One of the eye-catching fixtures of this weekend will take place at St James’ Park as Newcastle United host Liverpool. There have been a number of entertaining matches between the two down the years and it should be a similarly good watch for the neutrals this time around. Rafael Benitez will be taking on his former club and that adds a layer of extra intrigue to the contest, especially given Jurgen Klopp’s own struggles at Anfield of late.
It has been a mixed start to the season for the Magpies as they have compiled three wins and three losses in their first six matches. They will be relatively pleased with that, but narrow defeats against fellow promoted clubs Huddersfield Town and Brighton away from home will be seen as missed opportunities. Their style of play has been effective when playing against teams that are happy to play on the front-foot, but they need to find a different strategy when playing against the more defensive sides.
Liverpool are due to give a team a battering as they continue to create lots of clear-cut chances without getting the reward. Part of the reason for that is their own poor finishing in front of goal, but they have too much quality for that to continue. Jurgen Klopp will be looking for a reaction after their failure to beat Spartak Moscow in the Champions League, but it won’t be easy for them at St James’ Park.
Newcastle recovered well from a poor start and have won three of their last four matches in the Premier League. During that period, they have conceded only two goals and they will look to be well organised against a dangerous Liverpool attack. They have looked a better side at home and that could play a part in the result this weekend as it will be a great atmosphere at St James’ Park.
During the month of September, Liverpool have picked up only one victory and that came last weekend against Leicester City. They have played six matches this month and they have been frustrated by a number of disappointing draws. Their schedule has been harsh on them, but they need to find a way to pick up wins even when they aren’t at their best.
Benitez is likely to keep an unchanged team, despite the defeat to Brighton. Jonjo Shelvey and Dwight Gayle are two players that could come in, but the latter is more likely to start. It would be a risk to start Shelvey against a Liverpool team that will dominate possession. Gayle’s pace could be a good weapon to use, but it would be more effective from the bench.
Although they didn’t win during the week, Liverpool picked their best team and deserved a lot more from their match against Spartak Moscow. It is likely that they select the same team on Sunday.
Aleksandar Mitrovic will be back from suspension and could return to the match-day squad to face Liverpool. Florian Lejeune is a doubt as he returns from an ankle injury. Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara remain on the long-term injury list.
Sadio Mane is back available after serving a three-match domestic suspension. Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne are both some time away from a return to action.
Score prediction: Newcastle United 1-1 Liverpool
During his time in charge at St James’ Park, Rafael Benitez has an impressive ability to bounce back from a defeat and he will be motivated to earn a positive result against his former club. Liverpool are a good attacking team, but the Newcastle boss is great at exploiting weaknesses in an opposition team and there are a few to get at in the current Reds’ team. It will be a great atmosphere at St James’ Park and they should have enough to gain a point from the encounter.