The Premier League weekend brings to us a thrilling clash between Newcastle United and Liverpool as the race at both ends of the table begins to heat up.
Newcastle United have been sitting comfortably in the Champions League spots ever since the season began and the Magpies are strengthening their position as the match weeks tick down. They currently sit in 4th place, two points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur in fifth and five points behind third-placed Manchester United. The Geordies are looking on course to return to the Champions League, returning to the premier European competition after almost two decades.
Since then, Newcastle have been relegated twice and were fighting for survival till the last season. The Saudi funded takeover has transformed the club and expectations are that they could be in for the title as soon as next season. For now, the Magpies will concentrate on finishing within the top four spots and returning to the Champions League after more than a decade. They face a Liverpool side who while languishing in a much lower place than expected, are always a dangerous opposition to face.
Liverpool have had a torrid season so far, with injuries and a lack of squad depth exposing the Merseyside Reds. With just 9 wins in 21 games, no one expected Jurgen Klopp’s men to be in the position they are now and a season without the Champions League or Europa League seems like a real prospect now. They currently sit in 9th place in the table, 9 points adrift of Saturday’s opposition and the Champions League place. However, the Reds will be high on belief and confidence heading into the tie after a win at home in the Merseyside Derby on Monday night.
Everton were playing just their second game under new manager Sean Dyche, having defeated league leaders Arsenal in the first, and Liverpool were quick to establish their dominance over their rivals. Everton created a few decent opportunities, but the Reds were more clinical than the visitors, scoring both goals off quick counter-attacks. After taking a 2-0 lead, Klopp’s side were more comfortable in possession, and the Toffees failed to create any threat allowing the hosts to see out all three points without much trouble in the end.
Liverpool were victorious over the two sides when they met in the reverse fixture at Anfield back in September. Newcastle United opened the scoring in the first half then through Alexander Isak, but the Reds answered back through Roberto Firmino in the second half. With both sides pushing for a winner, it seemed the game would end level, but Liverpool snatched all three points with the last kick of the game as Fabio Carvalho smashed in a shot off the bar in the very last minute. It was an all-round entertaining game and a similar game could be expected at St. James’ Park.
WHEN & WHERE?
Date: Saturday, 18th February 2023.
Time: 5.30 pm BST.
Venue: St. James’ Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Newcastle United suffered a triple blow in their draw against Bournemouth last weekend, with Joe Willock, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron all having to be forced off with injury concerns. While there are doubts over the availabilities of Almiron and Saint-Maximin, Joe Willock is set to be ruled out of the game against Liverpool with a hamstring injury. Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is suspended after receiving a straight red card two matches prior and will return to the squad for next week’s Carabao Cup final.
Similarly, defenders Javier Manquillo, Emil Krafth and Matt Targett are also set to miss out on Saturday. However, there is some good news for the Magpies, with striker Callum Wilson and defender Jamaal Lascelles could make a return to the squad as well, having missed out on last weekend’s draw.
Liverpool have struggled with injuries this season, but welcomed back three key players Virgil van Dijk, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino to the squad in Monday night’s win over Everton. However, central defender Ibrahima Konate, midfielder Thiago and forward Luis Diaz are expected to be absent on Saturday as they continue to recover from their issues.
The Swede has struggled with injuries all season, making only six appearances in the league so far. He has scored three goals in those six appearances, with the first one coming on his debut against Liverpool at Anfield in the reverse fixture. The 23-year-old is a prolific finisher and has the ability to score loads of goals, but injuries and fitness have held the striker back this season. Eddie Howe has been happy with how he has adapted to English football, and the manager will be hoping the Swede can repeat his performance from September against the Merseyside Reds.
Back among the goals on Monday night, Mohamed Salah notched up his first goal in six league games, since scoring on Boxing Day against Aston Villa. On Monday, Salah was on hand to score the opening goal for Liverpool against Everton, finishing off a blistering counter-attack. The Egyptian has not been at his best recently, but he looked his old self in the Merseyside Derby, and Liverpool fans as well as Jurgen Klopp will be hoping he can kick off from there and propel the Reds up the table.
The Liverpool attack has been boosted by the return of Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino along with Cody Gakpo breaking his duck for the club, and Klopp will hope they can play in tandem as we enter a crucial part of the season.
Newcastle United predicted XI vs Liverpool: Nick Pope; Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Sven Botman, Dan Burn; Anthony Gordon, Joelinton, Sean Longstaff; Allan Saint-Maximin, Alexander Isak, Miguel Almiron.
Liverpool predicted XI vs Newcastle United: Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Andrew Robertson; Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Stefan Bajcetic; Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo.