Liverpool (H) Predicted line-ups, pre-match thoughts & team news

Fresh from all the “mass hysteria” and “ridiculous histrionics” over the past week, Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United welcome Liverpool to St James’ Park.

The Reds currently sit top of the Premier League and won their last away game by SEVEN goals to nil, however West Brom’s 1-1 draw at Anfield just a few days ago proves they can be stopped.

Will Steve Bruce be able to follow in Big Sam’s footsteps and nullify their threats? Will he surprise us and have a go? Or will it be another damage limitation job that sees us look petrified to get out of our own half?

Well, according to his Tuesday morning press conference he’s hoping we “roll our sleeves up and shut a few people up”. Inspiring and charming stuff.

We can’t go toe to toe with Klopp’s men – that would only end one way – but Liverpool will arrive on Tyneside with ZERO fit centre-backs on Wednesday, with Van Dijk and Gomez long-term absentees and Matip also ruled out after limping over the weekend.

The height of Bruce’s ambitions may be to just keep us in the league and hope for the best when we play the big guns, but it would be nice to see us actually have a go and give fans sat on their sofas something to enjoy.

We don’t expect to win every week, but it would be nice to see us try to – especially when the opposition will be forced to field a midfielder and one of their U-23 talents at the back!

Team news

The bad news is that Saint-Maximin (Covid after effects) and Fraser (groin) remain out, however it looks as though Wilson will be fit to return.

Dummett and Hendrick are both unwell, Lascelles is ‘making inroads’ but unlikely to return in time and Shelvey appears to be touch and go, with him back in training but “very sore” a month on from a groin operation.

The lack of updates on Dubravka also suggests this one will come too soon for the Slovakian – despite him being back on the grass over the past week – however Manquillo could be one to watch after he too returned to training recently.

For the visitors, they’ll be without Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip at the back, missing Naby Keita in midfield and Jota in attack, however Milner and Shaqiri could return to the squad after spells on the sidelines.

Predicted line up

(5-4-1): Darlow – Manquillo, Fernandez, Schar, Clark, Lewis – Murphy, Hayden, M Longstaff, Almiron – Wilson.

OUT – Ritchie, Yedlin, Joelinton?

IN – Lewis, Manquillo, Wilson?

It seems Lascelles won’t be ready to return for this one and Dummett isn’t well, so it seems likely that Bruce goes with the same three centre-backs. Hayden could slot in if Schar can’t play twice in a few days, but the former may be needed in midfield for this one.

With Ritchie struggling at Man City and not having the pace to cope with the likes of Mo Salah, I can see Jamal Lewis coming back in after a rest over the weekend. That said, the former Norwich star will need to be more more switched on if he’s to play against the Egyptian goal machine!

At right wing-back, Yedlin actually did ok at Man City, however I’ve noticed that Manquillo has been in training for over a week now. With Krafth taking a while to recover from COVID and Murphy needed out wide now ASM and Fraser are out, I think the Spaniard may make a surprise return to the starting XI. Considering he’s proven himself to be our best right-back in recent years, it would be a boost IF he’s fit enough!

In midfield, Bruce would be silly to bring Shelvey straight back in to play against his former club. Not only has he got a “very sore” groin after “playing too many games” (Bruce’s comments after the City defeat), he’s not a player who can offer the intensity and energy needed to cope with an industrious Liverpool midfield.

Matty Longstaff actually did little wrong at Man city, especially considering it was his first Premier League start of the season, so it would be very harsh if he was to drop out of the side. Hayden may well need a rest, meaning Sean could come back in, however I’d like to see him partner Matty again if he’s ok to go again.

In attack, Wilson seems almost certain to return up top and Jacob Murphy deserves another shot out wide after being by far our most promising attacker at The Etihad.

Almiron was sloppy at the weekend and at fault for their second goal, but he seems likely to start out wide (if it’s another 5-4-1), with Joelinton lacking the pace to hurt Liverpool on the counter and ASM and Fraser ruled out.

