As ever, we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before this week’s game, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own side and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
Here’s what Scott had to say to us ahead of the game:
Q1 – I’d ask what you’ve made of your season so far, but unbeaten & 4 clear of City at the top speaks for itself! Do you genuinely think this is your year?
“Well it’s been an incredible season so far, there’s very little to complain about for Reds at the moment. The performances on the pitch and our league position speak for themselves, but the feeling around the Club is something I’ve never experienced before. There’s a real togetherness among the fans that’s reflected by the team on the pitch. Klopp has answered his critics and sorted his defence out and we’re winning emphatically and are able to grind out results.
“With this being said, I’m still keeping my feet very much on the ground. Manchester City are as strong as ever, Tottenham are a dangerous side and aren’t a million miles behind us, so it’s still very open.”
Q2 – Could the pressure get to you now you’re top of the pile by a few points & no longer seen as the chasers? The City result was a huge shock, but could complacency creep in at your end as a result? – especially now you’re facing a Newcastle side many of you will see as an easy 3 points..
“If you had asked me this in seasons gone by, I’d have said yes. But I firmly believe that Klopp will not let that happen. The lads seem so focused and in-tune with the task at hand.
“The Newcastle game is another game against a side that is more than capable of not only making life difficult for Liverpool, but also posing a threat. On paper, of course the balance looks firmly tipped in Liverpool’s favour, but we all know that football is never that simple – just look at Palace’s result at City at the weekend. Rafa Benitez is a top tactician and will certainly set his team up to make life very tricky for Liverpool, but Klopp will ensure his side go out there and take nothing for granted.”
Q3 – Could Klopp be set to rotate heavily given you’re set to face Arsenal and City after us? Who do you expect to start and who are the ‘ones to watch’ (aside from the obvious) for us? Any weaknesses we could exploit? (I need some form of hope!)
“There will be a few changes, that’s for sure. Wijnaldum could well come back into the middle to play his former team, and Alexander-Arnold could well start at right back after returning to full training this week. If he doesn’t start, Clyne could be in for a run-out as Milner played at the back against Wolves in the last game. I think the rest of the defence picks itself due to form and injuries, but it’ll be interesting to see who Klopp opts for in midfield. Keita picked up a knock at The Molineux but looks set to be fit, and Shaqiri was unused so could well come in from the start – and he would certainly be one to keep an eye on. He’s been brilliant whenever he’s played so far this season and is so inventive with and without the ball.
“Either one of Salah, Mane or Salah could be rested with Lallana or Sturridge coming in to keep some legs fresh. If Fabinho plays again, he would certainly be a danger. If Newcastle let him start dictating play in the middle of the park, Liverpool will overwhelm Newcastle in the middle of the park.
“Then there’s Andrew Robertson, who’s in sensational form. He’s such a threat down the left, and his delivery into the box is second-to-none, so the Magpie’s defence will have to be on their toes.”
Q4 – Which players do you see as the strengths AND weaknesses in this Newcastle’s side? Anyone you’re wary of and anyone you don’t rate?
“Salomon Rondon is always a worry for me as he’s quick, strong and has a good eye for goal as well as being a threat in the air. Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren can’t afford to take their eyes off him from set pieces and need to be wary of direct balls into him to bring his team mates into play.
“Ayoze Perez is also capable of something special, and Matt Ritchie on his day is a dangerous player.
“In terms of weaknesses, I would be concerned about Manquillo if I was a Newcastle fan. He’s going to have either Mane and Robertson or Salah and Alexander-Arnold/Clyne running at him for 90 minutes, and we know how dangerous all of those players can be. He has undoubtedly grown since his ill-fated spell at Anfield, but I still don’t think he’s up to much. He’ll need to make sure he’s fully focused.”
Q5 – What sort of game do you think it’ll be and how do you see it panning out? Score prediction?
“I think it’ll be quite predictable. Newcastle are likely going to set up in a compact, defensive formation, maybe even with five at the back in a bid to limit the space Liverpool’s forwards have to run into.
“Benitez will definitely aim to frustrate Klopp’s men, but I think that Liverpool have got the firepower and guile to work a way around this, and have ample quality in the squad to be able to force their way through.
“I think it’ll be another win at Anfield for Liverpool, I’m going for 3-0.”
Q6 – Rafa Benitez – As we all know, he was the man who guided you to that famous Champions League trophy. He still seems to be adored on Merseyside and has recently drawn comparisons between both our fanbases and cities. What are your thoughts on him and his situation at Newcastle? Can you see him walking in the summer when his contract expires or do you think he’ll battle on in a bid to get us competing again?
“There’s no question that Rafa Benitez is and always will be a legend on Merseyside – not only for what he achieved with the Club, but for the way he embraced Liverpool as a whole, his charity work and the way he conducted himself.
“The man is a true gent of the footballing world and commands the uttermost respect, so many Liverpool fans feel irked by how he is being treated on Tyneside. We shouldn’t be surprised, though, as this has always been Mike Ashley’s style and it’s such a shame as Newcastle is a great club with a wonderful history.
” If he continues to be frustrated and let down by the board, he will walk. He’s a man of principles and he won’t stick around if he’s being taken for granted. I think he’s really enjoying the project at St James’ Park, but if Ashley continues to mess him around, he won’t be there for too much longer.”
Q7 – If you could sign one player from this NUFC side, who would you like to see Klopp go for?
“Easy question this, Jamaal Lascelles. He’s a brilliant defender who caught the eye last season in particular, and would be a stellar addition to Liverpool’s defensive options.
“Recent injuries have highlighted the need for Klopp to get in more centre back options, and Lascelles as a ball-playing defender fits the bill really well. He’s a bit like van Dijk in the sense that he’s a real leader and I think he could be a really useful player for us.
“It would all just depend on how much football he’s happy to be playing as when Joe Gomez is fit, he and van Dijk are without doubt Klopp’s first choice partnership.”
Q8 – Finally, do you think there’s any way we can get a result here. We have scored just 14 all season (2nd lowest in league), but Rafa has us so organised away from home, with us being big fans of goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and spoilt for choice at centre back for the first time in years. We’ll no doubt sit deep, get 10 men behind the ball and try to frustrate. If you rotate and don’t have your big guns in from the start, could we see an upset?
” It’s always possible, of course, and I won’t write off that possibility, but I think it’s very difficult to see anything else but a Liverpool win. When you consider our current form and our unbeaten run at Anfield that stretches a very long way (to last season I think!), it would be something of an upset to see Newcastle walk away from Anfield with even a point.
“We’ve shown this season and last that we have found the formula to overcome teams who come to Liverpool to sit deep and frustrate us – but this is football and it is the Premier League. Just ask Manchester City, I’m sure they’ll tell you that they expected a cricket score against Crystal Palace but these things happen sometimes!”
A big thanks to Scott for chatting to us this week, with him clearly feeling there’ll be no complacency in their camp for this one.
Next up will be the thoughts of a Watford fan before Saturday’s trip to Vicarage Road.