Liverpool vs Newcastle
| Monday, January 1st |
Premier League | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
Following a string of beneficial results elsewhere, Liverpool have the chance to open up a five-point gap to rivals Arsenal and Manchester City, as they play hosts to a floundering Newcastle side desperately trying to climb back into top four contention.
It’s been a rough third year for Eddie Howe and his blood money legion, as a combination of an increase in match volume, subsequent injuries, and teams adapting to their style of play has seen the Magpies drop from fourth place to ninth, on pace to collect 13 fewer points than they did last season.
In their last seven games in all competitions, the geordies have lost six — including defeats to Nottingham Forest and Luton — and been eliminated from both the Carabao Cup and the Champions League. In other words, Newcastle will be desperate not only to get back to winning ways, but also avenge their loss to ten-man Liverpool back in August.
The aforementioned injuries will ensure, among others, goalkeeper Nick Pope, midfielder Jacob Murphy, Harvey Barnes and Joe Willock, and potentially captain Jamaal Lascelles, while club record signing Sandro Tonali is serving a ten-month suspension for illegal gambling activities.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, van Dijk, Gomez; Endō, Jones, Szoboszlai; Jota, Darwin, Salah
For the Reds, certain position groups are struggling with injuries, as both left-backs Andrew Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas are out with shoulder/clavicle issues, ensuring Joe Gomez starts out wide, likely alongside Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konaté and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
In midfield, Alexis Mac Allister is back in team training and thus contention, although it seems likely Wataru Endō gets his eighth consecutive start as the Argentine is eased back into match fitness. The Japanese international is likely supported by Dominik Szoboszlai and one of Curtis Jones and Ryan Gravenberch. Thiago should return to team training sometime in the next month, while Stefan Bajcetic is still getting up to speed following his injury.
Up top, Jürgen Klopp can have his pick, as Diogo Jota was back with a bang against Burnley, and while Cody Gakpo and Luis Díaz offer different dynamics, starting the dangerous trio of Jota, Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah feels both probable and beneficial.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “The games I saw – and the analysis only starts now really – they had really good spells, they have a really good idea. But at one point Eddie [Howe] had to play too often the same line-up, definitely, that’s clear with all these games.”
Eddie Howe: “For us, we need to be near perfect in this game. This is a really tough game for us. They have been performing very well at home especially, very consistent, really good team, so for us the challenge is that we need to re-find our best form and we need to be mentally very strong.”
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistant referees: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official: Andy Madley
Video Assistant Referees: Stuart Attwell, Mark Scholes
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM 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.