Steve McLaren’s stuttering Newcastle United will host an upbeat Liverpool on Sunday evening at St. James Park in what promises to be a crucial month for both sides in terms of setting the tone for the second half of the season. Newcastle United find themselves closer to the bottom of the pile than ever, in 19th position and just with 10 points accrued from 14 games, it’s time they got their act together. Conceding 8 in the last two games, the Magpies have managed to get 7 points from the last 6 outings, two wins and a draw in that run but they will go into this game on the back of a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of former boss Alan Pardew at Selhurst Park. Having won just 1 home game all season, the impressive 6-2 against Norwich which seems ages ago now, Newcastle United and Steve McLaren do face a daunting task on Sunday when they face a totally revamped Liverpool side.
Liverpool, on the other hand, are buoyant with back to back wins in the league, the fantastic 1-6 away win in the league cup at St. Mary’s which makes it the 3rd impressive away result under new manager Jurgen Klopp. The German has slowly yet surely imposed his own combative, counter-pressing style on Liverpool which is now working wonders and Liverpool as a result are firing on all cylinders. They will make the trip to St.James’ Park after a busy week or ten days now with wins against Man City, Bordeaux and Southampton under the belt. They now sit 6th in the league but only 4 points stand between them and 4th placed Arsenal and a win on Sunday can do a world of good ahead of another busy month of fixtures for Liverpool football club.
Newcastle United find themselves in the middle of an injury crisis with up to ten players out of Sunday’s fixture suffering problems of various degrees. Midfielder Tiote could make a return in two weeks and he is closest to do so which says something about the bleak situation at Newcastle United now. Goalkeeper Krul is out with an ACL and forward Riviere might need an operation which will sideline him for another 3 weeks. Williamson, Obertan and Taylor have hamstring issues that will rule them out until new year.
Two key injuries for Klopp ahead of Sunday have come in the form of Phillipe Coutinho who is out with a hamstring problem and defender Mamadou Sakho whose knee troubles could see him miss the rest of the year. Meanwhile, the German was boosted by the goal-scoring return of star striker Daniel Sturridge at St. Mary’s, who should be in line to make it to the starting eleven on Sunday. Midfielder Emre Can will serve his one-match suspension on Sunday.
The last time the sides met was back in April when Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners at Anfield thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen.
James Milner will return to St James’ this weekend, the club at which he spent four years between 2004-2008.
The Magpies have registered just one victory in their last seven Premier League games at St. James’ Park (D3 L3).
Key Men Comparison
Ayoze Perez (Newcastle United) v Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
Ayoze Perez has been doing really well in what by all accounts is a poorly performing team this season. He’s scored 3 goals, creating 12 chances in 12 appearances, he’s the best hope Newcastle United have going forward. Obviously tracked by a number of big clubs in England and Europe, he needs to be able to shine brighter in this squad (not difficult) which is why he will hold the key to Newcastle United’s chances against Liverpool.
The return of Daniel Sturridge cannot have come at a better time, when the club is entering a crucial month, usually piled up with fixtures than the rest of Europe. And what better way to announce that than scoring a brace in a cup quarter-final? Sturridge is still one of the best strikers in the league, when fit and he could show why he is on Sunday, when Liverpool travel to play a struggling and incoherent Newcastle United side.
A facile away victory, for me. Steve McLaren is in trouble.
Newcastle United 0-2 Liverpool