Friday Oct 31Posted by: Guest Writer  No Comments »

Newcastle v Liverpool, match preview

By @paul__baker

Saturday 1st of November
Kick off: 12:45
Live on BT Sport

True to form, Liverpool visit St James Park on Saturday, just when the Magpies seem to have turned around their season. A few weeks ago Manager Alan Pardew looked certain to be joining the queue at his local Job Centre Plus after nearly four years in charge. His side however have recorded back to back Premier League wins and also knocked out the holders of the Capital One Cup this week.

Newcastle will go into the match, full of optimism and seeking another three points to continue their journey up the League table.

After a late win in midweek, Liverpool will be keen to pick up three points and attempt to win in style, to set them up forTuesday’s game against Madrid.

For Newcastle, Cheick Tiote will miss the match with his calf. The Ivory Coast player has failed to recover in time. Papiss Cisse is a doubt. The striker is suffering discomfort from his fractured kneecap. Ayoze Perez is in line to keep his starting place if Cisse misses out. Newcastle will check on central defender Williamson before naming the starting 11.

The Reds are currently nine points off the title race, but the results lately have
shown that all teams this season are going to drop points. This makes every seemingly winnable game, even more important. With the Club yet to play Chelsea, the gap could even be as close as three points. The time for the side to rediscover last seasons form is now! Before the other sides also looking for a top four finish, go on a run, pick up points and pull ahead of the Reds.

After weeks and weeks of criticism towards Italian Striker Mario Balotelli, his late goal in the week, will hopefully give him the belief in himself that the goals with start to flow. Maybe Rogers will again use him as a super sub? That may be his ideal role, at least until Daniel returns to action.

Raheem Sterling will return to the Reds line up after being rested in the Cup match. His pace will cause the Newcastle defence no end of problems. Add Phil Coutinho in the mix, who turned in a super performance against Swansea and Liverpool should be able to create plenty of chances. If Super Mario plays and gets in the box enough, he may pick up his first Premier League goal!

With Sturridge still missing with his calf issue, Fabio Borini will be asking the Manager for a starting berth after his impressive performance against Swansea. Borini looked well up for it against the Swans and at one point was encouraging the supporters to increase the noise even more! His passion for the Club is refreshing to see in the modern game! Some players would be more then happy to sit on the bench and pick up a huge pay packet every week! His long term future may still yet be away from Anfield, but while he is here, he should receive the full backing of the supporters.

Poor Ricky Lambert may be back on the bench. He is giving 100% for his boyhood Club, but for whatever reason, it’s not quite happening yet for him!

The Reds are still without defenders Sakho (Thigh) Flanagan and Enrique (both knee) The rest of the squad are fit and ready to play.

In the highest scoring Premier League fixture ever, if Liverpool get ahead and score first, they need to be aware that Newcastle have come from behind in four of their last seven games. Concentration will be the key word!

Match Stats: (Source Opta)

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last four meetings with Newcastle (W2, D2).

There has never been a goalless draw between these sides in their 40 Premier League clashes. The last time a meeting ended 0-0 was in February 1974.

Newcastle have had five players sent off in their last four league games against Liverpool.

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Thursday Oct 30Posted by: Antoine Zammit  No Comments »

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Wednesday Oct 29Posted by: James Nelson  No Comments »

Better, But We Still Need More Urgency

Last night’s League Cup tie offered some encouragement to Liverpool supporters. The first half in particular, we dominated and looked solid. Nowhere near our best, but a vast improvement on some of what we’ve seen recently. And after conceding a disappointing goal, with mentality, confidence, and form all taking a hit from our poor start to the season, we at least showed the will to get back into it. In a competition where it may have been easy to throw in the towel and accept a lighter fixture list.

We will hopefully take a lot of positivity from the two late goals it took to win us the game, as the match did prove that if we don’t seize the initiative when we’re on top, we will get punished. We enjoyed a large amount of possession, but too often we weren’t capitalising on brief lapses of concentration, or breaks in the organisation of Swansea. We need to find that urgency, and hunger to score goals, instead of worrying too much that we’ll give the ball away if we try something a bit different.

Javi Manquillo had a pretty decent game at right back, but on a couple of occasions he had the ball on the wing, and moved forward with it for a few feet, but then stopped needlessly to pass sideways or backwards. With his pace and athleticism, we need to see him really bombing forward until some form of challenge comes in from an opponent at least. Sometimes just that show of flair and turn of pace when a player charges forwards is enough to put the opposition on the back foot and force them into making a mistake.

Kolo Toure was another unlikely culprit of this. Once or twice he had acres of space in front of him, but instead of advancing forward into it himself, he passed to a midfielder who then had to use the space to retreat into under pressure from a Swansea player. Because of this, we ended up facing our own goal, when it could have been a good opportunity to attack.

It was too common a theme throughout the game. Swansea may have sat deep and made it difficult, but our attackers kept receiving the ball and almost immediately turning their backs to goal under even the slightest bit of pressure. Doing this not only slows down our attack, but also allows the other team to reorganise, as well as mentally giving them a boost as they feel in control.

A cause of this problem was our lack of runners in behind. To his credit, Manquillo did try his best to be an outlet down the right side, even if it would be nice to see him show such enthusiasm when on the ball. Otherwise though, our entire attack of Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini, Philippe Coutinho, Lazar Markovic, and often Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson too, were all playing in and around the same area; the small block of space just outside the opponent’s penalty box. Each player wanted to get on the ball, so often we lacked anyone making the gamble with a bit of movement in behind the defenders for the player in possession to pick out. Even if nothing comes of it,  just the threat of a player trying to get in on goal can be worth the sacrifice if it gives the defenders something extra to think of it. We have a talented bunch of players, and each probably feels they’re wasted if they’re spending a lot of the game running offside, then being unavailable for a pass until they get back onside if they weren’t found. But yesterday we ended up with too many attacks going to waste with shots from far out, or players having to stop and pass sideways, because there wasn’t an option ahead of them.

Coutinho was visibly frustrated by this, as he was getting on the ball a lot and showed some fantastic touches and turns, but then didn’t have a lot to aim at when he wriggled free. With Swansea sitting back it did mean a pass through them would have to be inch perfect, but he is capable of such precision. It’s just a lot of the time he didn’t even have a target. Teams defending deep is something we should be used to by now, and even if you can’t penetrate through the middle for a direct chance at goal, getting someone clear in a wide area can lead to a dangerous cut back or cross, or a defender going in recklessly and committing a foul.

Individually, Lambert had a quiet game and didn’t quite assert himself as much as I would have liked. Markovic was very poor; he just doesn’t look up to speed at all at the moment. Toure and Lucas I thought were both impressive considering how little they have played this season. Borini did himself no harm at all with a lively outing, and Mario Balotelli and Dejan Lovren will hopefully both take a much-needed confidence boost from their goals.

If anything, it was good to watch us dominate a game and not look a complete calamity at the back. We may need to scrape a few more wins with solid but unspectacular performances before we can talk about really getting back to our best, but a few positive signs were there.

By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)

Wednesday Oct 29Posted by: Antoine Zammit  No Comments »

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