Preview: Newcastle United vs. Liverpool

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  • Liverpool have won seven of the last 10 meetings (7-2-1)
  • Newcastle’s last 12 league goals have all been scored by Frenchman
  • Steven Gerrard is one away from recording 100 PL goals

On Saturday at St. James’ Park, two sides who’ve produced plenty of memorable Premier League moments over the years will lock horns as Newcastle host Liverpool. (7:30am ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra)

Can another PL classic prevail? We certainly hope so.

And following Liverpool’s huge victory over Newcastle last season — the Reds 6-0 win was United’s worst home defeat since 1925 — revenge is in the air for Alan Pardew’s men.

After an up and down start to the season, the Magpies are certainly looking a lot more settled this year after struggling to avoid relegation last time out. But there’s still plenty of unrest surrounding the club, with supporters set to protest against owner Mike Ashley before the game and wave white handkerchiefs to show their displeasure at the way Newcastle is being run.

source: Reuters
S.A.S. have been a mean double act in the past few games. Can they keep it going?

But on the pitch, a 2-1 win away at Cardiff last time out has elevated the Magpies to 11th and a win against Liverpool could take them into the top five. Loic Remy has five PL goals so far this season, and the Frenchman is looking cool and composed up front to wreck havoc. However, Newcastle have only recorded one win in their last 10 league games against Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers’ side are looking fired up this season.

With Luis Suarez returning to form a marvelous forward partnership with Daniel Sturridge, the Reds finally have a duo that can tear the opposition apart in a split second. And with a solid 3-5-2 system suiting the possession-based style Rodgers prefers, Liverpool are looking comfortable and expansive this campaign. Expect an exciting clash, as always, when these two meet. There hasn’t been a goalless draw since 1974 between these two teams, and don’t expect one on Saturday.

In terms of injuries, Newcastle have a few concerns with defenders Steven Taylor and Fabio Coloccini missing out through injury, while Jonas Gutierrez is out due to family issues. For Liverpool, the trio of Joe Allen, Glen Johnson and Aly Cissokho could all return and Lucas Leiva is back from a ban.

What they’re saying

Alan Pardew on Newcastle’s demoralizing 6-0 defeat to Liverpool last season: “Psychologically it’s a completely different place to where we were. We’re in a much better place now and we’ll give a better account of ourselves. It was probably my heaviest defeat as a manager. It’s a game you don’t ever want to experience but it happens sometimes in a season. You have to make sure it doesn’t happen again and try to build yourself up.”

Daniel Sturridge on his partnership with Luis Suarez: “It’s a beautiful thing to have the relationship on the field with him. We have a good understanding, have assisted each other on different occasions and it’s a great feeling. We help each other and improve each other and we also get along off the field. At the end of the day, it’s just important that we’re doing the business for the team. And we wouldn’t be able to do it if it wasn’t for everyone behind us. Victor [Moses], Jordan [Henderson] and Coutinho when he returns and everyone behind them have been fantastic.”

Prediction

After several 4-3 thrillers across the years and plenty of classic PL encounters, here’s hoping we see another at St. James’ Park on Saturday. With Liverpool looking very solid at the back and relying on Sturridge and Suarez to score the goals, this may be less of an open affair, however you never know with this fixture. Remy and Sturridge are the PL’s top two scorers, so if they’re on fire all hell will break loose. I’m going for another entertaining Liverpool win, but Newcastle will push them all the way. The Reds’ front two will be the difference, once again.

West Ham targeting Wilshere transfer in January

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David Moyes has stated his desire to sign Jack Wilshere during the January transfer window, as West Ham United battle relegation and attempt to secure their Premier League status for next season.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

Wilshere, who’s made just five PL appearance (all as a substitute) this season for Arsenal, after spending last season on loan at Bournemouth (27 appearances, including 22 starts), will be out of contract with the Gunners in the summer and it’s looking less and less likely that the 25-year-old has a long-term future at the club. Thus, he would almost certainly be allowed to leave and recoup something — anything — next month.

As such, Moyes, whose West Ham side currently sits 19th in the league table after a disastrous start to the season which ultimately saw Slaven Bilic fired, sees an opportunity to bring in an international-caliber player, on the cheap, at exactly the right time — quotes from the Guardian:

“You’d hope that if you took a player from another Premier League club it’d be much easier for him to go right into the team and play well. Jack Wilshere would be someone who we’d have to look at if he was available.

“I do believe the transfer window could be the difference between relegation and staying up. If we can get the right players, that’s the big part of it.

“I also want to make sure we’re looking at players who’ve got time and who can be at the club for a long period and not just in for a short period. Then there’s also the short-term fix for me which is, how do we get enough wins between now and the end of the season? There’s a balance between that.”

Wilshere’s (waning) chances of making the England team for next summer’s World Cup undoubtedly hinge upon him playing a majority of minutes during the second half of the season and finding a patch of remarkably good form. Suffice to say, he’d likely to be quite interested in a move — especially one that would keep him in London.

