Newcastle United V Liverpool
St James’ Park
Saturday 1st November 12.45 PM
No matter how many years pass, whenever these two sides crop up against each other minds are inevitably drawn back to those high scoring classics of the mid 1990s, when both teams were challenging for league honours and were considered the maverick entertainers of the division.
This season, entertainment has been less of a concern as both teams have too often stumbled through games with no real conviction, fortunate to come away with the spoils. On paper however, both do appear to be on the up; with two victories on the bounce Newcastle are fast emerging from a long term slump and will now be brimming with confidence after a dominant midweek cup triumph over Manchester City.
Liverpool have had a similar run of form to Newcastle lately and will hoping to get back to the trajectory of last season- when they played with a defined and thrilling style, clocking up the points to match.
This Time Last Season:
Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool
Coutinho (£10.5m GW9 345pts) v Sissoko (£7.9m GW9 450pts)
Philippe Coutinho has been an occasional bright spark in an otherwise drab campaign for Liverpool. A ball of energy with a keen eye for a pass, on his day the Brazilian can be an absolute menace to defenders. On visible evidence his shooting has markedly improved this year, despite yielding one goal so far. However, it’s the link play and cohesion with Balotelli, provided they can gel, that will prove imperative to Liverpool’s prospects, not only here, but going forward into the season.
Moussa Sissoko is such an adaptable and diligent player it’s reasonable to say that he has almost suffered from his versatility. Now slotting in behind the striker he is free to play his dynamic best: running at players with pace and strength and generally causing havoc in the process. An impressive couple of games for the Frenchman, goals from midfield have been badly needed for The Toon since Yohan Cabaye’s departure; Sissoko could be the man to provide.
Coloccini (£6.1m, GW9 200pts) v Lovren (£7.4m, GW9 1150pts)
With two clean sheets in the past three games across all competitions, it looks as if Newcastle’s defensive frailties are going some way toward being rectified. Fabrizio Coloccini has struggled to replicate the form that made him such an imposing and commanding centre-half two seasons ago, but the stalwart has been solid thus far, keeping his head when others have gone missing. Still a quality operator, Liverpool will need to get past him to get anything from this game.
Dejan Lovren arrived off the back of brilliant season with a heavy price tag around his neck. Has he lived up to expectations? Not entirely, but he is showing a steady improvement and has the third most clearances in the Premier League through nine weeks. His goal midweek will also provide a much needed boost. Whether he nabs another or concedes at the other end, expect him to be a gamechanger on Saturday.
In the past six clashes between sides Liverpool hold the advantage, coming out the victors in at least half of those games while Newcastle have registered victory just once in the past three seasons. Are those figures set to change?