Tomorrow’s clash against Newcastle feels like kind of a big deal. Maybe it’s because Liverpool desperately needs a win. Maybe because we’re facing Rafa. Maybe it’s just the wistful melancholy that accompanies the beginning of fall. It’s hard to say, really.
Regardless, the Newcastle game feels consequential in a way that few games against sub-Top 4 teams do. And so we’re all trying to read the tea leaves and work through the match ahead of time. How will it shake out? Will our defenders be able to hold it all together? Who will make the difference for us tomorrow?
Inevitably, the eye turns to Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian playmaker is inarguably one of the most productive attackers in the squad, and has proven himself an indelible gamechanger in his four years at Anfield. Yet after the events of this past summer, fans feel a measure of wariness with Coutinho, and perhaps a reluctance to count on him in important games. (Not because he won’t perform to the best of his ability, which he will, but perhaps more that getting emotionally attached to a player who has indicated he wants to leave as soon as is feasible is not good for the soul.)
One person who has no qualms or question marks about Coutinho’s impact on he squad: Liverpool legend Terry McDermott. In a brief interview for the club website, the retired midfielder said Coutinho will be a thorn in Newcastle’s side all afternoon.
“Liverpool have got a lot of pace going forward but the Newcastle centre-backs are quick as well. If Coutinho plays and plays well you would fancy Liverpool to win because he is an exceptional player. He is a player that is capable of scoring 15 goals a season and if he can do that and the strikers contribute then we will win more games.”
McDermott also said the Newcastle game should be pretty exciting, although the points are definitely up for grabs.
“I’m looking forward to it because Liverpool have got to start turning those draws into wins. They are playing superbly well but drawing a few games, and it’s the three points we are after. Some of the football Liverpool have been playing is fantastic and it has been a pleasure to watch it when I’m working at the club for the home games. I’m sure they would take the three points over a good performance on Sunday, but the Liverpool way is to play well and get the three points so it’s a difficult one to call, especially after Liverpool have been away in Moscow in midweek.”
He also warned Liverpool not to underestimate this Newcastle side.
“If Liverpool play well I think they will win the game, but don’t rule out Newcastle because they will give them a real tough game. Rafa has got them well organised, he’s always done that wherever he has been, and all of the players know their jobs. Newcastle won three on the trot but then lost at Brighton last weekend so it will be a tough game for both sides.”
No matter how it shakes out, it doesn’t look like tomorrow’s game will be boring.