18th October 2013
Premier League football returns from a two week break with a derby clash at St James’ Park, where improving Newcastle are determined to make amends for the embarrassing 6-0 defeat in the same fixture last season. On the other hand, Liverpool are hoping another victory at the Tyne would help them dislodge Arsenal from the top of the standings, if only for a couple hours.
Newcastle started falling to pieces shortly after manager Alan Pardew was rewarded with an eight-year contract, but at least they somehow managed to avoid the drop last season. The Magpies didn’t really need to make too many signings this summer, but even though Loic Remy quickly proved to be an excellent arrival, the uncertainty surrounding key men Coloccini and Cabaye seriously disrupted the harmony at St James’ Park. With both players linked with summer exits and not exactly in a position to fully focus on task at hand, Newcastle had a pretty poor start to the season, although rare away wins over Aston Villa and Cardiff helped them return to the right track. Even so, with key players Yohan Cabaye, Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa still struggling for form, the hosts don’t really have much to hope for ahead of the clash with in-form Liverpool, even if they should not be lacking in motivation after the aforementioned 6-0 setback last season. The absence of Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor is not going to help the team patch up the leaky defence, whereas Loic Remy can only do so much on his own, unless some of the other attackers finally steps up the plate.
Following yet another under-par season, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was under pressure to get it right with summer signings after none of the players who had been purchased in the summer of 2012 managed to make the expected impact at Anfield. And while Simon Mignolet was always going to be a worthy replacement for Pepe Reina, the likes of Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto were not exactly the players Liverpool fans expected to see. Nevertheless, the Ivorian defender quickly proved he still has several good years ahead of him, while late arrivals Sakho and Moses further improved competition for places. As a result, the Reds have looked quite convincing most of the time, with home setback against Southampton their only setback up to date. The return of Luis Suarez from a ten-match suspension came at a perfect time as Liverpool recorded back to back wins over Sunderland and Crystal Palace with the Uruguayan in the side. Seeing as how that Glen Johnson, Lucas, Aly Cissokho and Joe Allen have all returned during the international break, the Reds look a good bet to extend their winning run to three Premier League matches.
Newcastle have been far from impressive at their St James’ Park this term and with the team still finding their form, I seriously doubt they can produce the quality performance that is needed to stop Liverpool in their tracks. Meanwhile, the Reds continue to improve and they look set to make it three wins in four away games this season.
Verdict: Away win Liverpool (2)
Best Odds: 5/6
Bookmaker: William Hill