Liverpool will be aiming to consolidate their place atop the Premier League standings when they welcome Newcastle United to Anfield on Saturday.
The dreaded international break is over and club football fans will rejoice that the sides they support are finally set to return to action. Gameweek 5 of the 2019-20 Premier League season will begin with the leaders taking the field first up, with Liverpool playing hosts to Newcastle United at Anfield on Saturday.
Liverpool have been on a roll at the start of the season. The Merseyside club have won each of their four Premier League games so far while also pipping Chelsea to UEFA Super Cup glory last month. The Reds have already built up a two-point lead atop the table ahead of champions Manchester City, and there are signs that the title fight could be contested between the two clubs yet again.
Liverpool’s most recent success coming in a comfortable 3-0 win over Burnley just before the international break, a victory which ensured they have pocketed the 12 points thus far. Newcastle United, on the other hand, have made a rather decent start to the season, considering the modest expectations from the side following the departure of Steve Bruce.
The departure of Rafael Benitez was seen as a bitter blow for the Magpies, who regularly punched well above their weight under the Spaniard. But, the defensive outlook of Steve Bruce has helped their cause as after narrowly being beaten by Arsenal in their first game, Newcastle beat Tottenham 1-0, while holding Watford to a 1-1 draw; the 3-1 loss at Norwich City is their only blemish so far.
The corresponding fixture last season had ended in a straightforward 4-0 win for Liverpool, with Dejan Lovren, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho coming up with the goods for the hosts. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp has seen his squad return unscathed following the international break. In fact, the Liverpool manager has welcomed a first-team player back to training this week, with Naby Keita recovering from the calf injury that has bothered him in the first month of the season ahead of the visit of Newcastle United.
The Guinean midfielder though, is likely to be eased back into action, especially with games starting to come thick and fast starting this month. Meanwhile, the only notable absentee for Liverpool this weekend is first-choice goalkeeper Alisson, who is recovering from a groin injury sustained on the opening day of the season.
Nathaniel Clyne is a long-term absentee, although the Englishman is a backup option anyway. In Alisson’s absence, summer arrival Adrian will continue to feature between the sticks for Liverpool, and the Spaniard will hope to keep the errors at bay when Newcastle come visiting.
The defensive line in front of Adrian is unlikely to see any change. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson ought to be the full-back pairing, while Joel Matip should continue start ahead of Joe Gomez at the heart of the Liverpool defence. Matip will partner Virgil van Dijk, who is reportedly set to be rewarded with a bumper new deal.
The midfield unit is unlikely to see a change either, with Fabinho reprising the holding midfield role. Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum will support Fabinho defensively, although the Liverpool captain will also take up more advanced positions and attack the half spaces in front of the Newcastle defence.
Up ahead in attack, there is no looking past the indomitable trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, even though Firmino arrived late after representing Brazil during the international break. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how Mane and Salah combine after tempers flared when the former was taken off against Burnley.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Unlike Jurgen Klopp, Steve Bruce has a major injury crisis on his hands ahead of the trip to face Premier League leaders Liverpool. The Newcastle United boss will be without as many as seven first-team players when his side takes the field at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.
The key absentee for the Magpies this weekend will be Sean Longstaff. The 21-year-old, who this week admitted to being affected by talks of a potential move to Manchester United, will not feature against Liverpool after twisting his ankle in training.
Apart from Longstaff, Matt Ritchie (ankle), Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Andy Carroll (match fitness), Dwight Gayle (unspecified), DeAndre Yedlin (groin) and Florian Lejeune (knee) also remain unavailable for Newcastle. Fabian Schar had been a concern following the Watford game. But, the Swiss international is crucially fit and available.
Schar should walk into the side in what will be a back five, with Bruce staying true to nature by adopting a defence first attitude. The three-man central defensive partnership should be completed by Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles and Paul Dummett, who has been successfully converted into a centre-back by Bruce.
In place of Yedlin, summer signing Emil Krafth seems to have nailed down his place on the right side of the Newcastle United defence, while Jetro Willems is a certain starter in the absence of Ritchie. The back five will provide cover to Martin Dubravka, who should be a busy man in goal against the mighty Liverpool attack.
Isaac Hayden will be tasked with holding the fort in front of the backline, with former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey likely to be his partner in the absence of Longstaff. Shelvey will provide the creative impetus whenever Newcastle get the ball, aiming to link up with the men out wide as well as central striker Joelinton.
Christian Atsu and Miguel Almiron will provide the forward impetus from the flanks, with the guile of the latter providing the visitors an X-Factor against Liverpool. Finally, as iterated earlier, record buy Joelinton will lead the line for Newcastle.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Willems; Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu; Joelinton
1. Liverpool Clean Sheet – YES @ 1.66
2. Sadio Mane to score anytime @ 1.72
1. Under 1.5 Match Goals @ 5.50
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their past 23 home league games against the Magpies (W19, D4) and have scored in each of those matches. In fact, the Reds have netted a staggering 98 goals in the Premier League against Newcastle.
- Liverpool are vying to become only the fourth English team to win 14 consecutive top-flight matches and the first to score more than once in each game.
- Newcastle United are winless in 27 top-flight away matches against teams starting the day top of the table since beating Derby County in 1972 (D5 L22).
- Steve Bruce has won only one of his 12 Premier League fixtures as a manager at Anfield (D7 L4).
- Liverpool star Sadio Mane has never lost in 50 games that he has played at Anfield (W40 D10).
Player to Watch
While there has been very little stopping Liverpool so far, there has been a minor chink in their solid armour in the early days of the season. The Reds look somewhat vulnerable at the back, something that their opponents have looked to pounce on thus far.
With a smart striker in Joelinton leading the line for Newcastle, the Reds could have a worrisome afternoon to look forward to. The Brazilian forward will also look to take advantage of the fact that Liverpool will have an inferior goalkeeper (to Alisson) in Adrian starting between the sticks, and the Spaniard’s obvious weaknesses could be exploited best by the summer signing.
This could perhaps be Newcastle’s best chance to break their recent duck against Liverpool. But, they will need Joelinton to be at his best when they take the field on Saturday.
Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle United
We have quite an intriguing fixture to kick off Gameweek 5 of the Premier League season this week. While Liverpool appear to be unstoppable, Newcastle United are showing that they are not to be taken lightly despite the loss of Rafael Benitez in the summer.
The shock win over Tottenham served a timely reminder that they can spring a surprise or two under Steve Bruce as well. But, against the all conquering Liverpool attack, we expect the Magpies to crumble defensively, much like how Norwich City got the better of them last month.
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah should be in the mood to resume their charge for the Golden Boot and while defence poses a bit of a concern, Newcastle are unlikely to trouble Virgil van Dijk & co. much. The Hard Tackle predicts Liverpool to cruise to a 3-0 win to stretch their lead atop the Premier League table before champions Manchester City take the field later on in the day.