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.
How happy are you with Newcastle’s start to the season?
Very happy. To be unbeaten in four games is new territory for us at the start of a season!
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?
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?
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?
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.
Where do you think they will finish?
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!
Looking ahead to Wednesday, where do you see the key battles taking place?
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?
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?
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.