14 mins: Liverpool are having more of the possession and it has helped calm things down after a frenetic start.
12 mins: Liverpool players are not getting a second to think when they receive the ball – a black and white shirt greets them within a second of their first touch.
10 mins: Milner whips in a corner from the right it lands on the penalty spot from where Van Dijk whacks a volley well over the bar.
8 mins: Liverpool are getting a foothold in the match after Newcastle’s early pressure. Robertson slides a pass through the defense for Mane to chase but Dubravka reads it and comes to claim.
The next Liverpool attack sees Jota collect a loose ball, he is tackled but Keita runs onto it and hits a shot across goal which is deflected wide, only for a goal kick to be awarded.
6 mins: Liverpool have a free-kick on the left after Jota is fouled. Robertson swings it in, Krafth and then Burn head the ball up rather out, but they are spared when Jota thwacks a shot over at the first time of asking.
4 mins: Newcastle have come out firing, that’s for sure. The atmosphere might even encourage me to press high. There’s an intensity to Newcastle, on and off the pitch.
Matt Dony replies to Ian Copestake (12.14): “I’m not usually one for positivity, but one of my favorite Liverpool goals in recent years came from a long ball against Newcastle (Suarez’s filthy shoulder / chest / knee / velcro control). So maybe it’s not all bad, Ian? ”
2 mins: Saint-Maximin curls in a cross from the left. The bounces around in the box before Milner comes to whack it clear to stop Joelinton taking possession.
Peep! Peep! Peep! Here we go!
Hey Jude is blaring out! Na na na na na na na …
It’s a packed house and the teams are reading themselves in the tunnel. The weather is wonderful and so is the atmosphere. This will be a testing afternoon for Liverpool.
“That Liverpool midfield three is hideous,” emails Ian Copestake. “Not a jot of creativity between them once Hendo barks at Naby to let him try the good stuff. Hoping Liverpool are switching to a long-ball style! ”
Horses for courses?
I think I just about justified posting my piece on Thiago and Keita from last week.
Still mildly amazing how Newcastle are currently ninth in the table considering how poorly they started the season. I understand money has been spent to move the squad but Howe has done well to create a cohesive unit to take them into the top half without haste.
A lovely day for football.
There’s plenty to look out for this weekend in the Premier League.
Van Dijk is just wandering around the pitch doing kick-ups. I think he must have done around 50 with the camera following him. I hope this is something he plans on repeating during the match.
We are all being deprived of Thiago from the start today, which is upsetting. I think he is currently the best player in England.
Eddie Howe speaks to BT Sport: “I don’t think there’s such a thing as a weak Liverpool side. We know it’s going to be a very difficult game. We didn’t know which team they would pick today but we’re ready for the best Liverpool.
“The main thing for us is our performance – we’ve set high standards in recent weeks and we don’t want to drop below that, if anything we enhance it.”
Dave Challinor has a mug with a photo of him embracing Jurgen Klopp sat on his desk at the training ground, which is enough of a tenuous link to allow me to post this.
James Milner starts for Liverpool against his former club. He will be in central midfield alongside Henderson and Keita. It’s a new trio for me, so it’ll be interesting to see how they combine in there. There is also a start for Joe Gomez at right-back.
Newcastle: Dubravka, Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett, Guimaraes, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, Willock, Almiron, Joelinton
Subs: Darlow, Dummett, Lascelles, Ritchie, Manquillo, Wood, Murphy, Gayle, Longstaff
Liverpool: Alisson, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Keita, Henderson, Milner, Jota, Mane, Diaz
Subs: Kelleher, Fabinho, Konate, Thiago, Salah, Jones, Tsimikas, Alexander-Arnold, Elliott
Klopp is here to stay (for a further two years).
Liverpool can’t slip up in the run-in and a trip to in-form Newcastle is a far trickier prospect than they might have expected earlier in the season. The Reds are buoyed by Jurgen Klopp’s new contract announcement and having one foot in the Champions League final after beating Villarreal in the first leg of their semi-final.
The further good news for Liverpool is that Newcastle last beat them in December 2015 when a Martin Skrtel own goal and Georgino Wijnaldum dink earned the hosts a win at St James’ Park during Steve McClaren’s tenure. Newcastle have won their past four games and could win five Premier League matches in a row for the first time since 2014. To make things a touch more daunting for Liverpool, Newcastle have won their past six home games.
Liverpool, however, have a decent record of their own, having dropped two points in the past 13 matches. Manchester City face Leeds in the late kick-off so a victory in Newcastle will send Liverpool top and put the pressure back on Pep Guardiola et al.
Here’s to a cracker!
Kick-off: 12.30pm BST