The Premier League decided to schedule a super-clash between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield to kick 2024 off and they couldn’t have picked a better pair of team as it’s the definition of a David against Goliath match.
Liverpool, in top form after defeating Burnley 2-0 the last time they played, will look to maintain their position at the top of the table while Newcastle will keep trying to finish the season in the top half of the EPL following a rare home defeat against Nott Forest, 3-1, the last time they played a game at SJP in 2023.
Liverpool comes off a win but recently drew against Mike Arteta’s Arsenal and could only narrowly beat Burnley.
Eddie Howe needs to start getting some positive results if he doesn’t want to start looking for a new job and a new home away from Newcastle sooner rather than later. PIF keeps saying good things and showing trust, but the situation is just unsustainable and the results are worse than mediocre—Chris Wood bagged three goals at SJP a few days ago, just saying.
Despite victories over Manchester United and Fulham to close the year, December has been a tough month for the Magpies and who know is Howe’s last one in charge... From the wider angle, Newcastle is closer to limbo than a top-4 finish in the Premier League. They are out of both the Carabao Cup and the Champions League. And worst of all, they can still crash out of the FA Cup at the hands of Sunderland of all teams in the nation by mid-January. Sheesh.
Liverpool won’t have Kostas Tsimikas and Andrew Robertson and they haven’t yet made a decision on Alexis Mac Allister’s availability. Newcastle also has a lengthy injury list that should start getting shorter as 2024 grows older, but for now, Howe will have to keep going without maintains such as Nick Pope, Sandro Tonali, and many others.
Here are some of Howe’s Wisdom Nuggets, courtesy of NUFC.co.uk
On his side’s injury news...
“(Joe) Willock and (Harvey) Barnes continue to work behind the scenes back from their respective injuries, but no immediate update on them. Jamaal (Lascelles) we don’t think it’s serious and we hope he’ll be back fairly soon.”
On the need to put an end to Liverpool’s recent dominance in this fixture...
“There’ve been a couple of painful games against Liverpool, for sure - the game last season at Anfield was particularly tough for us. This season wasn’t any easier. I think the positive thing in both of those games is we performed really well and were competitive, and gave Liverpool a really good game.
“I think, for us, we need to be near-perfect in this game. I think this is a really tough game for us. They’ve performed really well at home especially, they’re consistent, a really good team. So for us, the challenge is that we need to re-find our best form and we need to be mentally very strong.”
On the difference in the challenge posed by Klopp’s men...
“I think every game is different, every style is different. Liverpool have a way of playing that they’ve played very well for a number of years. They’ve slightly tweaked in terms of system but the style is very similar. It’s intense, it’s unrelenting, and we have to be really, really good tactically, so the preparation is important. The delivery is always the most important thing so it’s up to us all to get it right.”
On the return of Joelinton, who came off the bench against Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day...
“I think whenever you lose a player of Joe’s quality, or someone like that, and you’re without those qualities in your team you realise how important they are - not that we ever needed confirmation of that, but sometimes it’s felt harder, especially with some of the other players we’ve got missing.
“Joe came on and made a little cameo for ten or 15 minutes and showed what he can bring - his ability in duels, and to bring that fight in the middle of the pitch is something we missed in the game, so fingers crossed we can keep him fit.”
On his side’s schedule, which sees the Magpies face an FA Cup tie against Sunderland in the middle of league games against Liverpool and Manchester City...
“They’re tough games coming up, of course, but they’re the games you relish. I think we’ve had a lot of those games this season against very good teams so we’re not daunted by it - we will attack it and give it our best shot.
“Recent results have been a challenge for us - the last couple of performances haven’t been as good as they can be - so we’re determined to get back and produce our best football.”
- Date: Sunday, Jan. 1st
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST / 15:00 EST
- Location: Anfield, Liverpool (England)