A bumper Saturday in the Premier League kicks off with Liverpool’s lunchtime trip to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle United for the first of eight games on the day.
It is a fixture that is positively brimming with history; the battles of the mid-late 90’s when these two served up two successive seven-goal thrillers at Anfield rank up there among the best EPL matches of all time.
Although they’ve slipped off the top-four pace in recent years, Liverpool has enjoyed some big days out on Tyneside. A 5-1 Liverpool victory in this fixture in 2009 still remains fresh in the memory, whilst the most recent meeting on this turf saw the away side romp to a 6-0 victory at the back end of last season.
Liverpool currently occupy second place in the EPL table being kept off the summit by goal-difference and are seemingly going from strength-to-strength under manager Brendan Rodgers. After opening the season with three consecutive wins, a shock home loss to Southampton seemed typical of the modern-day Reds who have consistently dropped points in fixtures they are expected to win. Perhaps more significantly though is the way they have responded to that defeat having not let it infest their impressive start to the season by winning each of their two following games 3-1.
Daniel Sturridge has carried the can as far as goals are concerned; the England striker leads the league with six strikes already this season. The ominous return of Luis Suarez left a question mark as to Sturridge’s current role with the team and whether the two could function to their fullest extent as a duo. In response, the latest installment of the famed ‘S and S’ striking partnership have combined for five of the last six Liverpool goals leaving Liverpool fans salivating at the prospects of this harmonious relationship.
Newcastle United has served up a real pick ‘n mix on the season so far, having won as many games as they’ve lost (3) leads you to believe they will be bouncing around in mid-table for the majority of the season. A disappointing home defeat against newly promoted Hull City was sandwiched between credible away victories at Aston Villa and Cardiff City leaving their supporters with contrasting feelings of both elation and frustration.
Where would the Toon Army be without Loic Remy this season? As the only notable transfer business for the Magpies between this season and last, the on-loan Frenchman has contributed over half of the teams league goals on his lonesome thus far. Remy is setting the standard in the North-East and his five goals in three games is keeping Newcastle afloat whilst his fellow striker Papiss Cisse aims to rekindle the form that he found upon arrival some 18 months ago.
Liverpool’s installation as favorites with the bookmakers is reaffirmed by the contrast in the injury woes of the two sides. Newcastle will have to do without midfielder Jonas Gutierrez and perhaps more destructively, their first choice center-back partnership as Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor remain sidelined for at least another week. Mike Williamson and Yanga-Mbiwa are most likely to deputize though this serves as a real gulf in class. On the other hand, cultured midfielder Phillipe Coutinho remains Liverpool’s only major absentee though the return of Suarez has papered over this crack seamlessly.
If one thing is for certain it’s that you’re going to get goals in this one as compliment to your Saturday lunch. Not only does the game pit the Premier League’s two most in-form striking talents against each other, it’s worth noting that this fixture has not drawn a blank since way back in 1974! Only the bottom two sides in the EPL have conceded more goals than Newcastle this season, whilst Liverpool have kept only one clean sheet on their travels and as was the case in their previous two games, have a habit of conceding a customary goal as part of an otherwise comfortable victory.
With Ben-Arfa, Cabaye and Remy going forwards, Newcastle should find plenty of attacking joy but you just can’t look past that makeshift defense, which is what will ultimately seal the deal in the visitor’s favor this Saturday. Liverpool will return to the top of the table with victory, for a couple of hours at least.