One story will undoubtedly dominate in the run up to this game which will prove handy for Roy Hodgson, who’ll welcome the distraction from his side’s terrible away record this season. He’s unlikely to escape the questions altogether but with Alan Pardew taking up more of the column inches, Hodgson can focus more on repeating the level of performance which saw his side cruise past Aston Villa at Anfield on Monday. Something which he’s struggled to do so far this season. And pretty much every other season he’s managed in the Premier League.
If positives can be found in Liverpool’s away record it comes from their last four games. Other than the disappointing showing against Stoke, they looked good for 45 minutes at White Hart Lane, handed Bolton their only home defeat of the season and picked up a point against Wigan. It’s not exactly title winning form but if Liverpool can start picking up more points away from Anfield then his hopes of making it in to one of the Champions League places come the end of the season may not be as slim as they currently appear. Especially not if some wise purchases are made in January.
The big question for this weekend’s game is just what effect the senseless sacking of Chris Hughton followed by seemingly equally senseless appointment of Alan Pardew will be on the players. If, as expected, recent events cause turmoil in the St James’ dressing room, Liverpool could continue their recent good record over Newcastle and secure just their second away win of the season at evens.
Strangely it was without Gerrard, Torres and Carragher that the reds put in one of their more impressive displays of the season, albeit against a Villa side with a similarly poor away record. Not having them in the side, particularly Gerrard and Torres, will allow other players to take a more prominent role. Mareilles has more freedom to get forward from midfield and Babel may play from the start instead of getting ten minutes at the end of games, a situation which seems more conducive to getting a good performance from him. The Dutch player finished well against Villa and is possibly a better option than Ngog to partner Torres if Hodgson opts to play two up top.