This Saturday’s big fixture sees Liverpool travel up to Newcastle to take on Rafa Benitez’s men, where the Reds absolutely have to win in order to keep their Premier League title hopes alive – if they lose and Manchester City beat Leicester, the Citizens will have successfully defended their trophy.
The Magpies managed to secure their Premier League status for yet another campaign recently, so they won’t be playing for anything other than league position and pride – it will be a difficult game for Benitez personally, as he surely won’t want to be the man responsible for his former side slipping up in the title race.
However, all eyes will be on Jurgen Klopp’s men as they attempt to keep the pressure on City.
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With so much on the line in this fixture, Football FanCast takes a look at the factors that could determine where the three points end up…
This match-up should be an enticing one.
Ritchie has been playing as a left wing-back for a while now at St James’ Park, and he has fulfilled the role admirably. However, a player of world-class ability such as Salah will certainly be looking to exploit the natural weaknesses that come with a midfielder playing as a defender.
The Egyptian has four goals in his last four league games, and whether or not the Scotsman can keep him quiet on Saturday may determine the outcome of this fixture.
After having to leave the field with a groin injury against Barcelona, it has now been revealed that Naby Keita will miss the next two months.
Just as the Guinean was starting to hit his stride – he has three goals in his last six games – the cruel timing of his injury will rule him out of the business end to the season and will also see Liverpool lose the biggest contributor to their midfield intensity.
The likes of Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and Fabinho arguably don’t take the game to the opposition enough, not like Keita does with his close dribbling and directness.
How Klopp replicates the former RB Leipzig’s impact will influence where the three points end up on Saturday; time for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, perhaps?
It is almost inevitable that Newcastle, with their five-at-the-back system, will see a lot less of the ball than Liverpool will, and will also undoubtedly come under heaps of pressure throughout the game.
As a result, the impressive Salomon Rondon will have to bring his A-game in terms of hold-up play and aerial ability. The Magpies will be desperate for the Venezuelan to make the ball stick, which will then allow their attacking players to push up and support him.
However, if Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip can pocket the on-loan forward and get to the ball ahead of him, the pressure may become too much for Newcastle to resist over the course of the 90 minutes.
Both men started their respective club’s last fixture on the bench, although the pair can certainly make an impact when given the chance to get out onto the pitch.
Kenedy showed last season that he has the X-factor to throw the Liverpool back four a curve-ball, should he come off the bench and cause problems with his skill and ability in one-on-one situations, although he’s really struggled during 2018/19.
Origi, likewise to Kenedy, is also a direct dribbler who can take advantage of tiring opposition legs from the bench – his physicality, pace and desire to follow in make him a dangerous player in the box.