NEWCASTLE VS LIVERPOOL
| Saturday, May 4th |
Premier League | ST. James’ Park
6:45 PM GMT /2:45 PM EST
Another match that must be won looms for Liverpool. There are points to be had from Newcastle on Saturday and then Wolverhampton next weekend and then the final bell rings on the 2018/19 season. Manchester City will have to register at least a draw in one of their two remaining fixtures for Liverpool to win out. But first Jürgen Klopp will have to face up to a very determined Rafa Benitez who won’t be waiting to just hand the game to his beloved Reds.
Liverpool walked away 4-0 winners after the return fixture at Anfield in December thanks to a smorgasbord of goal scorers that included Dejan Lovren and his friend Mohamed Salah, along with Xherdan Shaqiri, and Fabinho. But Newcastle perform decently on their home turf and will take to the pitch with some confidence in front of their home support.
Rafa will have almost a full compliment of players to choose from for his starting XI. DeAndre Yedlin is out with a groin problem but otherwise Newcastle have no fresh injury concerns.
They do, however, have a danger man in great form. Ayoze Pérez has scored in each of Newcastle’s last three fixtures. He scored the only goal in a 1-0 win at Leicester City, then a home field hat-trick against Southampton, followed by another goal in last weekend’s match at Brighton & Hove Albion that ended in a draw. Looking ahead to the Liverpool match Benitez was buoyed by his striker’s recent performances: “Ayoze is on fire so that is very good news for us.”
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Henderson; Shaqiri, Salah, Mané
Coming into a match on the back of a 3-0 defeat can be a real test of a team’s mettle. Jürgen Klopp’s team will have to collectively shake off this week’s loss to Lionel Messi, featuring Barcelona, and ensure they walk out of St. James’ Park with three points.
Naby Keita is out for awhile, as we know. Roberto Firmino’s full availability is up in the air. Klopp was unenthusiastically vague about the Brazilian’s inclusion in Saturday’s team during his pre-match presser. So, I’m adding Xherdan Shaqiri into the XI in Firmino’s place. You know, just for fun.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also a wildcard for a starting position but it’s a possibility. Ox could use the minutes and the confidence from being able to influence the game from the first whistle.
Liverpool are obviously big favorites to beat Newcastle but the points from this match are essential and Klopp will not have to remind his players that complacency at any point during the performance is unacceptable. Newcastle will fight hard and Liverpool will have to control the ball and keep the Magpies from counterattacking while creating chances and looking and smelling incredible. No problem.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “I expect a tough game.”
Rafa Benitez: “They are having a great season. You could see against Barcelona that they were in control until Messi decided it had to be different. Everything about Liverpool now is that they are doing great. They are favourites but, if we do everything right, we have a chance.”
Referee: Andre Marriner Assistants: Lee Betts, Simon Long Fourth official: Kevin Friend
Kickoff is set for 6:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM 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.