St.James’ Park, Newcastle
11.12.2010, 22:55 IST – Live on ESPN
The transfer window is drawing close, but it looks like Newcastle United have ventured out and got a new manager, prior to delving into player transfers. It has been a really tough week for the club; first with Newcastle’s 3-1 loss to West Bromwich Albion away from home, and then the apoplexic sacking of Chris Hughton. Fortunes are slowly growing dark at St.James’ park, with the club now retreating to the 12th spot on the table (5 points out of a possible 18). Come Saturday, new manager Alan Pardew will have to weave some magic when a resurgent Liverpool team will step on the pitch. Owner Mike Ashley has pinched the club at a point when it was beginning to settle into the top flight again; but with everyone at the club and city now caught in a realm of shock, only a strong show of grit and determination against Roy Hodgson’s side will reignite the fighting spirit.
Although on paper there seems to be a lot of bustling activity at Liverpool, Roy Hodgson has not only managed to achieve results in and out of the Premier League recently, but has also built a team that now reeks of composure and confidence. The talk about Gerrard, Carragher and Torres not being able to feature in the games off late has not really surfaced, which is a good sign for the rest of the squad and the manager. It is this team that is going to be marching into Newcastle to secure a victory that will see the club’s further ascent in the League table. Liverpool are now just 10 points behind league leaders Arsenal, and a win at St.James’ park is a step closer to the top four bracket. An away game also gives the Merseysiders a chance to improve their record on foreign turf, one aspect that hasn’t been addressed seriously so far this season.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The Magpies don’t have any injury scares going into Saturday’s fixture against Liverpool. In fact, midfielder Joey Barton returns from a groin injury following his three match suspension. First choice keeper Steve Harper is on the road to recovery; but lack of match fitness renders the keeper absent from the starting lineup, which means that second choice keeper Tim Krul will be guarding Newcastle’s goal against the Reds. Kevin Nolan is also expected to make the roster after missing out against the Baggies last week. Argentine defender Fabricio Coloccini is serving the final game of this three match ban and hence will not feature against the Reds.
Following his appointment as the new manager at Tyneside, Alan Pardew quoted: “I have always managed teams that have played attacking positive football, something I know the supporters here appreciate.”. This statement clearly echoes Newcastle’s game plan against Liverpool this weekend.
The onus will lie on Gutierrez and Routledge to give Liverpool’s full backs a hard time. Paul Konchesky didn’t really have his best game against Spurs when he was up against Aaron Lennon and now with Wayne Routledge being a likeminded player, Konchesky should be one step ahead in his game.
Andrew Carroll has a fanastic season at Tyneside and his diminutive form has caught the eye of some big clubs in the country. New manager Alan Pardew however, has no intentions of cashing in on his star player and will instead turn to him to bring in the goals. With Kyriagkos and Carroll locking horns in front of the Liverpool goal, there is bound to be a great aerial contest in prospect.
Possible Starting XI: Krul, Simpson, Taylor, Perch, Enrique, Gutierrez, Barton, Tiote, Routledge, Carroll, Nolan.
Names are slowly getting crossed off Liverpool’s injury list, but it is going to take a little while more before Roy Hodgson is spoilt for choice. Skipper Steven Gerrard’s return is prolonged for another week, while Daniel Agger has hit the training grounds to regain fitness, which means the duo will stay back at home.
Joe Cole is back to full match fitness and will be available for selection, while Fernando Torres also returns to the travelling squad, now becoming a proud father too. This would mean that Ryan Babel will take the bench for the fixture.
Whether these are mind games or not is unknown, but Hodgson has alerted his team of the initial boost that a new manager can give to the team. However, with his own squad now coming together to form a nucleus, the Gaffer won’t really mull over too much when it comes to selecting a starting eleven. Liverpool walk into this fixture following a three goal thumping over Aston Villa earlier this week, and Roy will again be instructing the lads to pile on the pressure right from the beginning. The early goal remains the key to capitalize on the game. Hence Newcastle’s defence must be on guard for the first few minutes, as Liverpool’s attack will not waste a single opportunity to cause damage.
Possible Starting XI: Reina, Kyriagkos, Skrtel, Johnson, Koncheskey, Kuyt, Lucas, Meireles, Maxi, Ngog, Torres.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Andrew Carroll (Newcastle): Having scored in some big games this season, the 6’3″ striker has proved why he is worthy of donning the No.9 shirt. His fine form makes him The Hard Tackle’s Player to Watch Out For.
Will Carroll Score Again?
Newcastle United 1 – 2 Liverpool FC
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST