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10 key things to know ahead of Liverpool vs. Newcastle

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Liverpool host 19th-placed Newcastle to Anfield on Thursday night, in the final home league game before Christmas.

The Reds saw off Aston Villa narrowly in their last outing and another home clash comes their way this week.

Newcastle may be wealthy after their recent takeover but they are languishing at the bottom of the table and relegation looks very possible.

Here are 10 things to know ahead of the match.

 

1. Money can’t buy you points (yet)

Newcastle fans takeover (PA Media)

The much-loathed reign of Mike Ashley at St James’ Park is now over, with the controversial former owner selling up for around £305 million in October.

Taking over is the highly controversial Saudi Arabian-backed consortium led by businesswoman Amanda Staveley, meaning Newcastle are set to become the next financial force in English football.

It is a deal that doesn’t sit well with many rival fans, partly due to human rights issues, but Magpies supporters are not complicit in that.

For that reason, their supporters should arguably be allowed to enjoy what could be an exciting period in the club’s history. But still, would there be anything funnier than arguably the richest club in the world being relegated?

 

2. Howe’s early struggles

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 4, 2016: AFC Bournemouth's manager Eddie Howe during the FA Premier League match against Liverpool at Dean Court. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Steve Bruce’s doomed spell as Newcastle manager is now a thing of the past, with Eddie Howe coming in to try to save the day.

However, it’s fair to say he hasn’t made a flying start to life up north with the Magpies only winning one of his first five games in charge.

Their 4-0 defeat at Leicester last time around was woeful, and if Newcastle don’t start picking up points soon, they could be cut adrift in the relegation fight.

Fortunately for them, they have potential bucket-loads of money to spend in January.

 

3. How could Newcastle line-up?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 24, 2021: Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin (L) and Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Howe may feel he needs to shake things up at Anfield following the abject showing at Leicester on Sunday.

On the flip side, the manager could back the same group of players and demand a response.

Martin Dubravka returned recently and will continue in goal, while former Liverpool pair Javi Manquillo and Jonjo Shelvey could both start.

Allan Saint-Maximin is Newcastle’s main attacking threat and Callum Wilson and Joelinton could both feature as well if Howe is feeling bold.

Possible Newcastle XI: Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Lewis; Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin; Wilson, Joelinton.

 

4. Who’s out for Liverpool?

Harvey Elliott is still missing but is progressing well in his recovery from the broken ankle suffered back in September. A January return is on the cards for the 18-year-old.

Meanwhile, Nat Phillips will be out until the New Year with a fractured cheekbone, having performed so well against AC Milan.

Curtis Jones is back in training after a troubling eye issue and Roberto Firmino is fit again after a hamstring injury and should be among the subs.

 

5. Predicted Reds starting XI

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 1, 2021: Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 239th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With Sunday’s tough trip to Tottenham looming, Jurgen Klopp may have some rotation in mind on Thursday.

Joel Matip will likely be needed more against Spurs, meaning Ibrahima Konate could start alongside Virgil van Dijk at centre-back.

Other fringe players such as Kostas Tsimikas, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi could be eyeing up minutes, while Diogo Jota should start after being on the substitutes’ bench against Villa.

Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Jota, Mane

 

6. Newcastle hapless at Anfield

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 14, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Last season, Jack Willock’s last-gasp strike earned Newcastle a dramatic draw at Anfield, but their record here is pretty appalling.

The Magpies’ last victory at the home of Liverpool came in the League Cup way back in November 1995 when a Steve Watson strike separated the two sides.

In terms of a league win at Anfield, Newcastle haven’t succeeded since April 1994, with Rob Lee and Andy Cole finding the net.

There was also the small matter of those two 4-3 wins for Liverpool back in the mid-1990s, summing up how miserable their fans’ trips to the red half of Merseyside have invariably been.

 

7. Klopp’s Presser

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Klopp addressed a recent move from Liverpool to Newcastle for a senior analyst, saying:

Mark doesn’t know our lineup for tomorrow! He knows how we play football, but I think if anyone with a football brain has a closer look they will know how we play football.

“There’s now not too many secrets anymore. We were happy to let him use this opportunity, and it is an opportunity for him.

“Good people should be treated in a good way, and that’s what we did with Mark.”

 

8. Did You Know?

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates scoring from the penalty spot for the first goal during the Premier League match at Anfield

This Liverpool side have smashed many records to smithereens under Klopp and another one is close to being broken.

The Reds have now scored in 31 consecutive matches in all competitions, equalling the record set between April 1957 and January 1958.

The last time Liverpool failed to score in a game was at home to Real Madrid back in March as they bowed out of the Champions League.

It is another statistic that further outlines the greatness of this team – at least one goal against Newcastle, please (preferably more!).

 

9. It’s ‘Mike Dean Night’ at Anfield!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 21, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson speaks with referee Mike Dean during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s Mike Dean’s world and we’re all just living in it!

The Premier League‘s most showy referee takes charge of Thursday’s match, which means there is almost certain to be controversy of some kind.

Too often, Dean seems hellbent on making games about him and Liverpool have a mixed recent record with him officiating.

The Reds won 2-0 at home to Burnley with him in charge in August, but they did throw away a two-goal against Brighton.

Last season, Klopp’s men won two and lost one league match with Dean overseeing matters, one of which saw Alisson head home the winner against West Brom.

 

10. Reds back on the telly

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 11, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After having three untelevised matches in recent weeks, Liverpool are back on the TV on Thursday.

The match is live on BT Sport 1 from 7pm (GMT) and kickoff takes place at 8pm.

Our matchday live blog will also be in full swing from 7.15pm, with Henry Jackson guiding you through all of the action from Anfield.

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