Patience could be required for Reds vs. Rafa – Liverpool vs. Newcastle Preview

24 December 2018

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)
Anfield
Premier League
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.

A four-point gap has now been opened up between Jurgen Klopp‘s men and City, who face Leicester City at the same time.

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

 

Team News

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Friday, December 21, 2018: Liverpool's Naby Keita during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp has confirmed that he hopes to have both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita available for the match.

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.

Joe Gomez (leg) and Joel Matip (collarbone) are still out, however, as are Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) and Rhian Brewster (knee).

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.

The likes of Alberto Moreno, Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi will be hoping for some rare playing time, should Klopp feel the need to give key men a breather.

Xherdan Shaqiri should start, with at least one of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah likely to be rested.

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)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 3, 2018: Liverpool's Sadio Mane scores the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by Peter Powell/Propaganda)

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?

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Friday, December 21, 2018: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk celebrates scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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).

 

Form

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Friday, December 21, 2018: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (hidden) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)

Won 2-0 vs. Wolves
Won 3-1 vs. Man United
Won 1-0 vs. Napoli
Won 4-0 vs. Bournemouth
Won 3-1 vs. Burnley

Newcastle – Last five results (all competitions)

Drew 0-0 vs. Fulham
Won 1-0 vs. Huddersfield
Lost 2-1 vs. Wolves
Drew 1-1 vs. Everton
Lost 3-0 vs. West Ham

 

Klopp’s View

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

Camera, Anfield, matchday (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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.

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