‘The Opposition Opinion’ is back this week with some thoughts from Merseyside ahead of our trip to face Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool this weekend.
Here we’re looking to bring you a view from the other side before each and every game this season, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own club and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
This week we’ve been speaking to Liverpool fan Peter, whose had the following to say ahead of our visit to Anfield:
Q1) With 9 goals in your last two games and some impressive wins under your belt of late it’s fair to say you’re flying. It’s not a game we expect to get anything from, but in the position we’re in we are looking for every scrap we can get. Do you think there’s any chance of complacency at your end in this one?
“If this game was earlier in the season, like when we first played, then I would say yes. Too often Liverpool have played very well and then not backed it up when playing teams, they should be beating at home.
“I think now though; Klopp has sacrificed a bit of creativity in midfield and has the team set up differently.
“This changed the mentality and I don’t think complacency is now an issue, especially when fighting for second place, rather than just coasting along in fourth.
“Van Dijk has also made a difference here as he seems to not allow his midfield ,or other centre half to abandon him so easily. Hopefully this continues and we carry on our excellent home form this season.”
Q2) What do you make of Newcastle’s current side based on what you saw in the 1-1 draw at St James’ Park earlier in the season and what you’ve seen of us since then?
“In a word, inconsistent. How can you beat Man Utd and then drop a 2 goal lead to Bournemouth?!
“The defence is solid and so is the midfield I still very much agree with what I said on the previous blog, the goal threat is very limited and I am very surprised it was not addressed in January. Some of those forwards would not look out of place in the Championship.
“However, I do think the whole sale of the club and the ‘’relegation clause’’ that has been thrown about by the interested parties had something to do with that.”
Q3) Obviously the attacking trio of Salah, Firmino and Mane are the big ones to watch for us on Saturday, but is there any other players that we should be watching our for on Saturday? Interested to know where you feel your biggest strengths and weaknesses as a team lie outside your prolific trio who tend to grab the headlines.
“Andy Robertson. He is strong in the tackle, and bombs up and down the pitch from minute 1 to 90, often delivering a good delivery. He also is covered well by Milner and gives Mane the space to drift inside which is key to how Liverpool play now.
“The biggest strengths outside the front three are Trent Alexander-Arnold at right back and Andy Robertson on the left. They both allow Mane and Salah to drift and often get in behind defences. Many teams come to Anfield and sit back making them very difficult to breakdown. Previously we have struggled but having these two at full back stretch the defence and give the big 3 the space they need.
“Our weakness is in midfield. Can, Milner and Henderson all do the same job and lack that world class creative spark that Coutinho had. This can be an issue, and we have seen that in the Swansea away game. With this been a home game though I expect someone like Wijnaldum or Oxlade-Chamberlain to take up the creative role and get us through to the end of the season.”
Q4) How do you see the match panning out and what sort of game do you think it’ll be? Score prediction?
“I think Newcastle will come and defend with scoring on the break or at a set piece their main hope.
“If Liverpool don’t score in the first half Anfield could get nervous about it being another one of those days.
“I think we will still get the win though. It will be a nervy half hour but Liverpool will score a couple and Newcastle will score from a Karius flap at a corner.
“Score Liverpool 3 – 1 Newcastle.”
Q5) With just 10 games to go, how do you see us faring in the fight for survival? Predicted league positions and your THREE sides to do down..?
“I think you will stay up and with you only being promoted this season that is a good result and with how close the bottom half of the table is you are only a Callum Wilson or Josh King away from 10th.
“My bottom 3 are;
18th – Crystal Palace
19th – Stoke
20th – West Brom
“I think now Arsenal seem to falling apart and Chelsea potentially/hopefully on a similar pattern I think we will finish 3rd behind Man Utd and Man City.”
Q6) Mo Salah – His form this season has been nothing short of sensational. Is there any way you feel we can stop him on Saturday and if so, what’s been the secret based on what you’ve seen this season? (not that many teams have ever stopped him!)
“I don’t think you can stop him at the moment! Tottenham tried to push him on to his right foot and he scored the goal of the season!
“The only team I have seen stop him so far is Swansea when we played them away, and even then he still had a couple of chances.
“Your best bet is to man mark him, play 5 at the back and make sure the defensive midfielders block the space in between the lines.”
7) And finally, Gini Wijnaldum – He scored 14 goals for us from midfield in his one and only season on Tyneside, yet he actually found himself heavily criticised during our unsuccessful attempt to stay up, with him having a tendency to go missing away from home. What are your thoughts on him?
“Sometimes he looks like a player with real quality, and sometimes he goes missing. It is so frustrating. I still think he has a lot to offer us going into next season but not as a first team player.
“I would prefer him to start over Oxlade-Chamberlain on the weekend, as it is a home game and we know what we will get out of him, but when Keita and hopefully another midfielder comes in during the summer, a bench spot would be fitting for him and I would be very happy with the amount of strength in depth that he would create.”
Interesting to see him state how surprised he is that we didn’t address our goalscoring problems in January. Obviously we signed Slimani, but the fact he still thinks this shows just how little impact the Algerian has been able to have so far.
It also seems like Liverpool’s marauding full-backs will be two to watch, with him seeming particularly impressed with Andy Robertson. He’s backing them to not show the complacency they showed at St James’ Park in the summer, feeling that Klopp’s side have learned a few crucial lessons and added balance to their team since then.
We’ll be back next week with the thoughts of a Southampton fan ahead of their visit to the North-East next weekend.
A tough game awaits – HWTL!