Liverpool vs. Newcastle: Complete Preview, Team News, Projected Lineups
Liverpool Football Club had its own highs and lows this past week.
First up was the embarrassing news of Ian Ayre offering “an apology” to Sean Cummins for the way the club’s director of communications, Jen Chang, had harassed him.
But before that, an intense derby marked by incidents, controversies and diving celebrations rocked Goodison Park.
And then, followed a disappointing home loss to Swansea City in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup, a competition in which Liverpool were the defending champs.
When Newcastle United arrive at L4 for Sunday's match, Brendan Rodgers and the Liverpool board will have a few interesting problems in their minds to deal with.
Such as, what is to make of Joe Cole and the other deadweights still at the club?
Will Fenway Sports Group deem it fit to provide Rodgers with a bit of money to help replenish a weakened squad?
Answers to these questions will determine Liverpool’s chances at cracking the top four.
Presently, they aren’t close to cracking anything at all, despite the manager’s efforts at trying to sell the contrary to the supporters.
Team Form: Liverpool
Liverpool’s cracking draw against Everton notwithstanding, the Reds have had a very slow start to the 2012-13 Premier League season.
However begrudging it might be, the result against Everton leaves Liverpool at a disappointing 12th position with 10 points in the bank.
This, coupled with the midweek defeat to Swansea City at home in the Capital One Cup, is sure to have a bad effect on team morale.
Brendan Rodgers has come under some criticism for his tactics of late, and the manager will be better off to avoid any of that in the longer run. And for him to do that, a good result against Newcastle United is essential.
Team Form: Newcastle United
Newcastle United have not had a good start to this season unlike last term, with the Magpies currently occupying 10th position in the league table with 13 points in the bank.
The opening-day victory against Spurs, the 1-0 result against Norwich in September and last week’s 2-1 result against West Brom are the only games where Newcastle has managed to grab all three points.
However, the good form shown by the club’s strikers leaves Alan Pardew, who this week praised Jose Mourinho for his influence on him, with less of a headache prior to the Anfield visit.
Liverpool will be without Lucas Leiva, Martin Kelly and Fabio Borini, who are the club’s long-term absentees.
Glen Johnson is a doubt for the clash with the English international, having yet to recover from his muscle injury.
Pepe Reina has an all-clear to take the field.
But will he feature? That is down to Rodgers, who now has a selection dilemma between Australian Brad Jones and the Spaniard.
For Newcastle, ace striker Demba Ba is doubtful for this fixture. The Senegalese international is down with a nerve trouble.
Left-back Ryan Taylor is ruled out with a long-term injury for Newcastle.
Rodgers has a decision to take on Stewart Downing.
The English winger put in a decent performance in the Europa League clash against Anzhi last week.
Younger players like Raheem Sterling or Suso are getting a lot of chances to prove themselves under their gaffer. But the risk of exposing them to injuries is one that Rodgers should have his eye on.
Therefore, he should consider a more judicious rotation process against the one currently in place.
Lineup: Newcastle United
Pardew has only once tried a different formation to the 4-4-2 he normally plays, doing so against Everton that ended in a draw.
He may or may not want to try that again. But be advised much of their play will be depending on quick counters via carefully hit long balls to their outside striker much like what Everton did.
If Liverpool fail to turn up on match day, much like the game against Swansea, then expect Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse to be the destructors-in-chief for the visitors.
Newcastle will also expect Vurnon Anita to help them in breaking up Liverpool’s tiki-taka.
A win would leave Liverpool level on points with their opponents and would lift them into the top half of the table for the first time this season. However, that depends on the result of Swansea’s match against Chelsea on Saturday.
Luis Suarez will once again be the key player to Liverpool, and expect the Reds to produce a strong performance although doubts over their defensive troubles remains.
A hard-fought victory for Reds with a second-half winner is in the cards.
However, if Newcastle do manage to pull off an upset, then expect the same scoreline but reversed to favour the visitors.
A victory would lift Newcastle to fifth position and level with Everton, depending on other results.
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