Dyche: “Football is about dreams,” and this is Burnley’s

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Burnley challenging for, and ultimately finishing in, a top-four place in the Premier League would be the most unexpected outcome in England’s top flight since… well, Leicester City won the title 18 months ago.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

While the Foxes might have desensitized us with regards to what constitutes a feel-good story, one cannot simply ignore the astonishing, unexpected nature of the Clarets currently occupying fourth place in the PL table, just shy of the season’s halfway mark.

Sure, all three of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have a game in hand (all to be played on Wednesday) and would overtake Sean Dyche‘s side with a win, but even then “seventh-place Burnley” is a phrase that is only slightly less remarkable.

Following his side’s 1-0 victory over Stoke City on Tuesday, Dyche something like a romantic, referring to Burnley’s run as a “dream” given those lofty levels of overachievement — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s a run of results and a start which the fans are enjoying and rightly so.

“Football is about realities but also about dreams. It’s a tough task for us winning games at this level, but Leicester blew the roof off dreams in football.”

“We found a way to win and a fine goal. We’re not the real deal, we’re a side that are improving.

“I keep reality because this division will eat you alive. We’re having a real go at what we can achieve this season.”

Report: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million

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The Geordie dream appears one giant step closer to reality after Amanda Staveley has reportedly made a significantly larger bid in her attempt to purchase Newcastle United from long-embattled owner Mike Ashley.

[ TIMELINE: Ashley puts club up for sale | Staveley’s first bid rejected ]

According to multiple reports out of the UK — the Telegraph offers the most information at this time — Staveley has increased her initial offer from $335 million to today’s $400-million figure which is expected to be enough to convince Ashley to accept and bring to an end his decade-long, rocky relationship with the Toon Army.

Ashley purchased the club for $177 million back in 2007 and has reportedly invested somewhere in the neighborhood of another $177 million, in the form of interest-free loans, during his stewardship. He stands to make a sizable profit in light of today’s reports, though his original asking price of $534 million is nowhere close to being met.

[ STREAM: Newcastle host Everton — Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET ]

The biggest question which remains — now that will he or won’t he sell? appears to have been answered — is how quickly the deal can be completed, thus allowing Staveley to back manager Rafa Benitez during the January transfer window. Once the two sides enter into deeper takeover talks and the process of transferring ownership from one to the other begins, a transfer embargo will be activated.

Benitez and Ashley traded verbal jabs over the club’s transfer dealings — or, lack thereof — in the summer, and the Spaniard has again this week insisted significant investment is needed in January, otherwise the Magpies could very well be relegated, once again. After a strong start to the season, Newcastle are winless in their last seven Premier League games (six losses) and have tumbled to 16th in the league table, now just two points clear of the relegation zone.

Klopp explains rotation vs. Everton, Salah’s injury scare

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Jurgen Klopp took a fair bit of criticism over his decision to rotate four members of his first-choice starting lineup for Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Everton, and the Liverpool manager might not be done rotating just yet — only this time, his hand could be force by an injury scare.

[ MORE: Klopp says post-game interview not a big deal ]

Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum were all dropped to the bench, on the advice of the club’s medical team, at the end of a 21-day stretch which saw the Reds play seven times. Klopp came under further scrutiny for his decision to substitute Mohamed Salah, Liverpool’s undisputed player of the season thus far, with Liverpool leading 1-0 in the 67th minute.

Now, Klopp has revealed, that Salah was forced off due to fear of a potential hamstring injury, though the Egyptian is expected to be available to start when West Bromwich Albion visit Anfield on Wednesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold) — quotes from the Guardian:

“I have 500,000 pieces of information and I have to make a decision; I cannot write a book before each game. I do not want to say [it was a risk to play Coutinho and Firmino] as that would sound like an excuse and I don’t need an excuse.

“I find it funny that we talk after this game about that but we did not speak about it after the 5-1 or 3-0, why they did not play [the wins at Brighton and Stoke when Salah, Coutinho and Sadio Mane did not all start]. This is one game we should have won they did not play. We play it 10 times and we win. We had a bit of information but, come on, it would sound like an excuse to me.

“I took Mo Salah off because he felt the hamstring a little bit. Then everyone said, ‘How can you take him off?’ I do not go out and say: ‘Because he is close to being injured.’ He is not injured at the moment, thank God. Hopefully we took him off early enough. We have to do it. Seven games in 21 days before Everton and now six games in 18 days. It is exactly the same. We need the best quality we can have before each game. We cannot ignore the number of games.”

The only thing Klopp could have done to draw even more criticism would have been to ignore the advice of the doctors prior to the game, then leave Salah on the field for all 90 minutes — win, lose or draw in the end. Once the above information had inevitably leaked out in said scenario, words like “irresponsible” and “negligent” would have been lobbed his way with reckless abandon.

It’s almost as if managers have more information available to them than the average, angry fan.