Anfield sets the stage for the New Year’s Day Premier League spectacle as Liverpool and Newcastle United trade tackles at the start of the second half of the season.
Liverpool closed out 2023 on a winning note, beating promoted Burnley 2-0 courtesy of goals from Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota on either side of half-time, ascending to the top of the pile.
However, there’s no room for complacency after Aston Villa’s hard-earned 3-2 home win against the Clarets on Saturday drew them level on points with the title-aspiring Reds.
Although Jurgen Klopp’s side won their last league outing their form towards the end of 2023 has been anything but consistent, with their last five competitive matches fluctuating between different results.
A mixed bag of performances across their last five games (W2, D2, L1) should help Liverpool keep their feet firmly on the ground, even though they come into this clash as odds-on favourites.
Visiting Newcastle will be out to avenge a gut-wrenching 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture.
While it’s been four months since ten-man Liverpool pulled off a sensational late comeback to win at St James’ Park, Eddie Howe’s side will not have forgotten August 27.
But they have more pressing matters to attend to now.
Plagued by injuries and suspensions, the Magpies suffered only their second home league loss of 2023/24 last time out as Nottingham Forest picked them apart 3-1 on Boxing Day.
It was Newcastle’s sixth defeat in seven matches (W1), with pressure starting to mount on Howe.
Anfield has lived up to its tag as an awe-inspiring fortress this season, as Liverpool dropped points only twice in nine home league outings in the first half of 2023/24 (W7, D2).
The Reds have only lost once in their last 51 Premier League fixtures on home turf (W38, D12), highlighting the potential for extending their formidable run of 27 unbeaten home league H2Hs (W22, D5).
Playing on New Year’s Day brings back fond memories, with the Merseyside heavyweights claiming four wins in their last five matches on January 1.
Against this backdrop, Klopp’s men have failed to win their opening top-flight game in the last three calendar years (D1, L2), casting doubt on their bid to complete their third consecutive league double against Newcastle.
A sense of desperation flows around the travelling camp ahead of a traditionally unpleasant trip to Anfield, where they last won a Premier League encounter in 1994.
Ending that dreadful streak on Monday looks far-fetched for multiple reasons.
For starters, only dead-last Sheffield United (two) have accumulated fewer points on hostile turf than the Mapgies (five) this season, with Howe’s side only winning once on nine league travels (D2, L6).
There’s also Newcastle’s propensity for getting a new calendar year off to a disturbing start, as evidenced by an embarrassing run of one victory in their last 11 curtain-raising fixtures (D3, L7).
Long-term absentees Thiago Alcantara, Andy Robertson, Stefan Bajcetic and Joel Matip are still on the sidelines, while Kostas Tsimikas won’t make the squad due to a collarbone injury.
But there’s hope that Liverpool could welcome Alexis Mac Allister back from a knee problem for this showdown.
Nick Pope, Jacob Murphy, Harvey Barnes, Jamaal Lascelles, Elliot Anderson, Javi Manquillo, Joe Willock, Sandro Tonali and Matt Targett won’t travel with the rest of the Newcastle squad.
On a more promising note, Joelinton has received the green light from the medical staff after picking up a hamstring injury on Boxing Day.
Liverpool potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez; Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo, Ryan Gravenberch; Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez.
Newcaslte United potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Martin Dubravka; Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Sven Botman, Dan Burn; Joelinton, Bruno Guimaraes, Lewis Miley; Miguel Almiron, Alexander Isak, Anthony Gordon.
We Say: Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle United
Newcastle’s attack can score against almost every team in the Premier League, even the division’s best defence, which has only conceded 16 goals this term.
However, that probably won’t help them avoid the inevitable. Liverpool’s free-flowing attack should have a field day against the Magpies’ depleted line-up.
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