Date: Sunday, 4th November.
Kick off: 4:00pm
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Manchester).
UK TV: Sky Sports.
This Sunday, NUFC attempt to right a good few wrongs against Brendan Rodgers’s Liverpool at the home of the Red Bin Dippers.
Our record at Anfield is marginally better than that at Old Trafford unfortunately in reality its still poor. Since we joined the Premier League back in 1993 we have won only once in the red half of Merseyside and drawn twice from a total of eighteen league games. The one win came in our first season back in 93/94 with goals from Lee and Cole. Back in those days we were given the nickname “The Entertainers” by Sky Sports because of our fluid, positive, attacking play masterminded by KK. Nowadays the task of entertaining has passed on to Pardew and his contribution to open attacking football tends to be in the form of the “hoof” or “long ball”.
Despite having failed to ignite a talented team for more than 45 minutes in any game we’ve played this season, Pardew had his fingers crossed yesterday when interviewed on BBC Sport, as he had this to say:
“It was a tough summer. I convinced owner Mike Ashley that we needed another year with this team. We deserved it after last year, so we kept it all together even though some big hitters came in. But they are going to have to pay a lot of money for our players. I genuinely do believe that we can finish in the top four. I still think we are in a good position. I believe I can win every game.”
Not to be outdone in the BS stakes, his opposing number Rodgers claims his struggling side can still catapult themselves from the despairing depths of the bottom three, towards that very same top-four finish. Rodgers said:
“There’s absolutely no doubt it’s going to be a monumental achievement for us to reach the top four, but for me, you aim to win the league and if you can’t do that you finish as high as you possibly can. We know there’s everything against us in terms of depth of squad, because arguably ours is as shallow as any in the league, and we know the challenge that faces us with regard to the investment of other teams – there are at least five or six ahead of us with that but we have got a lot of points to play for. I believe that 70-plus points will allow you to arrive in the top four. So that gives us 60 points that we need over the remaining games.”
So it would appear both teams facing each other tomorrow have either deluded or wildly optimistic individuals in charge. Both are hoping for a top four finish while neither appear to possess the credentials to achieve that!
This season, rather like the last one, has seen Liverpool flatter once again to deceive. With some highs and lows already, Liverpool seem constantly on the verge of forward momentum only to return to step one the next match. The “highs” have been few and far between but undoubtedly the 5-2 thrashing of “Hoots’s” Norwich at Carrow Road would count along with the spirited performance at home to Citeh as well as the 5-3 win away in Switzerland against Young Boys at the Wankdorf.
However the “lows” seem to outnumber those with abject performances against the Baggies on the opening day (0-3), plus home defeats to Arsenal and the Mancs followed by this week’s embarrassing exit to Rodgers former employers Swansea in the Capital One cup. At Anfield this season only Reading have failed to win at least a point in the league while Anzhi were also beaten in the Europa League.
Total Games: 157
Games won: 40
Games drawn: 38
Games lost: 79
Our Premier League record of 9 wins, 6 draws and 21 defeats is not good but our stats at Anfield are woeful. Fifteen defeats in total and we have to go back eight years to the last time we managed a point in a 1-1 draw with Shola scoring.
Arguably the most celebrated game in Premier League history in the 20th century was the 4-3 defeat in 1995/96 (with KK’s famed head held in hands routine) when Les Ferdinand, David Ginola and Tino almost got us the win to put the pressure back on Manchester United in the race for the title. The match is often cited as the best Premier League game ever to have been played, and FIFA General Secretary Sepp Blatter praised Kevin Keegan for his attacking football philosophy and personally sent him a faxed letter commending “the positive attitude you bring to our game”, no doubt Pardew’s will be winging its way to him at the end of this season? Eventually the game was voted “Match of the Decade” on behalf of the Premier League in 2003 as part of the league’s ten year celebrations.
Amazingly enough the next season saw another 4-3 defeat at Anfield. Although the scoreline was identical Liverpool, were 3–0 up before the half-time interval, with goals from McManaman, Fowler and Berger. Newcastle scored three goals in 17 minutes in the second half before Fowler scored his second goal of the match in stoppage time in similar dramatic circumstances.
Form Guide (all competitions).
Liverpool – L,D,W,W,D,L.
Newcastle – W,W,D,L,W,D.
Team news and squads.
Goalkeeper Pepe Reina and full-back Glen Johnson could return for the Reds, while midfielder Lucas Leiva is back in training but this fixture will come way too soon for him. Long term absentees Martin Kelly (knee) and Fabio Borini (ankle) are both definitely out.
Surprisingly our former LB Jose Enrique doesn’t seem to figure in Rodgers plans too much and Johnson appears to have been switched to that position instead. Youngster Andre Wisdom, signed from Bradford originally as a CB, is now preferred at RB.
Knacked: Martin Kelly (knee), Fabio Borini (ankle).
Doubtful: Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson, Lucas Leiva.
Liverpool FC: Pepe Reina (G), Brad Jones (G), Jordan Henderson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Sebastian Coates, Jamie Carragher, Jack Robinson; Jonjo Shelvey, Joe Allen, Oussama Assaidi, Raheem Sterling, Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, Stewart Downing, Samed Yesil, Luis Suarez, Danny Ward, Andre Wisdom, Suso
Cheick Tiote is missing for the second game of his three match ban and we’re still without long term absentees Ryan Taylor, Dan Gosling and Haris Vuckic although Rob Elliot has returned to fitness. Demba Ba was rated 50-50 earlier in the week but latest reports suggest he’ll start on Sunday.
Newcastle United: Tim Krul (G), Steve Harper (G), Rob Elliot (G), Danny Simpson, James Tavernier, Shane Ferguson, Strven Taylor, James Perch, Mike Williamson, Davide Santon, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez, Hatem Ben Arfa, Vurnon Anita, Gael Bigirimana, Sylvain Marveaux, Gabriel Obertan, Mehdi Abeid, Romain Amalfitano, Sammy Ameobi, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Shola Ameobi, Adam Campbell.
Knacked: Ryan Taylor, Dan Gosling, Haris Vuckic (all knee).
Doubtful: Demba Ba.
Suspended: Cheick Tiote (second of three)
Referee: Manchester-based Anthony Taylor, who took charge of our League Cup defeat at Old Trafford earlier this season. We’ve lost both previous Premier League fixtures he’s handled: a 0-2 defeat at Spurs in December 2010 and West Brom’s 3-2 success at SJP in late 2011.
As usual I will give two possible line ups for the Toon – Pardew’s and my own preferred choice.
There has never been a better time to take on the RBD’s in their own back yard. Seven league defeats on the trot at Anfield is enough and it’s time for some payback providing Pardew has the cohones to start positively.
When Arsenal won earlier on in the season they had an in form Cazorla prompting from midfield, who won the game for the Gunners. The visitors zipped the ball around with disarming ease and their wide men drew defenders away as midfielders expertly plotted angled passes. HBA and Sammy could provide that blend of pace and trickery and Cabaye has to start showing the form that has earned him a regular spot as an established French international.
Forget 4-4-2 Pardew or we’ll be overrun in midfield yet again. Fight fire with fire and take the game to the Scousers who will be nervous and lacking in confidence at home particularly with the Swansea performance still fresh in their minds. Toon win 2-1.