This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
After a disappointing start saw them lose both of their opening Premier League fixtures against Arsenal and Norwich respectively, Newcastle have responded well in their past two top-flight games.
A shock away win at Champions League finalists Tottenham set the ball rolling, before a hard-fought point against Watford saw them head into the international break in positive spirits. However, Steve Bruce’s side face the mountainous task of returning to Premier League action against an all-conquering Liverpool side, who have simply brushed past everyone this season.
And with the Magpies appearing to have injury problems, this may not be the ideal time to face the Reds at Anfield. But, having done the improbable against Spurs, Bruce will hope his team can pull off another miracle. Below is a look at how they might line-up at the weekend.
A sign of encouragement since the Norwich debacle, Newcastle’s back-five has looked more resilient with just two goals conceded in their last three games across all competitions.
Paul Dummett, Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar have nailed down the central positions, but Matt Ritchie’s horror injury against Leicester once again rules him out of action. Summer signing Jetro Willems filled in at left wing-back against Watford, and delivered his most impressive showing for the club so far, registering a team-high three tackles.
Fellow new boy Emil Krafth will be expected to deputise for DeAndre Yedlin once more.
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In midfield, Bruce delivered a hammer blow in his pre-match press conference by ruling out Sean Longstaff due to a “freak” ankle injury. Ki Sung-yueng could be pushing for a recall, but the big open spaces at Anfield and the expected intent to play on the counter-attack may see Jonjo Shelvey’s greater range of passing get him the nod in central midfield.
In the wide areas, Allan Saint-Maximin is still out with a hamstring problem, which will no doubt increase the burden on the likes of Miguel Almiron and Christian Atsu to supply the service further forward. The former’s first goal for Paraguay during the international break will have done him the world of good, and perhaps he could finally break his Newcastle goal-scoring duck.
Up front, the Magpies’ club-record signing Joelinton will be expected to lead the line once more amid Andy Carroll’s continued absence. Injuries in key areas have robbed Bruce of the kind of line-up he would have wanted to pick for Saturday’s game, but the performances against Tottenham and Watford should provide him with a bit more confidence.