Liverpool will be aiming to continue their scintillating away form when they head to the North East to take on Newcastle United, whose defence has not exactly been the most watertight in the Premier League this season.
The odds are firmly stacked against the hosts, who find themselves continuing to struggle at the wrong end of the table and are only kept off the bottom by the ineptitude of Aston Villa. Last time out they were taken apart by Crystal Palace despite taking a 10th minute lead, with a frail back four handed little protection from the midfield pairing of Vurnon Anita and the returning Jack Colback. Unlike arch rivals Sunderland before them, they did not nullify the threat of Palace’s dangerous widemen and were duly punished.
Head Coach Steve McClaren is under pressure to turn things around quickly, and certainly in attacking areas he has the resources available to do so. The problem remains the defence, which is as leaky as ever and increasingly lacking in leadership and soliditude despite the presence of long-serving captain Fabricio Coloccini. If things remain the same here, the Magpies could end up on the end of another battering, which will do little to aid dwindling confidence.
As for Liverpool, confidence is flowing readily through their veins and at present they can seemingly do no wrong on the road, where manager Jurgen Klopp’s supremely intense pressing game is at its most effective. Victory at the home of champions Chelsea was impressive, then they swept aside leaders Manchester City thanks to some spellbinding attacking football, but their demolition of Southampton in the Capital One Cup in midweek was arguably the most impressive.
After going behind within the first minute, the Reds took some time to settle down before hurtling into overdrive, with the returning Daniel Sturridge helping himself to a classy brace and Divock Origi eclipsing that with a fine morale-boosting hat-trick. That performance was all the more stunning when it is considered that Christian Benteke, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino did not even play a part, so the prospect of seeing the Reds at full flow again here is a highly enticing one.
Mike Williamson was recalled by Newcastle from his loan spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers but has since picked up an injury so will not feature here. Cheick Tiote is also sidelined.
Coutinho is a doubt for Liverpool, who are without the suspended Emre Can. Elsewhere, Jordan Henderson could make his first start of the season.
Played for both – Michael Owen: The diminutive striker had the look of a quality player from the moment he scored on his Liverpool debut in 1997. He went on to star for seven years at Anfield, scoring 118 goals in 216 appearances before moving on to Real Madrid. After a year in Spain he was signed by Newcastle in what looked a massive coup, but after sustaining a serious injury in December 2005 he was never the same again and he left in 2009.