Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool travel north to face Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United this Sunday, with the Reds looking to build on the impressive away victory at Leicester City in their last league appearance.
The game will no doubt be billed as a reunion between the Spanish boss and the side he won the Champions League with in 2005, but for current boss Jurgen Klopp, the only thing that matters is the three points.
Newcastle have had a decent start to the season overall, and have won half of the matches they have played, leaving them in tenth position in the table before the weekend’s fixtures begin.
They lost in disappointing fashion to Brighton last Sunday, but before that had won three games in a row against West Ham, Swansea and Stoke.
Liverpool are currently fifth, level with Tottenham and Watford on 11 points, five points off the early leaders Manchester City.
Sadio Mané has completed his three-game ban upheld from the controversial sending off against Manchester City and will return to the line-up.
Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne, who are both now back in training at Melwood, are not yet ready for action, but should not be too far away.
For the hosts, left backs Massadio Haidara and Paul Dummett remain out, but the rest of the team are available for selection. Benitez, known for tinkering during his time at Liverpool, could well opt for an unchanged eleven as Newcastle seek a response to last week’s defeat.
One man who is sure to play a part, almost certainly from the start, is Philippe Coutinho, who is likely to feature at every press conference for a long time after his antics during the summer.
“It’s good to have him here. The team was really happy when he came back – that’s professional football,” Klopp said when inevitably asked.
Another inevitability was a question on his opposite number, Rafa Benitez.
“He’s a very interesting person. I know he is still connected to the club and wishes it all the best,” he said.
“I saw Newcastle’s game against Brighton – good team. They were unlucky. We know about their quality”.
Liverpool, despite being level on points with Tottenham and sitting in fifth place, have come under pressure for their early performances, with a lack of ruthlessness a persistent issue.
“I have no problem with criticism; I only have a problem if people think we cannot solve problems. We know where we have to do better.
“It makes no sense to criticise finishing. I can’t shoot from the bench, but to help them is my job.
“I can’t make us more clinical. There isn’t one word I can say – you just have to keep going and do it again and again”.
This week also saw the suggestion that Sky Sports intend to move Liverpool’s trip to Arsenal to 4pm on Christmas Eve, causing a travel nightmare for away supporters who will return to Merseyside early on Christmas morning.
The club are keen for the fixture not to be scheduled then, with Arsenal in agreement, but the broadcaster is likely to wield all the power.
“I am not sure we can fight it. I can not imagine anyone wants to watch football that night, but I am not so important. This would mean not only do we play on the night of the 24th, but we would play four games in nine days,” Jurgen Klopp explained, although that is unlikely to make much difference.
For now, the task in hand for the Reds is to overcome Newcastle and start putting away some chances.
WHEN DOES THE GAME KICK OFF?
The match starts at 16:30 GMT and is live on Sky Sports.
WHO IS THE REFEREE?
Craig Pawson – has refereed five Premier League games so far this season including both of these two teams, giving out 25 yellow cards and one red, for Chelsea’s Gary Cahill.
He saw Liverpool beat Arsenal 4-0 at the end of August, and was also in charge as Newcastle lost 1-0 at fellow promoted side Huddersfield Town the week before.
Newcastle have won four of their last six matches at home to Liverpool, winning both of the previous two encounters without conceding a goal.
Newcastle: Elliot; Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Mbemba; Merino, Hayden; Ritchie, Perez, Atsu; Joselu
Liverpool: Mignolet; Gomez, Lovren, Matip, Robertson; Henderson, Coutinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Sturridge, Mané
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