October wasn't an overwhelmingly successful month for Liverpool, with two losses in the Champions League and a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Hull City, but if we're looking for silver linings, they manage to win three of six on offer despite not being at their best, and in each of those matches they had to find a winner after conceding an equalizer or going down a goal.
Brendan Rodgers loves to talk about character and strength, and a couple of humbling outings in Europe and difficult league fixtures will hopefully have steeled his side for another challenging month.
It starts tomorrow on Tyneside, where they face a Newcastle side who've managed a significant turnaround in the last few weeks. One of the league's worst through the opening weeks, they're now just four points back of Liverpool after wins against Leicester City and Spurs. Their momentum continued midweek with a convincing win at Manchester City in the League Cup; Alan Pardew rang in the changes against a nearly full-strength City side and still came away winners, and now the fourth-year boss is back in a comfortable spot after weeks of uncertainty.
He'll have a handful of injuries to contend with tomorrow, though, as Papiss Cisse is questionable and both Cheick Tiote and Mike Williamson are expected to miss out again. The lineup at Spurs is likely the template for Pardew even though Wednesday night's squad was impressive; that means Tim Krul in goal, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Daryl Janmaat, and Paul Dummett across the back, Moussa Sissoko, Vernon Anita, Jack Colback, Gabriel Obertan, and Yoan Gouffran in the midfield, and Ayoze Perez up front if Cisse is again unavailable.
Manquillo Skrtel Lovren Moreno
Borini Balotelli Sterling
Rodgers confirmed yesterday that Jose Enrique is out with a knee injury, meaning he joins Daniel Sturridge, Suso, Mamadou Sakho, and Jon Flanagan on the absentee list. No other new or unexpected fitness concerns emerged midweek, however, meaning that the squad is in decent enough shape ahead of a busy week.
There will surely be changes throughout from the side that started on Tuesday night; Simon Mignolet will come back in goal, while Javier Manquillo, Martin Skrtel, and Alberto Moreno will likely retake their spots across the back line to join Dejan Lovren. Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling will surely start after being left out of the squad to face Swansea, with Lazar Markovic, Rickie Lambert, and Lucas likely making way. Emre Can and Joe Allen should also be in contention after neither featured midweek.
Gerrard will likely be deeper in midfield with Jordan Henderson and one of Philippe Coutinho or Adam Lallana--guessing Lallana here given that Coutinho played a full 90 midweek, has looked good off the bench, and has been most likely to get rest of the "regular" first-teamers, but it could also be one of Can or Allen--more advanced, while Sterling will ideally start on the left opposite Fabio Borini. Rodgers seems hesitant to go with the diamond while Sturridge is out, and Borini managed to still get himself into dangerous areas on Tuesday while playing in a right-sided role. Sterling was largely absent in a right-sided role against Hull, so a chance for Borini and a shift to the left will ideally work to the strengths of both. Mario Balotelli will start up front and hopefully build on his equalizer midweek with a strong showing here.
Kickoff is set for 12:45PM BST/8:45AM EST, with BT Sport airing the match in England and NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra carrying coverage in the US. Our coverage will start with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into the matchday post early tomorrow, which will have team sheets an hour before kickoff. Hope you'll be around to join us--if you haven't already, sign up for an SBNation profile and stick around.