Opposition: Liverpool FC

Venue: Anfield

Date / Time: Thursday 16th December at 8pm on BT Sport

Facts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liverpool_F.C

Fun Fact: Anfield hasn’t always been Liverpool FC’s home – City rivals Everton FC were based at the ground before a rent dispute! This also happened to spark the founding of LFC…

I sit here at my desk, pondering what I witnessed yesterday. We went into that Leicester game with hopes of picking something up against a team that was ravaged with Covid and had been on a poor run of form. They’d had an energy sapping trip to Naples last Thursday and had been knocked into the bottom tier of Euro tat football.

The Foxes had conceded a league “worst” of 10 goals from set pieces. You’d have thought that we’d have at least made some attempt to attack their Achilles heel, particularly when Jonny Evans hobbled off on 4 minutes, but instead, we surrendered woefully; initially robbed by VAR and a James Maddison dive that Tom Daly would have been proud of, but then meekly to a Youri Tielmans masterclass.

We were never at the races and if Jamal Lascelles never dons the shirt of Newcastle United again, it’ll be too soon! And who’s bright idea was it to put Jonjo Shelvey on all set-pieces? Sunday was a bloody embarrassment for all concerned with NUFC.

When the fixture list was first released back in the warmer temperatures and lighter days of July, December looked, on paper, like an absolute nightmare. Well folks, it’s turning out to be worse than that! Liverpool to come, followed by a double Manc header at St James’ before the trip to Goodison on the 30th. Our only saving grace is that our relegation rivals are also failing miserably at picking up points.

I’ve been maintaining a viewpoint that if we are still in touch with the pack come January 1st, then we should be ok. We have the wedge to get us out of the mire, but who’s desperate to land at NE1 and straight into a relegation dogfight? Jesse Lingard has been heavily linked again, as have Conor Coady and James Tarkowski. I’d snap your hands off for such signings, and whilst money talks, do they really want to come here? Only time will tell guys and galls.

So, with our tail well and truly between our legs, we’re on the road again this Thursday, with a daunting trip to the Galacticos of Anfield. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s stomach is filled with dread at the thought of our woeful backline and midfield coming up against one of the best teams in Europe.

I could list the plethora of talent in the Liverpool squad, but there aren’t enough words to fit them all in. I’ll leave you with the no-brainer that Mo Salah will once again be wearing my FPL captain’s armband!

What on earth can Wor Gaffer do to stem the tide on Thursday? For starters, he needs to bring back Fede Fernandez, undoubtably our most reliable centre half. It comes to something when you’re desperate to get the likes of 7/10 Paul Dummett back into solidify our leaky defence.

I have a feeling he might revert to 3 CB on Thursday. Equally as puzzling is what Eddie can do in Midfield. The defence looks so isolated with Shelvey and Willock as our 2 in the middle, so perhaps Isaac Hayden might get a rare run out to try and solidify the central areas. Joe Willock has looked a shadow of the player we were desperate to “break the bank” for in the summer. What’s he offering us in midfield? He needs to play in a central 3, which might mean the hook for both St Max and Miggy, both of whom are badly off the boil at the minute. Whilst ASM is clearly our talisman, he hasn’t put in a decent shift in the last month, and there’s an argument to be had that he doesn’t have the stomach, or attitude to graft his nuts off. We need fighters in that side, and I’m not convinced ASM is needed for the rest of the calendar year.

My good pal Gids has maintained that Miggy is shit. Whilst I’ve always defended him, I just can’t see what he’s bringing to the table, and I’d sit him back on the bench in place of Jacob Murphy.

Whichever way Eddie decides to go on Thursday, one thing’s for sure; The Toon Army will once more ascend on Anfield in our masses. We don’t deserve the shower of shit that NUFC is currently turning out. Better times are certainly around the corner, but that hairpin is looking longer and longer!!

It should be noted that we haven’t won at Anfield since the Steve Watson super-strike in the league cup in 1995, and our last league win was 5 years to the day of the Hillsborough disaster. A generation ago and an indicator that we don’t bother turning up to give them a game. Take a look at happier times here…

So, onto the dreaded prediction. It would take a brave soul to predict anything other than a comfortable home victory on Thursday, and I cannot see anything other than a 4-0 scoreline in favour of the scousers.

@peekeekay – Paul Karter