It is a quick turnaround for Liverpool after their 2-0 Champions League semi final first leg win over Villarreal. They travel to St. James Park tomorrow for a 12:30pm BST (11:30am GMT) kickoff against a rejuvenated Newcastle side. Here’s a preview of the game.

It was a grim start to the season for Newcastle as the final days of Mike Ashley’s reign meandered on with Steve Bruce unable to get much of a tune out of the squad. The new Saudi owners took over in October and renewed hope in the fanbase.

Steve Bruce was let go, with the threat of relegation hanging over the Magpies. Eddie Howe was handed the reins in November with the club rock bottom of the Premier League and five points adrift of safety. It looked for all intents and purposes like Newcastle were on their way down.

What has followed is an unbelievable turnaround which has been spearheaded by Eddie Howe and no doubt fuelled by a strong January transfer window. Before the window opened, Howe led Newcastle to one win and three draws in eight Premier League matches.

That saw them earn just three points more than Steve Bruce managed in his eight league matches in charge this season. The turnaround started in earnest when the winter transfer window opened. Newcastle spent close to a £100m as their new owners flexed their financial muscle.

Reinforcements in the form of Trippier, Wood, Guimaraes, Targett and Burn all arrived. Since then, Newcastle have won ten and drawn two of 15 league matches. In fact only Liverpool have earned more points (38) this calendar year than the Magpies (32).

They are a completely different proposition to the side that was beaten 3-1 at Anfield back in December. They took a shock lead in that game through Jonjo Shelvey, before goals from Jota, Salah and a Trent piledriver completed the comeback.

Newcastle have won each of their last six home league games, conceding only three goals and keeping four clean sheets. They’ve managed to turn St. James into a bit of a fortress. They would have had a week to prepare for this game and will pose a serious threat to Liverpool’s title hopes.

This Liverpool side is machine like in its ability to overcome challenges though. Despite seeing a request for the game to be postponed by a few hours turned down, the Reds will still turn up and expect to win.

Jürgen Klopp’s men come into the clash with 12 wins from their last 14 league games. The only aberrations in that run being the two 2-2 draws at Stamford Bridge and the Etihad. They’ve kept 10 clean sheets in that period and have only let in 6 goals.

Victory will see the Reds go 2 clear of Man City at the top of the table, if only for a few hours. The Citizens will be a Elland Road to take on Leeds United later tomorrow. This game is perhaps the trickiest one Liverpool have left in their run in (some would say Spurs).

If the Reds want to win the title, they must go to the ground of the second best team in the country (this calendar year) and win. Nobody said it will be easy. This game could have similarities to the corresponding fixture in 2018/19.

Back then, the Reds had just lost 3-0 at the Camp Nou in the first leg of the Champions League semi final, and lying just a point behind City. Newcastle, then led by Rafa Benitez, gave as good as they got in a ding dong battle that was settled by a late Origi header to make it 3-2.

It is likely to be a similar battle to the death tomorrow. Jürgen Klopp has won just two of his 5 trips to St. James (2 wins, 2 draws, 1 defeat). With Howe’s expansive style of play, we should see a good game of attacking football between the two in form teams in the league.

Team News

For the Reds, Roberto Firmino once again misses out with the foot injury he sustained at Wembley. Curtis Jones is also unavailable due to illness, whilst Kostas Tsimikas returned to training today after his own bout with the runs. He should be available.

For Newcastle, Callum Wilson (calf) and Kieran Trippier (foot) are making good progress but won’t be available tomorrow. Ryan Fraser meanwhile is out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. There aren’t any new fitness concerns for Eddie Howe’s side.

Key Players

Luis Diaz

Liverpool’s winter signing has been a terrific addition. He was at it again on Wednesday night causing Juan Foyth all sorts of problems. He was unlucky not to find the back of the net. If he starts tomorrow, expect him to give Emil Krafth a thorough examination.

Bruno Guimaraes

The 24 year old has quickly become a fan favourite amongst the Geordies. He was something of a coup for the Magpies as he was coveted by a host of top European clubs before the £35m capture. He is a technically gifted footballer who has improved Newcastle’s midfield significantly.

The Brazilian has been in good goalscoring form recently as well, netting three times and laying of an assist in his last three games. He will look to set the pacy Saint-Maximin away the least chance he gets.

Jordan Henderson

The skipper played his part on Wednesday night, forcing the own goal that broke the deadlock. He was taken off early with an eye on tomorrow. The energy he brings to the side, and the intensity levels he sets, will be crucial as the Reds look to overcome any sense of fatigue. He will have to win his battle with Joelinton.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s