Despite the news from the premier league that the all-London fixture of Spurs vs Fulham was postponed, the game on Tyneside is still anticipated to be played tonight.
Kick-off: 8PM, Wednesday 30th December 2020
Venue: St. James’ Park
- Jamaal Lascelles (Illness, expected back 12th Jan for game at Brammall Lane vs SHU)
- ASM (Illness, expected back 12th Jan for game at Brammall Lane vs SHU)
- Dubravka (Heel, expected back 3rd Jan for fixture vs Leicester at Home)
- Wilson (Ankle, still expected to play)
- Hendrick – Illness
- Dummett – Illness
- Fraser – Groin (expected to miss the fixture)
- Shelvey – Groin
- Keita (Muscle ‘unspecified’)
- Matip (Muscle)
- Jota (Knee, expected back 3rd Feb for fixture vs Brighton at Anfield)
- Tsimikas (Knee, expected back 3rd Feb for fixture vs Brighton at Anfield)
- Gomez (Knee, unknown return date)
- Van Dijk (Knee, unknown return date)
- Thiago (Knee, unknown return date)
How to watch: televised on Amazon prime video
Match officials: Paul Tierney (Match referee), Harry Lennard + Adrian Holmes (Ass. Referees), Lee Mason (Fourth official), Stuart Atwell (VAR), Stephen Child (Ass. VAR)
History of the fixture:
This fixture was first played over 100 years ago, on the 4th Nov 1893, the result was a 5-1 thrashing by Liverpool in the second division. Since then, Liverpool have won 87 matches compared to Newcastle’s 50, with 42 draws.
In the 28 year history of the premier league, Newcastle have played Liverpool 50 times, winning only 11 matches, with 10 coming at home at St. James’ park. It is fair to say that the reds have dominated the magpies in this fixture, winning 29 out of the possible 50, with an impressive 9 wins away from home on toon side. Liverpool have gone unbeaten against Newcastle in their last 7 meetings, winning their last 5 fixtures against the white and blacks. It has been 5 years since Newcastle beat Liverpool which ended 2-0, goals coming from former reds CB Martin Skrtel and current midfield maestro for Liverpool Gini Wijnaldum.
Only four members of the current Liverpool squad were in that matchday squad, current club captain Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino, the ever-present James Milner and Champions league hero Divock Origi. Newcastle played with current CB Paul Dummett and GK Karl Darlow who has shown his worth for the magpies this season, making an impressive 59 saves in the current campaign, including 11 against Spurs (third-most saves in the premier league this season).
Liverpool are currently sitting top of the table, sitting 14 points ahead of 15th placed Newcastle who have a game in-hand over the Klopp’s reds.
Newcastle still come into this game with confidence, being unbeaten (Won 2, drawn 2) against reigning champions in their last 4 games at Home. They have lost their last 5 against Liverpool and have never lost 6 top-flight matches against them, they are keen to break this losing run and maintain their unbeaten spell against champions (Liverpool of course winning the 19/20 season by an impressive 18 points, ending on 99 points).
Liverpool will be ardent to forget their disappointing 1-1 draw at home to the baggies who are currently sitting in 19th place. They will be confident, however, as their record shows that they like scoring plenty of goals against Newcastle, netting 15 goals in their last 5 meetings. The Egyptian Mohammed Salah will be keen to resume his scoring season, failing to net against West Bromwich. He is currently leading the golden boot race with 13 goals, 2 goals ahead of his Merseyside rival Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Salah has an impressive record in away matches this season, netting seven times and recording 2 assists in his last 6 games.
Without impressive play-maker Allan Saint-Maximin, Newcastle lack their usual pace and skill to get behind the fragile Liverpool central defence. They will rely on Callum Wilson, who has 8 PL goals to his name this season, to provide that pace in behind the defence. Without Van Dijk and Gomez (Matip doubtful to play), Liverpool have relied on Fabinho to fill-in that position. They certainly make up for their lack of quality CBs with two of the best full-backs in the league and the world, Trent-Alexander Arnold and Andrew Robertson who have not carried as much of an attacking threat this season, partly because of their defensive fragility, thus annulling their runs alongside Salah and Mane providing precise crosses into the opposition box.
Newcastle are expected to line-up with 5 defenders, hoping to provide a solid base for the 4 in midfield and 1 in attack to build off. Liverpool are expected to play in a 433 formation with that star-studded frontline of Mane, Firmino and Salah. The reds maintained 78% possession in their draw against West Bromwich so the Newcastle midfield and defence will sit-deep and try and utilise set-pieces and the occasional counterattack to find some joy in this game.
My Prediction: Newcastle 1 - 3 Liverpool.