November 4, 2012; 16:00 CST
Liverpool have a chance to overtake Newcastle United in the league table as they host The Toons at Anfield on Sunday. After a thrilling Merseyside derby which Liverpool almost won but for a controversial offside goal, The Reds will be looking to capitalise on their home advantage to climb up the league table against a Newcastle side which has had an indifferent run of form. Liverpool have had an excellent record against Newcastle at Anfield, having been unbeaten for the last 17 games and having won 15 of them. Both sides are hopeful of a top 4 finish this season and the stakes going into this match are high.
Brendan Rodgers chose to rest some of his key players ahead of the Capital One Cup encounter against Swansea. The lack of depth in the squad showed and Liverpool surrendered tamely at home to an excellent Swansea side. The Reds had been playing well and were on a 4 game unbeaten run before the loss to the Swans. However, Rodgers will have all his big guns back for the weekend as his side looks to build on the unbeaten run in the Premier League.
Newcastle secured an important away win against West Bromwich Albion last weekend. Alan Pardew’s men now sit at the top half of the table and will be looking to build on last week’s win to mount a serious challenge for the top 4 spot. Alan Pardew has been able to build a competitive side thanks to some smart deals in the transfer market and with talents such as Ben Arfa and Demba Ba, Newcastle may well walk away from Anfield with 3 points in the bag.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Pepe Reina is expected to be back in goal after his absence from last week’s game. Glen Johnson’s fitness is a concern and he will face a late fitness test ahead of the match. Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Nuri Sahin are expected to be back in the line-up against Newcastle. Lucas Leiva, Fabio Borini and Martin Kelly remain long term absentees from the side. Lucas Leiva though is expected to be fit within another 3 weeks which will be a huge boost for Liverpool.
Brendan Rodgers used a 3-5-2 formation in the second half against Everton but is expected to start with his preferred 4-3-3 formation against Newcastle. Andre Wisdom is expected to continue at right back in Johnson’s absence. Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger remain permanent fixtures in the heart of the defence while Jose Enrique returns to the starting line-up after his injury lay-off.
The first choice midfield trio of Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen and Nuri Sahin are expected to start for Liverpool. Joe Allen looked tired at the end of the Swansea game during midweek and the manager may choose to rest him for this game.
Suarez has been in fine scoring form for Liverpool and he will be leading the line once again for The Reds. Sterling is expected to start on the left while Suso will take his place on the opposite flank. Suarez has shouldered much of the goal scoring responsibility and has already registered 6 goals in the league this season.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Allen, Sahin, Gerrard; Suso, Suarez, Sterling
Alan Pardew’s Newcastle side will be missing Chieck Tiote through suspension as he serves the second of his three match ban for his red card against Sunderland. Demba Ba’s fitness has been a concern and Pardew has said he is only 50-50 for this game.
Liverpool can expect a strong Newcastle line-up at Anfield. Alan Pardew prefers to play a traditional 4-4-2 but has been preferring to play a lopsided 4-4-2 midway through last season. Hatem Ben Arfa is the key man here as he drifts in from the right to play as an auxillary forward just behind the front two of Ba and Cisse. We may be in for a fascinating tactical battle as the two managers try to out think the other.
Newcastle’s back line put in a good defensive performance against West Bromwich and they will be looking for a repeat against Liverpool at Anfield. Tim Krul will be back in goal while Simpson is expected to continue at right back after his good showing last week. Coloccini and Taylor will be lining up in the centre of defence while Santon is expected to continue at left back in Ryan Taylor’s absence.
Newcastle’s talismanic midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa will be expected to start on the right but drift inside as the game progressed. Yohan Cabaye and James Perch shall be shielding the back four while supplying the balls for the forwards while Guttierez shall play down the left wing.
Cisse is certain to start while Ameobi may start if Demba Ba fails his fitness test. The Senegalese forward has been in fine form and Liverpool will be glad to see him on the bench. Cisse has not been as prolific in front of goal as last season and Newcastle’s results have been largely down to Ba’s exploits. Cisse must pick up his form if Newcastle hope to get a win against Liverpool for the first time in 18 years at Anfield.
Probable Starting Line-Up (4-4-2) Krul; Simpson, Coloccini, Taylor, Santos; Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Perch, Guttierez; Cisse, Ameobi
Players To Watch Out For
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s number 7 is already a firm favourite among the fans and Suarez’s histrionics last weekend in front of David Moyes would have endeared him to The Kop faithful even further. Luis Suarez has responded to the criticism levelled towards him in typical fashion and has answered his critics with goals. Suarez is pivotal to Liverpool’s fortunes and Brendan Rodgers will look towards his star man for goals against Newcastle. In the form that he is in, Suarez is unlikely to disappoint.
Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle)
Perhaps one of the most gifted footballers to come out from France in recent times, Hatem Ben Arfa has left many spellbound with his breathtaking skill. The attacking midfielder is a master technician and will be looking to exploit any weaknesses in the Liverpool defence. Playing as a floater, Ben Arfa is certain to cause a lot of problems for the back four of Liverpool.
Liverpool 2- 0 Newcastle
Anfield is no longer the fortress it used to be but Liverpool do seem to have a significant advantage against Newcastle at home. After a poor display against Swansea, Liverpool will be looking to bounce back and Rodgers will expect a response from his players. Newcastle have looked a little disjointed and without Demba Ba they will be lacking the attacking edge. We expect a 2-0 home win for Liverpool.
Blast From The Past