7am, live in the US on Setanta
Last 4 head-to-head:
3-0 Liverpool (h) 03.08.08
3-1 Liverpool (a) 11.24.07
1-2 Newcastle (a) 02.10.07
2-0 Liverpool (h) 09.20.06
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 3-0 Bolton (h); 1-1 Arsenal (a); 2-2 Hull (h)
Newcastle: 1-2 Wigan (a); 2-1 Spurs (h); 3-0 Pompey (a)
Liverpool: Gerrard 6; Keane, Kuyt, Torres 5; Alonso, Riera 2; Arbeloa, Babel, Benayoun, Carragher 1
Newcastle: Owen 7; Martins 6; Ameobi 3; Duff, Guthrie 2; Barton, N’Zogbia, Taylor, Xisco 1
Referee: Excellent question. Neither the Beeb, nor Premierleague.com, nor anywhere else I can find lists who the ref is.
Guess at a squad:
Darby Carragher Agger Insua
Kuyt Gerrard Riera
There have to be some changes, with Liverpool playing two matches in less than 48 hours, but I’m hopeful there won’t be many. Picking the line-up's even more of a crapshoot than usual because we rarely get to see how the players respond to one day off between matches, and the fitness levels will go a long way in determining who starts.
Once again, despite the number of times I’ve been wrong, I’m guessing the 4-2-3-1. On the road, and with Mascherano certainly coming back into the side after missing out yesterday, seems to set Liverpool up for it. That and while Torres looks close to a return, he won’t start his first game back, and I doubt N’Gog will partner Keane from the off.
Both Riera and Kuyt were substituted early yesterday, so I’m assuming they’ll be fit to start on the flanks. Benayoun played the full 90 Friday, while Babel’s seemingly found himself out of favor. Even if he doesn’t start here, Babel should feature as a substitute – and if he doesn’t, then I guess we can start reading something into it.
Arbeloa’s still out with his hamstring problem, but Hyypia’s not likely to play two games in a row at his age. Which ideally means that Darby will get his first start at right back, as Carra should move back in the center to partner Agger. Insua’s played well enough to keep his place on the left, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that Benitez might use the full squad, and get Dossena back on the pitch.
As per usual, Newcastle’s struggling on the injury front. Habib Beye, Jose Enrique, Mark Viduka, Joey Barton, Alan Smith, Nacho Gonzalez, Obafemi Martins and Shola Ameobi will miss the game, as will defender Sebastien Bassong for a straight red yesterday. But Michael Owen’s still with the Geordies (Danny Guthrie too), and I’m always afraid of former Reds lining up against their former club. Mickey’s found a decent spell of form too, with three goals this month as Newcastle’s only lost once in their last five.
We’ve finally seen a comprehensive Liverpool performance in the 3-0 win over Bolton. Halfway through the league campaign and Liverpool’s top of the league by a point. Yesterday’s match can provide the springboard the team needs to push on for the second half of the season, but Liverpool will have to continue playing to that potential.