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Fearing Diaz “murder” & why Liverpool couldn’t be playing Newcastle “at a better time”

Liverpool could be playing Newcastle at an ideal time on Wednesday evening, with the Magpies also decimated by injuries ahead of their trip to Anfield.

The Reds blew Bournemouth away on Saturday, winning 9-0 and matching the record for the biggest Premier League win, but a tougher assignment awaits next.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men host newly-wealthy Newcastle on Wednesday evening, with the visitors unbeaten in their opening four league games in 2022/23, winning once and drawing three times.

With kickoff almost upon us, we spoke to Newcastle fan and writer Dave Black (@cm9798) to get the lowdown on the Magpies, assess Liverpool’s season so far and discuss the midweek clash.


How happy are you with Newcastle’s start to the season?

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 30, 2022: Newcastle United's Bruno Guimarães during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St James' Park. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Very happy. To be unbeaten in four games is new territory for us at the start of a season!

It’s “only” one win in four, but the draws against Man City and Brighton seem like good points to get looking at the table.

Fighting back to get a draw at Wolves is good in the circumstances – we’re missing a few key players already, which is a worry.


Is a European finish realistic?

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 8, 2022: Newcastle United's manager Eddie Howe during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Everton FC at St. James’ Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In pre-season, I wanted to aim for a top-half finish and just ensure we keep improving, but the way we acquitted ourselves against Man City last week has made me think differently.

That performance has to be the benchmark and if we can hit those heights, more often than not we will win.

The squad is wafer thin though and we’re already seeing that a few injuries leave us with reserves who were prominent in our mediocrity.

It will be interesting to see if we address that in the final few days of the transfer window, but having just shelled out £60 million on Alexander Isak, I’m not sure we’ll be that active.


How big do you think the Isak signing is?

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 18: Alexander Isak of Sweden poses for a photograph with their Heineken "Star of the Match" award after the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group E match between Sweden and Slovakia at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 18, 2021 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson - UEFA)

It’s a statement signing. For us to go and get one of the so-called wonderkids of European football is hopefully the sign of things to come.

Even taking his reputation out of the equation, securing backup for Callum Wilson is a big move for us.

Chris Wood battles hard, but we have to change the way we play when we go from Wilson to Wood, Isak is a better fit but also a more versatile option.

The signing seemed to get sorted very quickly following the City game and I just wonder if the people in power at Newcastle have sensed an opportunity to really put ourselves amongst the European places in a season that already promises to be unusual due to the World Cup break.


As for Liverpool, how are you assessing their start to the season?

2JT1C40 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates with his team-mates after scoring their side's seventh goal of the game during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: Saturday August 27, 2022.

Up until Saturday, I felt it had been quite laboured. Draws with Fulham and Crystal Palace were underwhelming, to say the least, and defeat to a supposedly in-crisis Man United wasn’t the start to the season I expected you to have.

There have been reasons for all of that, of course, and winning 9-0 is a good response to the criticism, even if it was against below-par opposition.

I feel like the pressure on Liverpool is intense as everything you do is going to be compared to City and they’ve had two tough situations recently which they have found their way out of.

Darwin Nunez‘s red card hasn’t helped obviously and the midfield injuries caught up with you against Man United, but it will soon improve I’m sure.


Where do you think they will finish?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2022: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (R) celebrates with team-mate Virgil van Dijk after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I predicted you to be champions in the pre-season preview, so seeing as we’re only four games in, I best stick with that!

As I said earlier, it’s going to be a pretty unusual season, so the concept of you making up five points on Man City – or seven on Arsenal if you’re that way inclined – is not that farfetched.


Looking ahead to Wednesday, where do you see the key battles taking place?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2022: Liverpool's Luis Díaz celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I’m worried for us all over the pitch, to be quite honest.

We look set to be without Bruno Guimaraes, Allan Saint-Maximin and Wilson, and there’s a doubt over Kieran Trippier, so pretty much all of our best players.

It could be a battle of the second-string midfield, so Joelinton against Fabinho sticks out as a big duel.

I worry about Sean Longstaff in our midfield, potentially playing his third 90 minutes in a week. He’s quite slow sometimes and I think he will get swallowed up by your pressing game.

Aside from that, if Trippier misses out then Luis Diaz will murder Javier Manquillo, who is quite a steady player but hasn’t played at all due to injury and will be rusty.


Which Liverpool player would you most like to see in a Newcastle shirt?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 6, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring his side's second equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mo Salah, please. We need a right winger in our front three.

If he’s unavailable, we’ll have Van Dijk.


Finally, what’s your prediction?

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 30, 2022: Newcastle United's manager Eddie Howe during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If you’d asked me on Friday, I’d have been talking up our chances on the back on last Sunday and you being a little bit out of sorts.

Fast forward 72 hours and we’ve lost all our best players and you’ve won 9-0. I think you’ll win at a canter, unfortunately.

Let’s say 3-0, but hopefully, we can keep it respectable.

Honestly, I’ll sound really pessimistic here but you couldn’t be playing us at a better time if the team news is as I fear.

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