The Saturday lunchtime match sees two old foes in the form of Newcastle and Liverpool go head to head at St. James Park. Much has changed for the two sides since the days in which they were amongst the title contender’s year in, year out in the 1990’s. The epic 4-3 battles will always go down as some of the greatest Premier League matches ever but it’s all about the present now and who can grab the points on the weekend. Both teams go into the game after hard-fought wins in the Capital One Cup in midweek, so it should be an interesting clash in terms of the teams and tactics chosen.
Newcastle head into the game in 14th place and after not winning any of their first seven games, they are now unbeaten in their four matches and have won three in a row in all competitions. The mood has changed slightly with Pardew reportedly close to becoming the first manager to be shown the door this season, but the win against Leicester a few weeks ago was exactly what he and his team needed to kick-start their season. Since then, they have come from behind to beat Spurs 2-1 at White Hart Lane last weekend and pulled off a huge shock by beating Capital One Cup holders Man City at the Etihad 2-0 to progress to the quarter-finals. A resurgence in form means that they cannot be taken lightly on the weekend, with a chance to jump up the table, possibly into the top half if results go their way.
Liverpool’s form and performances have been inconsistent so far but the Reds have gained eight points from the last 12 in the league and progressed into the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup thanks to a late comeback which saw Balotelli and Lovren grab late goals to help their team win 2-1 on the night. They will be grateful that the game didn’t go into extra time with matches coming thick and fast, with a trip to Real Madrid next week on the cards. They will be rueing missed opportunities however from their last home game against Hull City, in which they should’ve grabbed all three points but will look to make amends against Newcastle this Saturday.
Newcastle’s biggest concern is that of Papiss Cisse’s knee injury which has kept him out of the last two matches. The Senegalese international will undergo a late fitness test to determine his availability for the game but if not, Ayoze Perez is likely to lead the line having grabbed the winning goal against Spurs. De Jong is a long term absentee due to a thigh injury and Davide Santon is likely to make a comeback from his knee problem at the end of next month.
Daniel Sturridge is again out of action for at least another week having injured his calf a fortnight ago. This will mean Balotelli is likely to start the match with Fabio Borini an option as a second striker. Jose Enrique has also been ruled out of their clash against his former club after suffering a slight knee injury. Sakho is missing due it a hip injury until early November with Suso and Flanagan being long term absentees.
- There has been 54 goals in the last 16 top-flight meetings between these sides with 11 of those matches being won by Liverpool.
- Newcastle had three players sent off in the two league meetings with Liverpool last season.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in the last four Premier League meetings between the two sides with two wins and two draws.
- Liverpool have scored eight goals in their last two away meetings against Newcastle.
- Both sides have had the same results in their last five games, each winning twice, drawing twice and losing once.
Recent Head to Heads
2013/2014 Sun 11 May Liverpool 2 – 1 Newcastle
2013/2014 Sat 19 Oct Newcastle 2 – 2 Liverpool
2012/2013 Sat 27 Apr Newcastle 0 – 6 Liverpool
2012/2013 Sun 04 Nov Liverpool 1 – 1 Newcastle
2011/2012 Sun 01 Apr Newcastle 2 – 0 Liverpool
2011/2012 Fri 30 Dec Liverpool 3 – 1 Newcastle
Newcastle: Gabriel Obertan
After scoring what could be one of the most important goals for Newcastle and Alan Pardew this season, the winner against Leicester a fortnight ago has shown that Gabriel Obertan can make an impact if given the chance. His man of the match performance against Leicester provided a real boost to the Newcastle team and boosted his chances of playing regular first team football after being a fringe player for much of last season. As well as scoring a vital goal the match before that against Swansea he provided his only assist against Swansea, helping Newcastle get a draw. Obertan offers directness and ability to take on defenders which is something that the Newcastle players have lacked this season and with seven of his 12 take on attempts this season being successful he has shown that he offers a real threat to defenders. Obertan will be looking to prove himself and make sure he can become an established first team player at the club.
Liverpool: Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli, who has been made a scapegoat by the media for his poor performances since joining Liverpool, showed he can be a real game changer after coming as a substitute in the Capital One Cup game against Swansea and inspiring Liverpool to a late comeback, while also ending his goal drought in the process. It is just Balotelli’s second goal since joining Liverpool but he is yet to score in the Premier League for them with both goals coming in cup competitions. Balotelli has scored only one goal in his last 21 appearances in the Premier league which includes the last year of his spell with Man City, showing that his poor form in the Premier League dates back to his last spell with Man City. People may argue that Balotelli hasn’t had any luck since joining Liverpool, missing some great opportunities which you would expect a player of his quality to score any day of the week and with only 43% of his shots being accurate he will probably hope to have a bit of luck to help him get his first Premier League goal for Liverpool.
I can see this one being a high scoring draw because of the way the two teams have come into the game. Both will have confidence and will not sit back and let the opposition dominate. Chances will come thick and fast and it will rest upon who takes advantage of their openings.
My Prediction: Newcastle Utd 2-2 Liverpool
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