Thursday, April 25, 2024

Prediction: Newcastle vs Liverpool

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 7/16

Bookmaker: BetUS

Arguably the biggest game of the third round of the 2023/24 Premier League roller coaster is being played on Sunday at St. James’ Park, where Newcastle welcome Liverpool. It’s a proper heavyweight clash between two teams that battled it out for the final place in the top four last season, which left scores to settle on both sides, and their encounters are usually very exciting.

Newcastle United

It was Newcastle who won that race, finishing behind Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United. There’s no doubt that Newcastle have made impressive progress in a very short time, coming from fighting against relegation to qualifying for the Champions League. And while many are quick to put it all down to the hard work and indisputable managerial quality of Eddie Howe, the fact that the club now has among the richest owners in the world in the Saudi Public Investment Fund has certainly played its part.

Be that as it may, Howe has been shaping his squad gradually, but since the takeover took place in 2021, significant amounts were spent on the likes of striker Alexander Isak, wingers Anthony Gordon and Harvey Barnes, midfielders Bruno Guimaraes and Sandro Tonali, defenders Sven Botman and Kieran Trippier, as well as goalkeeper Nick Pope. Former regular starters, such as Martin Dubravka, Matt Target, Matt Ritchie, Sean Longstaff and Callum Wilson, have all fallen down the pecking order.

Newcastle started the season in a very good way, by beating a very good Aston Villa side by 5-1 at home. Then came arguably the hardest game of the campaign, a trip to defending champions Manchester City, and their 1-0 defeat, courtesy of a fine goal by Julian Alvarez, is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but they’ll be hoping to do better at home against Liverpool.

Team News

Javier Manquillo, who spent the 2014/15 season on loan at Liverpool, is out for this game due to a groin injury, as is fellow defender Emil Krafth (knee) and midfielder Joe Willock (hamstring). Lewis Hall, who just joined the club from Chelsea and is fit and in contention, will probably be left out while he adapts to the new surroundings and tactical demands.

Midfielder Joelinton is a minor doubt, but Howe says he hopes to have the Brazilian at his disposal on Sunday.

With Pope in goal, the established partnership of Fabian Schar and Botman should be in the heart of defence, with Trippier on the right and Dan Burn on the left. Tonali will be at the base of midfield, with Guimaraes pulling the strings as the playmaker-in-chief, and either Joelinton or Longstaff in there as well. Isak will lead the line with Miguel Almiron and Anthony Gordon in support. As a former Evertonian, Gordon should be very motivated against Liverpool.

Liverpool

A late string of good results was obviously insufficient to rectify the problems that plagued Liverpool through the majority of last season, and they ended up missing out on the top four for the first time in a full season under Jurgen Klopp.

The summer has certainly been eventful for the Reds when it comes to transfers. Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all left as free agents, with Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister arriving to supplement the troubled midfield ranks. Unexpected departures of captain Jordan Henderson and Fabinho followed, resulting in failed attempts to sign Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia – Liverpool were beaten by Chelsea in both races. In what seemed like a panic buy mere days later, Liverpool signed midfielder Wataru Endo from Stuttgart, and the Japan captain has already made his debut last week.

Still, the Merseysiders also started well, drawing 1-1 away to Chelsea in the opening round and beating Bournemouth at home by 3-1, despite playing the last 30 minutes or so with 10 men after Mac Allister got sent off by a highly questionable refereeing decision, which has since been overturned by the FA.

Klopp’s team went down to the Cherries after a mistake by Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold allowed Antoine Semenyo to break the deadlock within three minutes, but a marvelous finish by Luis Diaz set the score back level in the 28th. Szoboszlai won a penalty for his team which Mohamed Salah turned into a second goal in the 36th minute, pouncing on the rebound as Neto initially saved his shot from the spot. The final score was set by Diogo Jota, also taking advantage of a rebound after Neto stopped an awkward shot by Szoboszlai.

Team News

Klopp won’t be able to call upon midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Curtis Jones, who are set to return to training a day after this game. The German tactician also revealed that defender Ibrahima Konate is a doubt, but though there have been concerns about the situation of Trent Alexander-Arnold, the England international is ready to play.

Alisson Becker will be in goal, but it remains to be seen if Konate plays alongside Van Dijk at the back. If not, it’ll probably be Joel Matip, though Joe Gomez in an option too. Having been cleared of the red card, Mac Allister is expected to start again as the midfield anchor, with Cody Gakpo and Szoboszlai in more advanced roles. Salah will be on the right, Diaz on the left, and probably Jota through the middle. That would, of course, mean Darwin Nunez starting on the bench.

Conclusion

This match is very hard to call in advance. Newcastle appear to be in a better place at the moment, but that was also the case ahead of both matches last season, and yet, both times, Liverpool emerged victorious.

Both teams have excellent attackers and plenty of creativity throughout, and it’s hard to imagine either goalkeeper keeping a clean sheet.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 7/16

Bookmaker: BetUS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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