Newcastle United are absolutely flying in the Premier League following a seismic shift in fortunes after the completion of the Saudi-backed takeover in October 2021.
Despite drawing five of the past six top-flight matches, Eddie Howe’s team still perch in fourth place with 41 points after 22 matches, two points above Tottenham Hotspur and with a game in hand.
Welcoming Liverpool to St James’ Park today, there ought to be confidence that Jurgen Klopp‘s outfit – who languish in ninth place in the Premier League after a stark decline from 2021/22 and have lost their last three away top-flight matches 9-1 on aggregate – can be vanquished on Tyneside.
Joe Willock is injured, but Howe does welcome back the likes of Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin to the squad after respective setbacks. Elsewhere, £40m midfield powerhouse Bruno Guimaraes is sidelined once again as he completes the final game of his three-match suspension.
What could be Newcastle’s starting XI v Liverpool?
With this in mind, here is how Football FanCast expects Newcastle to line up against Liverpool, with a change in shape perhaps warranted following the shortage of regular options in the middle of the park.
Predicted line-up – Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Almiron, Longstaff, Joelinton, Gordon; Wilson, Isak
Between the sticks, Nick Pope – who holds the most clean sheets of any Premier League goalkeeper this season with 12 from 22 matches – will hope to continue his iron-clad grip on his team’s flying fortunes.
In defence, the established back four (all of whom have started 19 league games or more) will continue to hold their positions, having gelled together to great effect this term. The Magpies’ tally of 13 league goals conceded is eight fewer than the next-meanest defence in the top flight.
Due to the absence of Willock, Howe might indeed be inclined to play a traditional 4-4-2 formation, using Joelinton and Longstaff on the double pivot to establish control in the midfield and provide the base for a packed frontline.
Anthony Gordon might push for his first start since his £45m move from Everton last month, with Allan Saint-Maximin possibly returning to the bench in his stead. Despite previously being hailed by Gary Neville as “breathtaking“, the 25-year-old could pay the price for managing just one goal contribution (an assist in November) since the end of August.
At centre-forward, Alexander Isak will hope to terrorise the Reds once again after scoring on his debut against Klopp’s men in late August, with Callum Wilson returning to partner the Swedish marksman.
The 30-year-old was not risked against his former club Bournemouth last week after feeling some tightness, but he did find the net in his most recent appearance against West Ham a fortnight ago.
The Magpies have already tasted league defeat to Liverpool this term, and with that the only blemish on an otherwise unbeaten top-flight record, they will be out to avenge that last-gasp Anfield loss at what is sure to be a raucous St James’ Park this evening.
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