10 key things to know ahead of Newcastle vs. Liverpool

Liverpool face a potentially defining day in their bid to chase the top four, as they make the trip to Newcastle on Saturday night.

Newcastle vs. Liverpool

Premier League (22) | St James’ Park
February 18, 2023 | 5.30pm (GMT)

The Reds got back to winning ways at just the right time earlier in the week, seeing off Merseyside rivals Everton 2-0 at Anfield.

A far greater challenge awaits this weekend, however, as Jurgen Klopp‘s men head north to take on a Newcastle side with genuine top-four ambitions.

Here are 10 things you need to know ahead of a massive game for Liverpool.


1. Newly-formidable Newcastle

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 9, 2019: AFC Bournemouth's manager Eddie Howe on the pitch before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Newcastle may be newly-rich and on the rise, but not many expected them to be quite as impressive as they have been this season.

Incredibly, Eddie Howe’s side have only lost once in the league, which was away to Liverpool when Fabio Carvalho scored a last-gasp winner back in August.

“Eddie is doing an absolutely exceptional job,” Klopp praised in his pre-match press conference.

“The financial possibilities they will have in the future are exceptional but it [their success] is not because of that [so far]. They built on the team they had.”

Howe has created an expertly-drilled side who have conceded just 13 goals in 22 league games, although, remarkably, they’ve actually only won one league game more than Liverpool this season despite sitting nine points ahead of the Reds in the table.

The Magpies also have a League Cup final against Man United to look forward to next weekend, looking for their first trophy since 1969.


2. Bruno a huge loss

One player who won’t be available for the Magpies this weekend is Bruno Guimaraes, which acts as an almighty boost for Liverpool.

The Brazilian is still serving a three-match after being sent off against Southampton last month.

Bruno has been a game-changing signing since arriving last January, adding both quality and bite to Newcastle‘s midfield, and he will be a big loss on Saturday.

His influence is summed up by the fact that Newcastle haven’t won a single league match without him in the team this season – four draws and one defeat.


3. Liverpool’s injuries easing

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, February 13, 2023: Liverpool's Diogo Jota is given instructions by assistant manager Peter Krawietz during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 242nd Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have once again been injury-ravaged this season, no doubt playing a part in their struggles throughout the campaign.

At long last, there does appear to be a more positive outlook in the fitness department, though, giving Klopp more options.

Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk returned to the squad against Everton, with the latter set to start on Saturday.

Thiago, Luis Diaz and Ibrahima Konate are the Reds’ sidelined players at present.


4. How could Newcastle line up?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, August 31, 2022: Newcastle United's Alexander Isak during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Until recently, Newcastle had been extremely fortunate in the injury department, often being able to field the same starting XI every week.

Things have changed a little in that respect, however, and Howe could have to make do without a number of key players for the visit of Liverpool.

Bruno is suspended, while Joe Willock is out and Callum Wilson could only be fit enough for the bench.

Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron are fine after recovering from knocks.

Predicted Newcastle XI: Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Longstaff, Joelinton, Anderson; Almiron, Gordon, Isak.


5. Predicted Liverpool XI

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 6, 2022: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez (R) celebrates after Mohamed Salah (L) scores the opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp will surely be tempted to keep things the same after such an improved performance against Everton, although he may have one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

Van Dijk could come back into the team after a six-week layoff – throwing him straight back in against Real would feel like a big risk – with Joel Matip or Joe Gomez making way.

In midfield, the highly impressive Stefan Bajcetic should keep his place, while Naby Keita is an option to come in for Fabinho or Jordan Henderson.

The front three of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo looked slick in the derby and it would be a surprise if they didn’t start at St James’ Park.

Potential Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Bajcetic; Salah, Gakpo, Nunez.


6. Van Dijk “absolutely ready” to start

Speaking to the media on Friday, Klopp talked up Van Dijk’s chances of playing:

“I think so, yeah. Yesterday [Thursday] he looked absolutely ready.

“I think today [Friday] he will look the same and then we will make a decision.”

Imagine how big a difference a back-to-his-best Van Dijk would make for Liverpool!


7. Liverpool impressive at St James’ Park

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 4, 2019: Liverpool's Divock Origi scores the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St. James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

St James’ has become a fortress for Newcastle this season, undefeated at home, but Liverpool have good recent memories there.

The Reds have not tasted defeat in their last five trips, sealing a 1-0 triumph last season thanks to Keita’s well-taken goal late in the campaign.

There was also the famous late Divock Origi winner in a 3-2 victory in 2019, which took the title race to the last weekend, and their last St James’ loss came in 2015.

In fact, Liverpool are unbeaten against Newcastle both home and away in their last 12 meetings.


8. Did You Know?

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 30, 2022: Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin 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)

While Newcastle have been deservedly praised for their efforts this season, there have been signs of a dropoff in recent weeks.

Almost without noticing, the Magpies have only won one of their last six league games, drawing the other five and dropping 10 points.

That means that Howe’s team only have one point more than Liverpool during that period, who have been going through a crisis of results.

Are their legs starting to go? Have injuries taken their toll?

Saturday will be a massive gauge of where Newcastle are at now.


9. Manchester’s finest in charge!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 16, 2022: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker, Thiago Alcântara and Virgil van Dijk appeal to referee Anthony Taylor during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Manchester-born Anthony Taylor has been confirmed as the referee for Saturday’s game, while Chris Kavanagh is in charge of VAR. Make of that what you will!

Liverpool have fared fairly well with Taylor in charge this season, however, drawing 0-0 at Everton and winning 1-0 at home to Man City.

In his 16 Premier League matches in charge in 2022/23, he has shown 61 yellows cards, two reds and awarded three penalties.


10. Follow the match with TIA

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, February 13, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp punches the air as he celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 242nd Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Newcastle vs. Liverpool is live on Sky Sports Main Event from 4.30pm (GMT), with the match getting underway at 5.30pm.

Alternatively, This Is Anfield’s matchday live blog will be up and running from 4.45pm, with Sam Millne keeping you entertained.

Come on you Reds!