From ‘it doesn’t matter’ back to ‘three points are a must’, Liverpool return to the pitch five days after football was turned upside down, with the top-four back on the agenda.
Liverpool vs. Newcastle
Saturday, April 24, 2021 – 12.30pm (BST)
Premier League (33)
Referee: Andre Marriner
The target for Jurgen Klopp and his side will have remained unchanged on Monday evening in the midst of attempts to tear European football apart.
But for many, it did leave the question of if the outcome at Leeds would hold any great significance with Liverpool to be assured of their place in the Super League irrespective of their finish in the league.
Merely 24 hours later, however, the plans would burn to ash and the Reds’ single point would re-emerge as a missed opportunity to leapfrog their rivals.
Now in seventh place heading into the weekend, there is little room for error to peg back the two-point deficit to the top-four and salvage what has truly been a season like no other.
Punishment may yet arrive from the powers that be, but Klopp and co. will not be interested in the slightest as their jobs remain as it always has: to pick up all three points and the rest will take care of itself.
Newcastle are away from danger but are enjoying a hot streak, now it’s on Liverpool to kick on, place pressure on those around them and and show football without jeopardy is not football at all.
Klopp, of course, continues to be without his three senior centre-backs, as well as captain Jordan Henderson.
There is the option of Klopp playing all four attacking players, though, adopting a 4-2-3-1 formation and deploying just two midfielders, if all are fit and available.
Key man Allan Saint-Maximin is expected to be fit for Newcastle, while captain Jamaal Lascelles is definitely out, along with Fabian Schar, Karl Darlow and Ryan Fraser.
Possible Newcastle XI: Dubravka; Murphy, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie; Shelvey, Longstaff; Almiron; Wilson, Joelinton
Last 5 at Home to Newcastle (All Competitions)
Won 3-1 – September 2019 (Willems; Mane x2, Salah)
Won 4-0 – December 2018 (Lovren, Salah pen, Shaqiri, Fabinho)
Won 2-0 – March 2018 (Salah, Mane)
Drew 2-2 – April 2016 (Sturridge, Lallana; Cisse, Colback)
Won 2-0 – April 2015 (Sterling, Allen)
Did You Know?
Andy Robertson has been a wonderful player for Liverpool, but it is hard to deny that he has fallen below his best this season.
One eye-opening statistic sums up the Scot’s struggles going forward, with the left-back not registering an assist for the Reds in 2021 to date.
The last time Robertson teed-up an opponent to score was away to Crystal Palace way back on December 19, when he crossed beautifully to Firmino.
While the 27-year-old got 11 and 12 assists in 2018/19 and 2019/20 respectively – he will need to hit top form if he is to match those tallies this time around.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Newcastle – Last five results (all competitions)
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp powerfully addressed the fallen Super League and how the club needs to unite not divide over the owners’ actions:
“I really hope the bond between us and our supporters might even get stronger and that we don’t discuss the bad decisions of the past, I just don’t understand life like this.
“They’re good people, I know the owners, I know they’re not perfect like I’m not perfect, but they are not bad people.
“They made a not so good decision, a bad decision, but let’s carry on. That’s my point of view and I can’t tell people how to see it.
“But now we must make sure we don’t get any harm from it, like a different atmosphere in the club.”
TV & Liveblog Info
Liverpool vs. Newcastle is a 12.30pm kickoff and is live in the UK on BT Sport 1. Coverage gets underway at 11.30am.
Ben Twelves is in charge of This Is Anfield’s matchday liveblog, making sure you are all kept up-to-date in biased fashion here from 11.45am.