The opposition

We all know about the goal machine that’s Mo Salah, the devastatingly dynamic Sadio Mane, unstoppable Andy Robertson and creative force that is Trent Alexander-Arnold, but here’s a few other ones to watch in Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side:

Phillips / Williams – With Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip all ruled out, it’ll be either 19-year-old Rhys Williams or U-23 talent Nat Phillips who start alongside Fabihno at centre-back. This may be the Premier League champions we’re facing, but we’ll never get a better chance to get at them defensively.

Takumi Minamino – The Japanese attacker has struggled since he arrived from Red Bull Salzburg this time last year, but he put in arguably his best performance as a Liverpool player in their 7-0 win at Crystal Palace, opening the scoring and creating space for others with intelligent movement. With him likely to be recalled, he could be one to watch.

Xherdan Shaqiri – With so many sides forced to rotate over the hectic festive period, we could well see the likes of Shaqiri of Oxlaide Chamberlain get a rare start for the Reds. Shaqiri is a clever player whose technical ability and craft could be used to find gaps in our likely low block.

Predicted Liverpool XI: (4-2-1-3): Alisson – Alexander-Arnold – Phillips, Fabinho, Robertson – Henderson, Wijnaldum – Shaqiri – Salah, Firmino, Minamino.


Wilson may be back and could be a handful for one of Liverpool’s young centre-backs, but I’m not convinced we’ll set up in a way that allows him to!

Liverpool will be looking to respond to that drab display in a 1-1 draw with West Brom over the weekend and I don’t see us having the answers at either end to stop them doing exactly that.

PredictionNewcastle 1-3 Liverpool


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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

35 thoughts on “Liverpool (H) Predicted line-ups, pre-match thoughts & team news

  1. Man City only had 3 players and 2 staff test positive and the PL cancelled their game with 4 hours notice. Double standards. We had the same before Palace and it went ahead. Now we have players still out, players “fatigued” and a player in France as well as 2 who are “poorly” according to Bruce – whatever that means.

    I actually think they did the right thing with City as when the bubble bursts you have to be ultra careful. But it also shows that they did the wrong thing with us and we are suffering the consequences. There is no way the West Brom game should have gone ahead.

    But, one rule for the big boys and another for the rest.


  2. This is for Kimtoon: PL says they have no plans for a pause. But what history shows with Covid is that they say one thing and then a couple of days later do a U-turn so I wouldnt be surprised if after playing the New Years games that there is a 2 week pause.

    This virus is very complicated so they should be careful and letting in 2000 fans into games on Merseyside is just plain stupid. That was their plan yesterday for Everton/City.


  3. Against Palace, we had 2 staff and 2 players test positive, THAT WE WERE TOLD ABOUT. But St Max also didnt travel. How is that different to City. Same numbers!!! We also know now that 1 staff member was positive 2 weeks before.

    I really do get sick of the drip,drip, drip of news from NUFC and I am highly suspicious of the new “poorly” players Bruce mentions.


  4. I thought Bruce claiming histrionics & hysteria was a bit much. Fans are entitled to criticise poor performances – especially when he himself accepts they aren’t good enough.

    But I have since seen a number of you tube things that are so clearly desperate to follow in the over the top foot steps of AFTV – one of which Lee Ryder featured on. I can only assume that Bruce has saw it and that explains his reaction to his question after the City game.

    I want to say Ryder should concentrate on his writing, but to be honest, I’m not sure he ever has. He’s a nugget.

    True Geordie made it big off posting rants about Pardew & Carver – and I suspect there are a few budding you tubers wanting follow suit off the back of Bruce.

    Bruce needs to stop paying attention to such videos. Watch videos of your next opponents and come up with a plan – not you tube.

    The silliest has to stop. He has a run of games where his focus has to 100% be on how to get a result.


  5. Eric – I agree with you about the double standards mate. I think Pep also has a number of players out injured too, so why not?!. To do it the day of the game is bad form though & I don’t blame Everton for challenging it.


