Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp may not be fully aware of Newcastle United’s current shortcomings but has warned his side not to take their task lightly at St James’ Park lightly this weekend.
Klopp’s men make the trip to the north east off the back of a convincing 6-1 rout of Southampton in the League Cup – Daniel Sturridge scoring twice as Liverpool made it four straight wins in all competitions.
With confidence high on Merseyside amid steady progression in Klopp’s short time at the club, they will be heavily fancied to win comfortably against a Newcastle side struggling in 19th.
Liverpool have scored 86 goals against Newcastle in the Premier League, more than any other team, and, even with the likely absence of Philippe Coutinho (hamstring), should have more than enough to ask questions of a fragile Newcastle side.
Klopp – who has come out on top against McClaren twice in the dugout when the pair coached Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg respectively – maintains Liverpool cannot take anything for granted.
“I had seven years at Dortmund, seven years at Mainz. So in my opinion [stability is] very important,” said the German, who has Emre Can suspended this weekend.
“But it can work in different ways. I don’t know about the history of Newcastle but I know Steve McClaren and his quality and his experience. We have to be aware.
“I’m still a new manager here. I can’t tell you something about Newcastle. I know a bit of their problems in the last year. They thought they needed to buy players and so on, Newcastle haven’t played in Europe for a while, so information in Germany was not easy to get.
“If I need to know more of Newcastle, I would take information. We have to play football against them.”
Former England manager McClaren has been given a rude awakening to life at St James’ Park, acknowledging confidence was low in the dressing room following last weekend’s 5-1 hammering at Crystal Palace.
As Newcastle return to St James’ Park – where they have won just once in their last seven league games – defender Mike Williamson will be absent after tweaking a hamstring in training shortly after being recalled from a loan at Wolves.
“[Klopp] is a quality coach, I know him well from Dortmund in Germany,” McClaren explained this week.
“I have played against [Dortmund] a couple of times. I can see Dortmund in his Liverpool team. But we have to claw our way back and come through it.
“We have to see some light and then keep going. We have good players and they need to come through this.
“The way they are playing there is effort there, it is just a lack of confidence.”
Key Opta stats:
– There have been a total of seven red cards shown in the last seven top-flight meetings between these two sides (the last six all for the Magpies with the one before that for the Reds).
– Daniel Sturridge has bagged six goals against Newcastle in the Premier League – more than against any other side.
– Liverpool have averaged 6.9km more and 84 sprints more per game under Jurgen Klopp than Brendan Rodgers in the top-flight this season
– Newcastle are one of three sides yet to benefit from a goal scored by an English player this season. Southampton and Stoke City are the others
– Steve McClaren met Jurgen Klopp twice in the 2010-11 Bundesliga season, with Klopp’s Dortmund winning both games against Wolfsburg, 2-0 at home and 3-0 away.