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LIVERPOOL

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NEWCASTLE UNITED

Anfield, Liverpool
May 1, 2011, 1200 hours GMT

Times have certainly changed since these two clubs delivered two thrilling matches in twelve months, sixteen years ago. Those matches are still replayed over and over again as two of Premier League’s greatest games. However, this fixture hasn’t disappointed over the years and has always been an exciting one – perhaps, one-sided at time – but thrilling nonetheless.

The reverse fixture earlier this season resulted in a 3-1 win for Newcastle United. So, how do you counter that result? Step one is to get rid of the manager that had his tactics all wrong. Step two is to buy the opposition’s best player on the day – Andy Carroll. The former Newcastle striker has, since then, made a British record-breaking transfer to Merseyside. And step three is to build momentum ahead of the game. Liverpool can check all these requirements and they will be looking forward to all three points this Sunday at Anfield.

Andy Carroll - a huge reason for Newcastle's downfall

Liverpool are currently sitting in sixth place, three points below Tottenham having played one game more than the London club. They are very much in the running for Europe – a remarkable fact given that they flirted in the relegation zone for quite a while this season. They enter this game on the back of their biggest win of the season – where they thumped a sorry Birmingham side by a five-goal margin. Prior to the Birmingham game, Liverpool had beaten Man City at home and produced an incredibly spirited draw at Arsenal. Things are certainly looking bright and King Kenny has done his ‘King’ tag no harm since taking over.

Newcastle, on the other hand, have gradually recovered from the major blow they received in the final few minutes of the January transfer window – the sale of their top striker. They are now placed eleventh in the league table having flirted with relegation danger for a while. However, Alan Pardew has steadied the ship with a couple of crucial draws and a victory in the last few matches. They can consider themselves to be safe and can start planning for next season – perhaps, by starting with a plan to spend Carroll’s fee.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Liverpool

Sixth-placed Liverpool cannot afford to drop points at home to Newcastle or else it will be a major blow to their European ambitions. The most telling aspect about the big win against Birmingham was that it was achieved without Gerrard, Carroll and Glenn Johnson; and with the young duo as full-backs. Kenny Dalglish has somehow discovered players in a squad that had been crying out for depth for years and perhaps, only perhaps, Liverpool’s youth are on their way to reviving the club’s glory days.

The club from Merseyside will be missing its captain Steven Gerrard for the remainder of the season due to a groin injury. Daniel Agger is another major casualty for Kenny Dalglish, but the young duo of John Flanagan and Jack Robinson have covered the injuries well till now. Former Newcastle striker Andy Carroll is a major doubt for the match and is unlikely to be risked.

Liverpool will setup the same way they did against Birmingham City, and with the same players. Lucas and Spearing will provide the shield in front of the defence and let the other four players in attack run Newcastle ragged. It was a common sight against Birmingham to see Suarez running the flanks while Maxi, Kuyt and Meireles bombard the box. Rodriguez will primarily be deployed on the left, while Meireles is expected to cover the right side of midfield in support of both Suarez and Kuyt – both of whom often pop-up on the right wing.

Probable starting XI: (4-4-2): Reina, Flanagan, Skrtel, Carragher, Robinson, Lucas, Spearing, Rodriguez, Meireles, Kuyt, Suarez


football formations

Newcastle United

Eleventh-placed Newcastle have a tough task on their hands. They were successful against Liverpool earlier in the season because of the Reds’ defensive approach and their own attacking approach. However, at Anfield, they are going to be facing a buoyant Liverpool side that will drive at Newcastle from the word go. So, the question will be how effective is Newcastle’s defensive play in such circumstances?

Ben Arfa might return before the end of the season, but Leon Best, Dan Gosling and Alan Smith will not feature again this season for the club from Tyneside. Recent injury to on-loan Stephen Ireland means his game time this season is cut short and he will be out until next season.

Pardew will be looking towards one of the signings of the season, defensive midfielder Cheik Tiote, to provide the shield in front of Newcastle’s defence. His partnership with Kevin Nolan will be the key to achieving success for Newcastle in this game. They need to overpower the midfield of Spearing, Lucas and Meireles. Pardew may revert to a 4-5-1 formation but is likely to stick to a 4-4-2 with one of the two strikers playing as a pushed midfielder.

Probable starting XI: (4-4-2): Krul, Williamson, Coloccini, Enrique, Simpson, Nolan, Tiote, Barton, Guiterrez, Ameobi, Lovenkrands

Key Facts

1. Liverpool are the only Premier League club to have scored in all their Premier League fixtures (16) in 2011. (via BBC )

2. Liverpool average fewer Premier League points in May than any of the other traditional ‘Big Four’ sides. (via OptaStats)

3. The Magpies have won just two of their last 13 Premier League matches. (via OptaStats)

TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

He has created a buss around Anfield with his dynamic display, exquisite skills and a brilliant change of speed. He has become the heartbeat of today’s Liverpool and is expected to continue his great form. TheHardTackle tells you to keep an eye on the lad from Uruguay. He’s bound to impress you!

The reason why the Kop has moved on from their El Nino break-up

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle

Liverpool have found an all-new hunger since they have started smelling a European feast nearby. They are expected to knock off Newcastle and hope Tottenham drop points at Stamford Bridge. This could be a massive weekend in the fight for Europe and Kenny Dalglish’s side will leave no stone unturned in achieving their three-point target in this match.

TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST

An absolute classic.