This Saturday evening we head to Rafa’s old stomping ground, Anfield – the home of Liverpool FC. This is a place where our wonderful Spanish manager is held in the highest esteem. Not only for the mid noughties trophy haul, but also the impeccable work he’s done alongside the JFT96 campaign.
A quick look at the form table will immediately tell you all you need to know about the difficulty of this fixture. If the Premiership had begun ten games ago, Juergen Klopp’s team would be sitting pretty at the top. The defensive issues which have dogged their progress seem to be at least temporarily allayed following the eye watering amount spent on their feeder club, Southampton’s centre back, Virgil Van Dijk. Also, their front three of Mane, Salah & Firmino are giving everyone Man City style problems.
Their forward line really are a joy to watch. When they are on form there’s not really any stopping them. Salah looks to me like a Messi mark II in the making. They bring pace, power and precision to the table and it’s going to be a big ask to keep them out.
So can we? After 79 minutes at Dean Court, having also just watched us keep Manchester United out, my bravado levels were telling me “we’ve got a chance!” Ten minutes later, I was hiding behind the sofa watching my hooky stream through laced fingers and feeling like I was going to honk up. Quintessential Newcastle United.
To be perfectly honest, I think Liverpool will have too much for us. We will line up in strict banks of four and attempt to nick something from a set piece or break. However, this is very hard to keep up for 90 odd minutes. Rafa’s mantra of staying in the game will be in evidence & a quick look at our recent form gives some room for optimism. Two defeats in the last ten is not a bad return at the business end of the season. However, they were both against Man City & Liverpool’s forward play is usually of a similar ilk.
I’m taking my eldest, Jamie for only his second ever away. His first was that wonderful night at Fulham, our inaugural outing in the Championship last season. I’ve rechristened him ‘Jonah’ a few times since. So no help there I’m afraid!
A battling performance will not be enough. I’m going 3-1 to the reds. If I’m correct, let’s hope a few behind us stumble too. Liverpool occasionally turn in the odd appalling showing (think West Brom in the Cup) and we could do with another one now. Their most recent form suggests not, though. Our biggest match of the season is just around the corner when the Saints come marching in to Gallowgate. It would be nice still to be 15th. HTL.
PS I do hope our wonderful away support do not sully our reputation singing about ‘signing on’ & even worse ‘feed the scousers’. Both Merseyside Club’s fans brought significant food donations to our own Newcastle West End Food Bank outside St James this season & ours is a region also well accustomed to employment struggles. I know it’s a minority, but these chants demean us, in my opinion. Those in glass houses….
NICK CLARK – Follow Nick on
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