It’s the final matchday of 2020 for Liverpool, where they will look to put their last performance right when they meet Newcastle on Wednesday evening.
Newcastle vs. Liverpool
Wednesday, December 30, 2020 – 8pm (GMT)
St James’ Park
Premier League (16)
Referee: Paul Tierney
A trip to St James’ Park awaits in what is the final game of what has been a year like no other, where a victory is much-needed after dropping points last time out.
The Reds were left to rue taking their foot off the gas as they played right into Sam Allardyce’s hands to record the first Anfield league blemish this season.
Disappointment and frustration were the order of the day and with just three days between the games, a swift response is needed to maintain a buffer at the top of the table.
A Newcastle side without a win in their last four games in all competitions with a manager under pressure is next on the agenda, but Liverpool have a firm reminder not to take them lightly.
Jurgen Klopp voiced his expectation that his team will respond and they don’t tend to make the same mistake in succession and the hope will be the same applies here.
Having failed to capitalise on missteps elsewhere on the weekend, three points are vital as we turn into the New Year and another busy month of fixtures.
Let’s finish 2020 in style, Reds.
As ever, all eyes and ears are on Thiago and his availability after being sidelined for more than two months with a knee injury.
The Spaniard took the first steps toward joining full team training prior to Christmas and the manager was expecting his full return with the squad at Kirkby on Monday.
It is still up in the air as to whether he will travel to Newcastle or that once again caution will come into play with minutes against Southampton on Monday in mind instead.
But as Thiago nears his return and both Xherdan Shaqiri and James Milner have recovered from their respective injuries, the Reds have been forced to trade another injury and it is Joel Matip once again.
The centre-back left the field at the hour mark over the weekend and Klopp confirmed that “he felt something in his adductor” and that the club would be forced to wait for the results of the scan.
The hope will be that it is a matter of weeks rather than months, with Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips now to be relied upon as reports continue to dismiss moving for a new signing in the January window.
Naby Keita will take no part in the game after picking up a muscle injury of his own, with Klopp having confirmed on Sunday that the Reds “don’t know exactly how long” he will be absent for.
The opposition, meanwhile, will remain without Jamaal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin due to the effects of catching COVID-19.
And ex-Red Jonjo Shelvey and Ryan Fraser are both expected to miss out with groin injuries.
Potential Newcastle XI: Darlow; Manquillo, Fernandez, Schar, Clark, Lewis; Ritchie, Longstaff, Hayden, Joelinton; Wilson
Last 5 Away to Newcastle (All Competitions)
Won 3-1 – July 2020 (Van Dijk, Origi, Mane; Gayle)
Won 3-2 – May 2019 (Van Dijk, Salah, Origi; Atsu, Rondon)
Drew 1-1 – October 2017 (Coutinho; Joselu)
Lost 2-0 – December 2015 (Skrtel OG, Wijnaldum)
Lost 1-0 – November 2014 (Perez)
St James’ Park
* To be played behind-closed-doors
Did You Know?
The Reds’ away record this season has not been impressive by any means, with just two wins from seven trips on the road.
But this time around they could not only add three valuable points to their season tally but also record a third consecutive top-flight win away at Newcastle for the first time in the club’s history.
Liverpool have strung two wins on the bounce at St James’ Park on a number of occasions but never three, and having won 3-2 and 3-1 in their last two visits a third on the spin is on the cards.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Newcastle – Last five results (all competitions)
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp was eager to ensure the West Brom game is not replicated as he awaits yet another “tough challenge” against the Magpies:
“I’m not angry with them, it can happen. A defeat is a defeat if you don’t learn from it, we will learn from it again and we will play football again.
“The boys are a top group, they were a top group after winning 7-0 and are a top group after drawing against West Brom, that doesn’t change.
“I’m not a young manager anymore and I can judge these things in the right way, we are not happy about it but now it’s over and we can make sure it doesn’t happen the same again.
“It will be another tough challenge like all Newcastle games have always been. We had three days, let’s make sure we are ready.”
TV & Liveblog Info
Newcastle vs. Liverpool kicks off at 8pm (GMT) and will be shown live in the UK on Amazon Prime, with coverage from 7.30pm.
Chris Williams will keep you informed with his usual bias commentary throughout all the action on our usual matchday live blog, starting from 7.15pm.