April 13, 2015; 20.00
Anfield, Anfield Road, Liverpool
The mid-week win over Blackburn has breathed some, if very little, life back into the Liverpool camp. The loss to Manchester United and the humiliation, not just loss, to Arsenal had understandably set a very gloomy mood for the club as their prospects of a top-4 finish had all but ended. The win over Blackburn would certainly lift them a little since the chance to end an otherwise disappointing season with a trophy is inviting. However, Liverpool must be dreading facing Aston Villa in the semi-final when Sherwood’s team is in such deft touch, with Christian Benteke scoring five goals in three games, including the winner against Spurs this weekend. Anyhow, that is the focus for the weekend. For now, Brendan Rodgers’ men need to focus on Newcastle’s visit to Anfield. Three points will restore them back in the fifth place and help them keep little pressure on the two Manchester clubs, the loser of which could be five (United) or four (City) points ahead of the Merseysiders if Liverpool win the game.
Liverpool’s prime problem in the last two weeks and largely this season has been the lack of firepower in front. The Reds have scored just four goals in their last five matches. Their highest league scorers – Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson – have six goals apiece, a shameful stat considering last season, Martin Skrtel had seven goals in the league. Daniel Sturridge has been in poor form since returning from a five month injury and he can’t be blamed for not getting into his prolific best after such a long absence. It is not his fault that the rest of Liverpool’s attackers have not provided the Reds with plenty goals in his absence. However, he is likely to stay in the side because the Merseysiders don’t have any other natural goal scorers and Sturridge still remains better than the rest of them.
The big question for Rodgers will be whether to start four at the back, like against Blackburn, or revert back to the three man back-line, which seems to have been found out by the opposition. Emre Can will return back to the side after serving his one match suspension. But Mamadou Sakho has been ruled out for two weeks after suffering a hamstring problem in the game against Blackburn. Three at the back could mean Can, Toure and Lovren start together.
Liverpool will be boosted with the return of Jordan Ibe, a player who has put on scintillating performances since being recalled from loan. Ibe’s return will be important for the business end of the season. Jon Flanagan could be included in the side but Alberto Moreno looks likely to keep his place as left-back. Martin Skrtel and Steven Gerrard will serve the final match of their three-game bans. Adam Lallana is still missing through injury.
Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Mignolet; Johnson, Can, Lovren, Moreno; Lucas, Henderson, Allen; Sterling, Coutinho; Sturridge
The visitors are not on a confident run themselves having lost four matches in a row. They now face the daunting task of facing a hurt side at Anfield and getting a favorable result themselves. It looks an even steeper ask because Newcastle United have not won a Premier League fixture at Anfield since 1994.
Defeat to Sunderland last time out would have hurt Newcastle and there is only one way to appease the loyal fans who looked so aghast after the Sunderland game – beat Liverpool.
One of the reasons why Newcastle’s recent form has been so terrible is because of the amount of players they have out at the moment, and the constant reshuffling Carver is having to do with the list of absentees.
Newcastle defender Daryl Janmaat, who has been linked with a move to Liverpool, suffered an injury scare after enduring a suspected tear to a calf muscle against Sunderland on Sunday. However, he is likely to keep his place in the team as he appears to not have suffered any lasting ill-effects. The player will be employed in the centre of the defence as skipper Fabricio Coloccini will complete his three-match ban. Striker Papiss Cisse will serve his fourth game of his seven match ban. Newcastle will be boosted by the fact that midfielders Rolando Aarons (hamstring) and Siem de Jong (collapsed lung) have returned to training, but they’re unlikely to be feature at all, against Liverpool.
Newcastle can of course, give Liverpool a tough night and should exploit Liverpool’s recent weak form. The Magpies performed admirably against Manchester United, a game they lost due to a very late mistake from Tim Krul, and against Arsenal, a game they looked to certain to salvage in the second half. The likes of Sissoko, Anita and Colback need to ensure Liverpool are absolutely not allowed to press because once they get their pressing working, they dominate games. If Newcastle can counter-press them from the first minute, a tough task indeed, they too can reduce their effectiveness to zero – as illustrated by Manchester United and Arsenal recently.
Probable Line-up (4-2-3-1): Krul; Taylor, Janmaat, Williamson, Colback; Sissoko, Anita; Gouffran, Ameobi, Cabella; Perez
- Newcastle United have conceded at least once in their last 19 Premier League games at Anfield.
- Newcastle have lost four successive Premier League games. They have only ever been on one longer streak (six games in March-April 2014).
- Liverpool had scored 84 goals at this stage last season, 39 more than they have currently.
Player to look out for
The 22-year old Brazilian has recently been the only Liverpool player to look worth more than 100k a week. Since the turn of the year, Coutinho has performed in absolutely mermerizing ways and scored some screamers in the process. Teams have often shut him out of the game and ensured Liverpool don’t get a strong grasp of momentum and this method has provided results as Liverpool have been found handicapped without their best player being involved fully. If the Reds get a result against Carver’s side, Coutinho will certainly be very involved.
Liverpool 2 Newcastle United 1
Expect Liverpool to get a win, but with Newcastle making life very difficult for them. Only a scrap-by.