Newcastle United will travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool on Sunday in what could be Andy Carroll's first game against the team he came up with. Newcastle and Liverpool last played each other on December 11. The game was Alan Pardew's first as manager of the Toon, and it was also one of Roy Hodgson's last as gaffer for the Reds. Newcastle won that match 3-1.
Follow the jump for this week's match preview, including CHN's Keys to Victory.
6th place, 52 points, 15-7-12
Injured (Questionable): Andy Carroll
Projected XI: Reina | Flanagan, Skrtel, Carragher, Robinson | Lucas, Spearing | Meireles, Kuyt | Suarez, Carroll
Newcastle United FC
12th place, 41 points, 10-11-13
Injured (Out):, , ,
Projected XI: Harper | Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Jose Enrique | Barton, Nolan, Tiote, Jonás | Lovenkrands, Ameobi
Match Official: Peter Walton
Obviously, a lot has changed for both sides since the last time they met, so you can just about throw anything learned from that match out the window, except for perhaps the confidence the Magpies will have going into Anfield. They'll need it in bucket loads, as Liverpool have been in excellent form the last several weeks, climbing from hints of relegation into serious contention for Europa, all the while playing incredibly well against top squads.
Newcastle, meanwhile, has had trouble scoring ever since the departure of Carroll and the subsequent season-ending injury to Leon Best, who had emerged as the sole candidate to wear the #9, at least internally. Injuries and suspensions have also taken their toll, though recently they've been about as healthy as they're likely to get before the season runs out.
The Toon doesn't have a whole lot to play for, with safety all but guaranteed and little incentive to catch the teams immediately ahead of them in the table. Recently, Shola Ameobi and some others publicly stated their intention to finish ahead of rival Sunderland, and while that would certainly be a welcome development, the whole thing smacks of a squad desperate to convince themselves that the last four games are even worth playing.
Competing against a former teammate will provide some incentive, but it's hard to envision a scenario that involves this team playing playing attacking football in an early game on the road, much less running around with their hair on fire. This one has snoozer written all over it, and not in a good way.
CHN's Three Keys to Victory
1) Provide support for Danny Simpson.
Last week Liverpool exploited Birmingham City's right side, to the tune of 5 goals. I assume that they've done their scouting and realize that Newcastle is weak at right back defensively. Joey Barton and Mike Williamson must do their best to provide Simpson with some support.
2) Cheik Tiote must keep Luis Suarez in his pocket.
If anybody knows how to stop Andy Carroll, it's the Magpies. The way to stop him is to cut off his supply line, because you're not going to beat him in the air. Tiote must frustrate Suarez, and he must do it by himself because of Key to Victory #1.
3) Score some goals already.
It's simple. The last time Newcastle scored more than one goal in a game against a team not named Wolverhampton was two and a half months ago. Now would be a good time to start scoring, not that I'm optimistic about it.
Prediction: LFC 3, NUFC 1