Liverpool vs. Newcastle
| Saturday, September 14th |
Premier League | Anfield
12:30PM BST / 7:30AM EST
The good stuff is back. Two weeks of international break darkness is over. And the Liverpool match is the first to kick off a glorious weekend of Premier League football. Newcastle United travel to Anfield with big dreams of stealing points from Jürgen Klopp’s league leaders. It’ll be a first visit as Newcastle manager for Steve Bruce but the Northumberland native has stood on the Anfield touchline under other inauspicious circumstances as well. Bruce is a journeyman manager. A real renaissance man of being sacked and rehired in an endless loop. Maybe he’s a nice guy?
Wigan, Sunderland, Hull City, the new, bad Aston Villa, and now a shaky Newcastle team, distressed by Rafa Benitez having left over the summer and owner Mike Ashley’s unwillingness to invest in the team. Where there’s trouble, there’s Bruce.
Newcastle are dealing with several injured players following the opening four fixtures. One is Andy Carroll, who I’ll remember forever for that low rocket against Manchester City in 2011. He scored two that game and Liverpool won 3-0. Raul Meireles was there. It was a good day.
New French winger Allan Saint-Maximin is also out for Bruce. Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle have both been out for a spell and are expected to remain unavailable for the weekend. And most recently, key midfielder Sean Longstaff will miss the trip to Merseyside, having messed up his ankle in training.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Adrián; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mané, Firmino, Salah
Klopp will have a full compliment of senior players to choose from, save for Alisson and the unfortunate Naby Keita. There are a few positions where Klopp may choose to rotate and look to bring in the guys who haven’t featured much so far. None of those positions are expected to be in the front three, though.
Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah should all keep building their performances together and make sure they have it going on ahead of the first Champions League group stage match on Tuesday against Napoli.
Joël Matip or Joe Gomez? Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Jordan Henderson or Gini Wijnaldum?
Xherdan Shaqiri started this fixture last December and scored the third of Liverpool’s four goals that day. Maybe Klopp thinks Shaqiri will do it again. The manager has spoken before about needing to change the formation a bit to accommodate Shaqiri’s best attributes. Maybe, at home to Newcastle is Shaqiri’s jelly. I would have put him in the projected lineup, but I didn’t want to seem insane.
I would like to see Xherdan get some substitute minutes in this one. Same for Divock Origi. If not for them, then to give two of Mané, Firmino or Salah a rest, with an eye on Napoli.
Liverpool are in good form. Alisson’s injury has complicated that but Adrián is playing well. Newcastle aren’t the disaster yet that we expected this season. Steve Bruce has pulled the team together in the wake of Rafa’s departure but injuries are limiting his options. Saturday’s match is a great opportunity for Liverpool to win early, perhaps boost some goal tallies, and see it out.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “It will not be easy. That’s what people will expect, probably.”
Steve Bruce: “Up front they’re as good as I’ve seen, so we’ll have to defend well.”
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistant referees: Scott Ledger, Simon Long
Fourth official: Andy Madley
VAR: Mike Dean
Assistant VAR: Dan Robathan
Kickoff is set for 12:30PM GMT/7:30AM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.