Magpies in Anfield cauldron


Magpies skipper Trippier’s form has dipped and so too has Newcastle’s standing in the league. — AP

NEWCASTLE United appear to be in freefall, and as things stand ahead of their clash with Liverpool on Monday, they could face a thumping of sorts should they perform like they have over the past couple of months or so.

Not since that win over Arsenal at the beginning of last month have the Magpies looked anywhere near as solid as they were last season, when they finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League for the first time in two decades.

Eddie Howe, the manager credited with their revival under the new Saudi ownership, is showing signs of bewilderment with a squad that has been decimated by injuries. They have seven players out injured, and Sandro Tonali is suspended.

Those still fit enough to play look fatigued, adding to the Englishman’s woes.

For a side that conceded three goals or more in three of their last four defeats, Howe has his work cut for him against a Liverpool outfit that has played consistently well this term and will be expected to win again at home.

Liverpool have not been at their sharpest, but they have dug their heels in when they needed to thus far – something that has taken them to the top of the standings.

This might not afford Newcastle any comfort, but Howe knows that if they can get a decent result at Anfield, it might yet be the catalyst for turning their season around.

Skipper Kirean Trippier has been the heartbeat of the Tyneside club since he arrived from Atletico Madrid, and they have emerged as a top-four Premiership side. And if he can rally the troops, they could yet leave Merseyside with something to be proud of.

Trippier himself, though, has looked the most tired of Newcastle’s weary squad. It’s as if their form has dipped, just as his did.

But the truth of the matter is that Newcastle have looked worn out in all areas of the pitch, and if they don’t find their bearings in a hurry at Anfield, one fears the red avalanche could overrun the Magpies.

The talk of Liverpool’s frontline misfiring is a myth. These strikers are as deadly as they come in this game. They may not have scored as many as some people think they should, yet they have delivered when it matters.

Liverpool currently lead the Premier League standings by two points, finished top of their group to reach the last 16 of the Europa League, and are through to next month’s Carabao League Cup semifinals.

Just to put things in perspective here, Manchester United are seventh on the log standings, knocked out of Europe having finished last in their Champions League group and have been unceremoniously eliminated from the Carabao Cup.

Much of Monday’s fixture points to a Liverpool victory, yet their German manager Jurgen Klopp will hasten to remind his players of all the hype surrounding their encounter with Arsenal that ended in a draw.

Their stalemate with Manchester United the week before was hardly similar and cannot be spoken of in the same breath, only because the Old Trafford side played for a drab draw from the get-go.

One feels that a similar approach by Newcastle could see Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez, who was among the scorers in their midweek win over Burnley, help themselves to a few goals of their own.

More than anything else, as they bid for a second league title in four seasons, Liverpool will want to win to keep the pressure on Arsenal, Aston Villa and champions Man City, who are five points adrift but with a game in hand.

Everton’s visit to Wolverhampton Wanderers today could also be a feisty coming together.

Wolves won back-to-back for the first time this season when they saw off Brentford 4-1 in midweek and have now won three and drawn one of the last five league games – a run that lifted them to 11th in the standings and on the same number of points as Chelsea in 10th place.

For their part, Sean Dyche’s Everton will want to bounce back from a couple of defeats that they may feel hard-done by.

Last weekend, they crashed to Tottenham and were then upended by Man City in midweek after taking the lead.

The Toffees won four on the trot before those defeats and will feel they have every chance of making off with the three points from the Molineux Stadium. And they could.

No doubt, Wolves will feel the same, which could lead us to a score draw.

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