NEWCASTLE VS. LIVERPOOL
| Saturday, April 30th |
Premier League | St. James’ Park
12:30PM GMT/7:30AM EST
Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson, the Magpies’ top scorer this season, are still out with injury for Newcastle. Ryan Frasier has “been on grass” but not yet trained, so is unlikely to feature Saturday.
Newcastle have improved markedly since Eddie Howe took over following the takeover of the club (and ensuing refresh). Newcastle are difficult to play at home, and they have been on a good run of late: they come into this game in ninth, winning their last four after losing heavily to Tottenham.
While they have been on an excellent run — before the January transfer window refresh they had been in serious danger of going down — they have yet to gain points against any of the top six sides (broadly defined), losing to the aforementioned Tottenham 5-1 and to Chelsea (1-0). In late December they lost to Manchester City (0-4) and drew with Manchester United (1-1), both at home.
Incidentally, this period they did do a double over Everton, with an aggregate score of 4-1.
They are a more solid defensive side than Eddie Howe sides of the past, looking to concede fewer counter-attacking goals than Howe’s Bournemouth did. While on paper Liverpool should have too much for Newcastle, the outside noise arguably makes this one of Liverpool’s most difficult remaining games: Liverpool’s tight fixture schedule paired with Newcastle’s form and optimism will make this a challenge.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Keïta, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Díaz
Bobby Firmino is out at the weekend, as his injury, while nothing serious, has taken him time to recover from. Kostas Tsimikas returned to training Thursday after an illness, and Curtis Jones is still out.
The Reds will be buoyed by Jürgen Klopp’s new contract, which will keep the title-winning manager at Liverpool until 2026 at the earliest. Aside from the obvious, a major positive can only be helpful for the side’s mentality as they have a tight turnaround between the Wednesday Champions League semi-final first leg and the early match on Saturday (a turnaround which will no longer be scheduled next season, out of fairness for teams competing in Europe).
While the fixture congestion has made us expect a rotated side for a game in this period, Klopp has largely kept the rotations to the minimum. Fabinho is a likely candidate for a rest in this one, and one of the fullbacks is probably due: Tsimikas could easily step in for an on-fire Andy Robertson, but Trent Alexander-Arnold might see himself rested given Tsimikas’ recent injury and the fact that Joe Gomez got a few minutes on Wednesday.
While the front three have generally been Mohamed Salah+two other “first choice” fellas, there is certainly space in our run-in for a final Divock Origi start — you wouldn’t be absolutely floored if that came against Newcastle or in the second leg against Villarreal, as Origi, who rarely plays with a full-strength Liverpool XI, has looked quite good of late.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “They are on an incredible run. Eddie has played a massive part. They signed one of our analysts [Mark Leyland] which for sure is a big part...[years ago the] whole stadium was on fire and [we] have to expect that again tomorrow. Have to make sure we’re ready for that.”
Eddie Howe: “I think we can attack the game with no fear, play our game and try and impose that onto Liverpool. That’s what we will try to do to the best of our ability. We’re in a good frame of mind.”
Referee: Andre Marriner Assistants: Simon Long, Scott Ledger Fourth Official: Andy Madley VAR: Mike Dean Assistant VAR: Darren Cann
Kickoff is set for 12:30PM GMT/7:30AM EST tomorrow. In the meantime, The Liverpool Offside team will keep you updated with all of the team news and match buildup as it becomes available, along with providing a matchday liveblog and post-match recaps and reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.