Liverpool must dust themselves off after defeat to Barcelona and beat Newcastle on Saturday night, returning to the top of the Premier League in the process.
Newcastle vs. Liverpool
Saturday, May 4, 2019 – 7.45pm (BST)
St James’ Park
Referee: Andre Marriner
Football is a cruel game at times.
The Reds were impressive at the Nou Camp in midweek, but a combination of Lionel Messi’s genius and their own erratic finishing proved to be their downfall.
The 3-0 defeat was tough to take, leaving the odds stacked against Jurgen Klopp‘s side in both competitions in the remaining weeks of the season.
While it would be easy for Liverpool to feel sorry for themselves, they simply must turn up at Newcastle brimming with the confidence and belief that has been on show throughout 2018/19.
They sit on 91 points from 36 games for a reason and it would be a travesty if their title bid fizzled out with a whimper now.
Rafa Benitez comes up against his old team, but the Spaniard is not one for sentimentality and his Newcastle outfit will be typically hard to break down.
The Magpies have done superbly to rise to 13th in the table following a dismal start to the campaign, and with off-field issues a constant distraction.
While Benitez’s men will pose a threat, Liverpool remain a vastly superior side and should crank the pressure back on Man City with a win.
They have come too far not to take this battle to the final day of the season, and while City now look on an unstoppable march towards back-to-back titles, anything is possible.
Get the job done at St James’, then sit back and hope Brendan Rodgers and Leicester can do Liverpool the most almighty of favours on Monday night.
This fixture last season: Newcastle 1-1 Liverpool
Klopp confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Naby Keita suffered a “high-grade adductor injury” against Barcelona and “the tendon is ruptured,” ruling him out for “at least two months.”
He is the only new absentee, though, with Adam Lallana also still expected to be sidelined, rather predictably.
The excursions in Barcelona will have taken a lot out of the players, so slight rotation may be on Klopp’s mind against Benitez’s men.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is expected to come in at right-back in place of Joe Gomez, following his surprising omission on Wednesday evening.
Jordan Henderson should start after not being named in the starting lineup against Barca, even though he came on early for the stricken Keita.
Whether Roberto Firmino is passed fit is unclear, with Klopp merely saying “we will see,” but if he does start it is likely Gini Wijnaldum either drops to the substitutes’ bench or replaces Fabinho or James Milner in midfield.
Miguel Almiron will miss out, but Benitez has confirmed Ayoze Perez is fit to feature and Jamaal Lascelles has recovered from illness.
Florian Lejeune and Sean Longstaff are absent, though, along with DeAndre Yedlin who is sidelined with a groin problem.
Last 5 Away to Newcastle (All Competitions)
Drew 1-1 – October 2017 (Joselu; Coutinho)
Lost 2-0 – December 2015 (Skrtel OG, Wijnaldum)
Lost 1-0 – November 2014 (Perez)
Drew 2-2 – October 2013 (Cabaye, Dummett; Gerrard pen, Sturridge)
Won 6-0 – April 2013 (Agger, Henderson x2, Sturridge x2, Borini)
St James’ Park
Away fans’ pubs: The Trent House next to the ground.
One piece of advice for visiting fan: Stay as long as you can. Newcastle is a great night out with hundreds of bars.
Answers provided by True Faith fanzine.
Did You Know?
Liverpool’s record at St James’ Park is poor in recent years, with no victory there since a 6-0 thrashing during the 2012/13 season.
A 2-2 draw was all they could muster in 2013/14 and a Daniel Sturridge equaliser was required to earn the Reds a point.
The following year, Perez scored the only goal of the game as Rodgers’ disappointing final season at Anfield continued to be a struggle.
In December 2015, Klopp’s first trip to St James’ ended in misery, as Wijnaldum scored against his future club in a 2-0 win for the hosts.
The last meeting between the pair in the northeast came in October 2017, when Philippe Coutinho‘s stunning opener looked set to end the rot.
Joselu had other ideas, however, finishing from close range to earn his side a point.
Newcastle – Last five results (all competitions)
Drew 1-1 vs. Brighton
Won 3-1 vs. Southampton
Won 1-0 vs. Leicester
Lost 1-0 vs. Crystal Palace
Lost 2-0 vs. Arsenal
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Lost 3-0 vs. Barcelona
Won 5-0 vs. Huddersfield
Won 2-0 vs. Cardiff
Won 4-1 vs. Porto
Won 2-0 vs. Chelsea
Speaking to the press on Friday, Klopp insisted Liverpool are still “ambitious as hell” as they aim to do all they can to win the title:
“We are ambitious as hell, we want to [win], but we still know it’s not 100 percent in our hands.
“But the only thing we can do is to beat Newcastle, and that’s unbelievably difficult!
“That is our problem, not what other teams are doing on Monday night or whatever, that’s not our problem. Our problem is really how to find a way to beat Newcastle.
“We respect them so much, and Rafa is doing an incredible job there, again. It will just be difficult, that’s how it is.
“But we still try, we are in a very positive mood, looking to the game we know [it’s] difficult but we still want to play it.
“We wouldn’t rather play Sunderland because they are round the corner, we want to go there and play the game, and we will see what we get for it.”
Live Blog & TV Info
Newcastle vs. Liverpool is live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm (BST)—Sky Sports Main Event coverage begins at 7.30pm—with kickoff at 7.45pm.
Chris Williams is in the hot seat for This is Anfield’s matchday live blog from 7pm, as the Reds look to keep their title hopes alive.