Monday’s comfortable victory over Aston Villa at Anfield sent Liverpool up to eighth in the Premier League table, within four points of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, but worryingly a huge seven points adrift of Manchester City who currently occupy the final Champions League spot. Although Hodgson’s side have performed reasonably well at Anfield, they must turn things around away from their own turf if they are to finish the campaign in a higher position than last season.
But despite Chris Hughton’s surprise departure as manager of the Magpies, the side have still shown enough quality on the pitch this season to suggest they will give Liverpool a tough test. Striker Andy Carroll and midfielders Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton have impressed and will not lose all their talent just because Hughton has left. Instead, Liverpool could face an even tougher test this weekend, as many of the opposition players will be looking to impress their new manager.
Nevertheless, Liverpool have looked more of a solid unit recently, with Raul Meireles and Lucas Leiva dominating the midfield in previous games, whilst Maxi Rodriguez has been contributing with his fair share of goals this season. Steven Gerrard’s absence has also allowed Hodgson to tinker with his formation and play two strikers up front, which gives the Reds more of a threatening outlook.
If Hodgson again decides to use positive tactics against Newcastle, then the Reds may just come away with a good result. Too often this season, Liverpool have sat back, particularly on their travels, and this has not helped their cause as they have lost games. Showing more aggression going forward could turn those defeats into victories, whilst also leaving the fans satisfied with better displays.
With January edging closer, Roy Hodgson and Damien Comolli have also been plotting to swoop for some players in the transfer window. One name mentioned this week was Ashley Young. The Villa winger could cost the Reds around £15m, though his arrival would give the likes of Torres and Reina an indication that the club still has ambitions.
Another player being linked with a move to Anfield is Frenchman Rod Fanni. The 29-year-old can play both as a centre back and a right back, casting doubts over the futures of not only Glen Johnson, but also Daniel Agger. Fanni could be available for about £4m but it would be strange for Liverpool to invest in a player of that age, particularly as owners NESV have been talking about bringing younger players into the club because of their potential re-sale value.
With transfer targets being lined up and players also being linked with moves away from the club, the build-up to January could be an interesting one for Reds fans. However, the most important thing for Liverpool is to get things right on the pitch and a victory away from home against Newcastle would bring more confidence to the team.