liverpool man Jonjo Shelvey could also miss out with a thigh issue.
Last 5 at Home to Newcastle (All Competitions)
Won 2-0 – March 2018 (Salah, Mane)
Drew 2-2 – April 2016 (Sturridge, Lallana; Cisse, Colback)
Won 2-0 – April 2015 (Sterling, Allen)
Won 2-0 – May 2014 (Agger, Sturridge; Skrtel OG)
Drew 1-1 – November 2012 (Suarez; Cabaye)
Did You Know?
Virgil van Dijk has had an astonishing influence since joining Liverpool in January, with many now hailing him as the world’s best centre-back.
The Dutchman comes out on top in a number of statistics in a Reds shirt, with more minutes played (2,845), passes completed (2,471), duels won (213) and clearances made (173) than any other player.
On top of that, he also leads the way in aerial duels (155), interceptions (38) and shots blocked (13).
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Newcastle – Last five results (all competitions)
Speaking at Melwood on Christmas Eve, Klopp explained the tweaks made to Salah’s role, with the Egyptian excelling as a centre forward this season:
“It’s good. He had to adapt a bit to a slightly different position, it’s not that much different but it is different from time to time.
“We need him as a linkup player as well, that’s a very important part of our game. But he is still, with his desire and his speed, especially on the first few yards, just impressive.
“He’s a very important part of our finishing situation in general, how we prepare them, how we come in these situations.
“Of course, he’s young enough to involve a lot more things in his style of play. It’s not just speed, it’s not just finishing, it’s between the lines, it’s keeping the ball.”
TV & Live Blog Info
Liverpool vs. Newcastle is not live on UK television, due to it being a 3pm (GMT) kickoff.
Do not fear, though, because This is Anfield’s live blog will be running from 2.15pm, as Chris Williams attempts to work off his Christmas dinner and talk you through yet another Reds win.