  6. As for our game with Lpool – I only see us getting the backlash of they WBA draw – I think we get smashed.

    3-0 or less and we’ve done well.

    I predict now that we break our own records for lack of possession, passes, shots – you name it.


  7. Sharpy: Bruce has shot himself in the foot commenting on social media and I include Youtube in that. The problem he has is that he has used the same terms in the past and things did not get better and he got sacked.

    The only Youtube channel I watch is Wraith’s and they are all reasonably calm, at least for now. True Geordie seems to have moved on and does panel discussions with fans of other teams. That’s smart because the rants get old after a while if that is all you do. Still, I havent watched in a year or so but there is a place for stuff like that because otherwise you leave it to the journos who have their own biases and tend to be very arrogant – you only have to look at Neil Custis and others on Sunday Supplement. Custis is the worst, he is incredibly self centred and thin skinned.


  8. As fans, we are so committed to the team that everything is a bit knee-jerk. I know I am guilty of it. The problem is when there is a disconnect between what we see and what the Manager and pundits tell us we are seeing. I think that causes more anger than anything else. I know it does with me.

    It is sort of pointless doing Bruce bashing in this run of games that we dont expect anything from anyway. He has been dealt a bad hand with the virus and hasnt really complained THAT much. Normally, he is a bit of an excuse machine like Pards so he deserves a bit of credit there. That will probably change after tomorrow’s game though 🙂

    Liverpool is not the game to suddenly play expansive football. We are not Leeds who play it week in week out. We are 9-0-1 most weeks and especially against the top 6. That is our identity under Bruce and we really cannot change it against the best team in the country.


  9. I have to be honest and say I have never watched a lot of Bruce teams in the past. Partly because a lot have been in the Championship and that is not on TV in the US, but also because of the teams he has managed in the PL. Seriously, how many of us went out of our way to watch Wigan, or Birmingham or Hull, or even the Mackems? I dont know what his style of football was with other teams. Was it always ultra-defensive because he had crap players and now he has better players he doesnt know what to do with them?

    It would be interesting to know the Villa or Mackem take. It worries me that he has gone on death spirals and it worries me that covid gives him an excuse for the negative setup and railing against fans. But to take the other side, it was never going to be any different over the holiday period. We all expected zero points from Man City through Arsenal.


  10. There has been a terrible development over here with Covid but it might wake some people up. A Congressman who was only 41 years old died today. He tested positive on Dec 18. And yet the Trumpers are going ahead with massive maskless New Years’ parties and his rallies had up to 10,000 people at them, many of them elderly and acting like it is all a hoax. When they were interviewed THEY SAID IT IS A HOAX. Many saying stuff like “you’ve got to go sometime”. I have watched enough news reports to know it is often a long and painful death and that even if you survive there are often lasting after effects. There is no accounting for the stupidity of some of the American people!

    This politician is not well known so it might not make any difference. I always thought it would take a high profile death to drive this home and this guy is probably not high profile enough.

    Big Fat Sam is calling for a pause in the PL. I dont necessarily disagree with him but I do question his motives.


  11. Has everybody read about Neymar’s 5 day New Years’ rave in Rio. He has invited 500 people. This is Brasil with the 3rd most Corona Virus deaths in the world. Are they even going to let him back into France and will he have to quarantine? What about St Max? I assume he will have to quarantine. There is something fishy there with him going back to France.

    From my own standpoint, I called off a trip to Florida in 3 weeks even though it would be warm and I would be outside. But I would have to quarantine on returning to Chicago. I have kept an eye on developments in other places.

    It looks like LA basically has a travel ban. If you fly in there you have to sign a form saying you will quarantine for 10 days. What about if you are staying for only a few days? If you dont quarantine you can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined. The fines are pretty heavy. I just wouldnt go as my guess is that if you do not have an LA address they would put you on a plane back to where you came from.

    See, it is not just the UK or the PL who do not know what they are doing.


