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Liverpool: 15th place; 4 points out of 4 games
Newcastle: 9th place; 6 points out of 4 games
Last 4 meetings:
3-1 Liverpool (a) March 19 2006
2-0 Liverpool (h) December 26 2005
0-1 Newcastle (a) March 5 2005
3-1 Liverpool (h) December 19 2004
Last 3 games:
Liverpool: 0-1 Chelsea (a); 0-0 PSV Eindhoven (a); 0-3 Everton (a)
Newcastle: 2-0 West Ham (a); 1-0 Levadia Tallinn (a); 1-2 Fulham (h)
Goals Leaders (league):
Liverpool: Agger 1; Crouch 1; Fowler 1
Newcastle: Parker 2; Ameobi, Duff, Martins 1
Referee: Mark Halsey
The squad I’d like to see:
Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio
Pennant, Gerrard, Sissoko, Gonzales
Shay Given’s out, and even without Boumsong, Newcastle’s defense is questionable at best. Liverpool’s at home. I want goals, and a line-up that declares they’re out looking for them. Liverpool hasn’t scored since West Ham. The last time Liverpool played Newcastle, they scored three and it was at the beginning of the hot streak that included five against Fulham, three against Everton, and seven against the Brummies.
Newcastle is a better side this year though, Roeder’s done alright for himself. Parker, Emre, Duff and Martins are all class. Solano’s a dangerous player too, but I believe he’ll be out for another couple of weeks. But I still think they’re prone to defensive lapses, and while Martins improves the strike force, they still seem short up front. But then, Liverpool has only scored three goals in four league games and I guess I’m not one to talk.
According to various news outlets, Benitez is pondering using the same squad that lined up against Chelsea over the weekend. It’s undoubtedly one of Liverpool’s strongest line-ups, but I can’t really see it. The key to the Chelsea game was retaining possession; this game it seems the focus would be on attack-mindedness, pace, and crossing ability. Also, not only would it be the first time Rafa’s kept the same squad two games in a row, but this is a busy point in the season and players are still fatigued from the World Cup. I expect to see at least some rotation in the squad.
Due to the rotation, I can’t see both Kuyt and Bellamy starting or Crouch on the bench. Still think Kuyt looks promising, still expecting him to get that first goal any game now. Bellamy will probably come on, if needed, 15 minutes or so in the second half. I also want to see Speedy get the start and try to beat Carr up and down the wing, whipping in crosses to Crouchy and Dirk. I think Sissoko and Gerrard can handle the center by themselves, and Xabi can get a rest here, with Gerrard going forward and Sissoko shadowing Parker, and to a lesser extent, Emre. It’s weird leaving Hyypia out, even though Agger has played the last few games. But not only is Agger on a run of good form, but he offers more going forward.