Premier League 2019-20: Points to ponder ahead of the Liverpool vs Newcastle clash
After the end of the international break the battle for the Premier League picks up right where it left off, with league leaders Liverpool welcoming Newcastle United to Anfield on Saturday. With four victories out of four matches, the Reds will look to keep up their perfect record and stay on top of the table, while the Magpies would like to climb further than their current 14th place.
Liverpool have gotten the better of Newcastle in their past few meetings but this Saturday, Steve Bruce’s men will not go down without a fight.
The aftermath of the international break
A number of injuries for the Magpies meant that Steve Bruce didn’t have to worry about too many of his players going on international duty and face the extra travelling, training as well as risk of injury. Among those playing, Fabian Schar scored the equalizer for Switzerland against the Republic of Ireland last week while Miguel Almirón found himself on the score-sheet as he netted his first international goal for Paraguay against Jordan in a friendly.
The Reds, on the other hand, were relieved to see their key players Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah given a break from international duty while the rest enjoyed victorious outings. Georginio Wijnaldum found the net twice for the Netherlands, being a part of both games along with Virgil van Dijk. Jordan Henderson was part of both of England's wins while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Trent Alexander-Arnold also got some minutes.
Joe Gomez was an unused sub for England, as was Divock Origi for Belgium. Firmino featured for both Brazil games while Fabinho got some minutes as well. Dejan Lovren also got a goal under his belt for Croatia. Scotland’s Andy Robertson, on the other hand, had a tough two games with Scotland.
This Saturday might see some tired legs for the Liverpool squad as they travel back after the international break, while Newcastle might be fresher.
Preparing for the Champions League
Champions League football is back this mid-week and defending Champions Liverpool’s first challenge are the Italian giants Napoli. Considering Liverpool knocked Napoli out of the group stage last season, Carlo Ancelotti’s men will be back smelling blood this time.
As the Reds kick off match-day 5, they may opt for squad rotation keeping in mind their Champions League mid-week fixture. Xherdan Shaqiri, who opted out of the Switzerland squad for the Euro qualifiers, might get some minutes, as well as Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Rhian Brewster could find himself on the bench too.
Newcastle would look to take advantage of a distracted Liverpool, who might be preoccupied with the Champions League.
A Sadio-Salah rift?
The topic dominated the headlines last week. Liverpool, who traveled to Turf Moor on match-day 4, walked away with their first clean sheet in a 3-0 win as well as a blow-out between two of its major stars.
The usually calm and smiling Sadio Mané seemed in pure rage in the dugout, having to be calmed down by teammates James Milner, Joe Gomez and Roberto Firmino. Prior to Mane's substitution, there was an incident where Mohamed Salah decided to go for a shot while the Senegalese star was unmarked.
Captain Jordan Henderson was quick to diffuse the situation, saying it was just the two attackers pushing each other while Jurgen Klopp himself added, "Sadio is an emotional guy. It’s good, we are all individuals and we are all like this. Something didn’t go exactly as he wanted obviously, it was not the substitution."
The lack of international action over the break might have afforded the pair a chance to rest up as well as make up.
Newcastle’s big Tottenham win
While Liverpool have gotten off to a perfect start with four wins out of four matches played, Newcastle United have picked up only four points so far. An opening day defeat to Arsenal was followed by a 3-1 away loss to Norwich City.
But the Magpies pulled off an impressive win over Tottenham on match-day 3 before succumbing to Leicester in the Football League Cup. They managed to scrape a draw at home against Watford in their last outing.
Newcastle’s effort against Tottenham was commendable, and if they are able to produce such a performance again, they would be a threat to Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Previous head-to-head record
Liverpool hold the upper hand over Newcastle with 27 wins as compared to Newcastle’s 11.
The last time the two sides met, Liverpool were in a battle with Manchester City for the Premier League title and were in dire need of a victory to keep pace with their title rivals. The game went back and forth with the score line at 2-2 until Divock Origi’s late winner handed them a narrow 3-2 victory.
At that time Rafa Benitez had Newcastle playing a threatening brand of football. This time Steve Bruce, being in charge, would hope that the players bring their A game and give Liverpool a tough fight.