Newcastle take on Liverpool at St James’ Park tomorrow in yet another Sunday kick-off which will be shown live on Sky TV.
It’s a match which needs little build up in truth as we are all aware of the little sub-plots that will be played out during the match, but just in case you’ve been asleep for the last 18 or so months I’ll give you a refresher anyway.
This is the first time that Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique have returned to Tyneside since they both moved to Anfield from the North East last year. There is also the Dalglish factor, with this being the first time our former manager has returned to St James’ Park since overseeing a draw with Charlton Athletic back in 1998. With the Scot credited with ripping apart a side capable of beating anyone and selling players like Les Ferdinand while replacing them with John Barnes and Ian Rush there is sure to be a hostile reception in store.
However this isn’t all about Liverpool, even though a lot of their fans will like to think it is. We have our own agenda in this one and regardless of any sub plots there are three points on offer – three points that would strengthen our stranglehold on 6th place, especially as we are playing the team directly below us. It may also be enough for 5th should we manage to better Chelsea’s result at Aston Villa this afternoon.
Cheik Tiote and Ryan Taylor are back in contention for a start, and with Fabricio Coloccini out injured it could mean that both of them slot straight back into the starting XI, with Taylor starting at left-back and Cheik Tiote in his defensive midfield role at the expense, probably, of Danny Guthrie.
Sammy Ameobi, Steven Taylor, Sylvain Marveaux, Leon Best and Peter Lovenkrands all remain out while Gabriel Obertan is rated as doubtful.
Charlie Adam, Daniel Agger, and Lucas Leiva are unavailable, and there’s further question marks over the fitness of Craig Bellamy, Glen Johnson, and Martin Kelly.
The obvious thing from a Newcastle perspective is to replicate what we did to West Brom in the first half last week. We blew them away in all honesty, and it was the best we’ve played in a long long time for me in terms of skill, attacking threat and controlling a game.
However this is football and sometimes a different approach is needed depending on the opposition. For instance Liverpool will present a threat down the wings, with Stewart Downing and Dirk Kuyt likely to get the nod. Would we be better off trying to plug the gaps on the flanks for example?
The problem with doing that is that we move back to a more conventional 4-4-2 system, which will take away some of the threat our attacking trio of Demba Ba, Papiss Cisee and Hatem Ben Arfa can impose on a Liverpool defence that can be got at, especially if Jamie Carragher plays!
Anyhoo, it’s not up to me and I’m not a football manager, but these are some of the questions that Alan Pardew will have to look at and assess ahead of the match tomorrow.
Stats and facts
It’s been nearly 40 years since we’ve recorded back to back home wins against Liverpool. The last time we managed such a feat was with victories at St James’ Park in the 1971/72 and 1972/73 seasons.
Newcastle go looking for three wins in a row for only the second time this season.
Liverpool have won six of the last seven fixtures between the two sides.
It’s been nine years since Newcastle had a better points haul than we have right now at the this stage of the season.
Kenny Dalglish is unbeaten as a manager against Newcastle. Of the six games the Scot has taken control of teams for, he’s won four and drawn two.
Liverpool have won only two league games in 2012. They’ve lost five of their last six league matches and Kenny Dalglish’s points haul from his last ten games is now less than what Roy Hodgson managed in the ten games before he was sacked.
There shouldn’t be any motivation needed for this match. A win means that 6th place is all but ours and would mean that Liverpool would have to try and claw back an 11 point difference between us and them in the final seven games of the season.
Fortunately we seem to be hitting some kind of form at the right time of the season. We’ve lost one game since the 5-0 defeat at White Hart Lane, with that loss coming courtesy of a 95th minute winner from Arsenal at The Emirates. Keep up that form and Europe could be on the cards, which is some motivation, and if it isn’t we could always pin Jose Enrique’s words from July 2011 on the dressing room wall prior to kick-off.
“The club is allowing all the major players of the team to go. Seriously, do you think it is the fault of the players? Andy, Nobby etc etc. This club will never again fight to be among the top six again with this policy.”
“I think you fans are the best and you deserve the best, not what they are doing with the club. Thanks to everyone for supporting me.”
“They give the money I have already. They lie all the time. But is no for money is because they don’t want spend in the club and bring quality players that’s why everybody go.”
That should get our players fired up enough to go out there and inflict some damage.
Howay the lads!
Date: Sunday, 1st April, 2012
Time: 1:30pm – Live on Sky
Venue St James’ Park