  12. I think there is a way around the quarantine and that is to get a negative test. Good luck getting a test in Chicago. I looked into it and the testing centres are all like 20 miles away and is that really what I want to do? Spend 3 hours in line with people that are worried enough that they have Covid that they feel the need to be tested.


  13. Good news day. The Oxford vaccine gets approval for use, please God let this be the key to getting our lives back to normal.
    Well done and thank you to all the scientist and trial volunteers who made this possible .


  14. Micah Richards played under SB at Villa. He said the training sessions were amazingly good but then added that in team talks SB stressed they must keep their shape and stay in their positions.
    That’s my main criticism of the bloke. You can actually see that on the pitch. If you’re a central midfielder then you stay in central midfield.
    The bloke’s a dinosaur stuck in the wrong century who knows he’s lost the fans. Has to go!


  15. I have been ranting for a month and now there is recognition from the PL. They were treating covid seriously but I dont know if they had the first clue what they were doing.


  16. Looks like my crazy rantings about Covid/NUFC/ PL were correct. That the PL were not taking it seriously enough and their protocols were dumb. I am sure hardly anybody read what I said but you can go back to previous threads and see that I was correct.

    Going forward, it looks like a shutdown. That will make Big Fat Sam happy.

    I had chickenpox when I was a kid. My brothers had it. It was summer, I was a really good cricketer and wanted to be out, to play for the school team. I had to stay at home for 2 weeks. This is not much different to that – except you can die or give it to someone who might die 🙂



  17. And I was right about Grealish. Said it a year ago and now every pundit and blogger in the world is saying it. He knocks it past a player and runs into them on purpose to buy a foul. But not as much now as he has some decent players to pass to.


  18. So pretty much the whole of the country in Tier 4 but the PL intended to allow 2000 fans into Goodison on Monday. Is the PL run by monkeys? Is the Govt run by monkeys? Is Donald Trump an Orangutan? Will I wake up tomorrow and find the Statue of Liberty on a beach and Charlton Heston in a cage?


  19. I was pretty close on the team. Only really Yedlin instead of Krapth I was wrong on. But there is Covid so I never thought I would get it exactly right.


  20. Steve Bruce programme notes (written before Brentford and Man City): “There’s still a lot to improve on but I honestly believe we are heading in the right direction, even if it’s not quite as quickly as some might like“.

    Speechless 😶


  21. So Govt have said Liverpool in tier 3 and no more games on Merseyside.

    What a shock!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Should I just become government Minister for the obvious that happens next!!!!


  22. Sorry, FANS on Merseyside, they were letting in 2000 when it was obvious everything was getting worse. IDIOTS. Games havent been called off YET.

    Jan 3 or 4 before a “PAUSE” is my guess.


  23. So many times when we get the ball we just panic. I don’t believe they do anything in training that resembles ball retention.


  24. Well that was a surprisingly decent first half. Dare I say it but I think Joelinton has done quite ok. I like Murphy too, he can pass a good ball.

    I still think we will get beat but maybe not by 7.


  25. Well whatever the outcome, an hour in and we have been thoroughly decent tonight.

    This is the kind of performance we have been asking for – whether we win the game or not, Lpool know they are in a game tonight.

    Good on Brucey, and well played lads 🤞🏼🤞🏼


  26. Fair play, I was impressed & entertained by that performance.

    I’ve doubted whether the players were there for Bruce based on the last 3-4 games. I’ve accused them of going through the motions – but that’s not the case tonight.

    Stand out performers for me tonight – Darlow (the lad is outstanding for us) and Matty Longstaff – showed great energy in midfield, something we’ve sorely missed – something Shelvey, Hendrick & Sean have not produced so far this season imo.

    Well done Brucey. Good point & very good performance 👍🏻👏🏼👏🏼


  27. Wow. I didn’t expect that. Darlow outstanding but so we’re all the defenders. Great performance and I’ll take that point. Darlow easily MoTM for me with Schar close behind. Mattie did so much better than Sean has done before.
    Happy with that.


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