Sunday’s mouth-watering encounter between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James’ Park could have a massive impact on the Premier League top-four race further down the line.
Although our 2023/24 Newcastle preview is sceptical about their chances of replicating last season’s success and securing a second consecutive top-four finish, they deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Eddie Howe’s side put Aston Villa to the sword on the opening weekend, cruising to an emphatic 5-1 home triumph to cast doubt on our prediction before being given an awakening by Manchester City last time out.
Without Kevin De Bruyne, the perennial Premier League champions squeezed past Newcastle 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium, leaving a bitter taste in Howe’s mouth.
The former Bournemouth manager has amassed powerful enemies during his impressive tenure in Tyne and Wear, including Liverpool – a side he pipped to a coveted fourth-place finish last term.
Vengeance will be at the forefront of Jurgen Klopp’s mind after missing out on Champions League qualification for the first time since his maiden campaign at Anfield in 2015/16.
Finishing one better than last season is the bare minimum the German tactician expects from his squad following the additions of Wataru Endo, Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister.
Like Klopp, we trust the Reds to recover from a mediocre 2022/23 campaign, as you can read in our Liverpool season preview, with a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Bournemouth this past weekend boding well.
Barely 24 hours since touching down in England, Endu made his Premier League debut last week, coming on in the second half to fill the void left by Mac Allister’s expulsion.
Although Newcastle have only suffered back-to-back league defeats twice in the past 16 months, Man City and Liverpool got the better of Howe’s side in both instances.
It’s not the only ominous sign for the Magpies. They’ve lost their last four league meetings with the Reds, going down 2-0 in this corresponding fixture in February.
That result was one of Newcastle’s mere two Premier League home losses in 2022/23 (W11, D6), while it’s also one of their three scoring blanks in 11 league outings at St James’ Park in 2023.
However, a short trip down the memory line brings trouble for the hosts as they’ve failed to get on the scoresheet in their last three top-flight matches against Liverpool on home turf.
Luckily for Newcastle, Liverpool are no longer the impenetrable defensive force they used to be during Virgil van Dijk’s early days at Anfield, as evidenced by the visitors’ four-game league run without a shut-out.
Before giving away a cheap early goal against Bournemouth, the Reds were lucky to get away with a 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in their first league trip of 2023/24.
However, Klopp should be confident about upsetting St James’ Park, knowing he has emerged victorious in 12 of his 14 previous managerial duels against Howe (D1, L1).
Klopp’s formidable record against his Newcastle counterpart is not the only reason for optimism in the Liverpool dugout, considering they also boast the longest ongoing unbeaten run in the Premier League (W8, D5).
Emil Krafth, Javier Manquillo and Joe Willock are still on the sidelines, as they were in the opening two rounds, but Howe has a much bigger concern on his plate.
Joelinton picked up a knock against Man City last weekend and may need to sit this one out.
As for Liverpool, Curtis Jones and Thiago Alcantara will not join the rest of the squad for this trip due to injuries.
Mac Allister is available for selection despite receiving a straight red for a reckless challenge against Bournemouth after the Premier League overturned his suspension.
Newcastle United potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Nick Pope; Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Sven Botman, Dan Burn; Sandro Tonali, Bruno Guimaraes, Sean Longstaff; Miguel Almiron, Alexander Isak, Harvey Barnes.
Liverpool potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; Alexis Mac Allister, Wataru Endo, Dominik Szoboszlai; Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz.
We Say: Newcastle United 1-1 Liverpool
Newcastle’s stellar home form under Howe cannot be overlooked despite their perennial struggle against Liverpool.
In other circumstances, we would’ve backed the Reds for a win, but it may still take some time for Klopp’s new-look midfield to gel.
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