Newcastle United vs Liverpool – Three key battles

Newcastle United entertain Liverpool at St James’ Park on Sunday in what is the biggest Premier League game of the weekend.

Newcastle United vs Liverpool

The Toon Army finished in the top four at the Reds’ expense in 2022-23 and will be aiming to build on that this season. They smashed Aston Villa 5-1 in their season opener before losing 1-0 to champions Manchester City last weekend.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have picked up four points from their opening two games—a 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge followed up by a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth at home. Both teams are coming into this fixture off the back of contrasting results and a close encounter at St James’ Park is anticipated.

On that note, here are the three key battles to watch out for on Sunday.

#Luis Diaz vs Kieran Trippier

Luis Diaz has started the 2023/24 campaign very well, scoring two goals in as many games for the Reds. The Colombian winger’s confidence will be high at the moment and he will be keen to inflict pain on Newcastle United.

Monitoring Diaz’s movements in attack is an uphill task, as his pace and body control are remarkable. Newcastle right-back Kieran Trippier will have to be defensively alert if he intends to keep the Liverpool winger under wraps.

The England international may not be as quick and agile as Diaz, but his volumes of experience in dealing with unpredictable wide players and defensive nous will be invaluable to keep the Colombian quiet. However, if Diaz and Andy Robertson link up well and Liverpool create overloads on the left, Trippier might struggle.

#Alexander Isak vs Virgil van Dijk

The battle between Alexander Isak and Virgil van Dijk will be a great spectacle. Isak has enjoyed a fine start to the new season, bagging a brace in Newcastle’s 5-1 destruction of Aston Villa. He had to feed on scraps against City and failed to score last weekend, but that is not supposed to be the case when Liverpool visit St James’ Park.

Van Dijk has been at the heart of Liverpool defence for five years now and he would have not liked his overall performance against Bournemouth last weekend. The Dutchman’s performance levels have dipped in the past 12-15 months which was one of the reasons why Liverpool struggled defensively last season.

However, Van Dijk would again need to lead the troops at the back. Tracking Isak’s movements in and around the box is very difficult, as he is very quick and unpredictable with the ball at his feet. The Swede will be Newcastle’s primary target in attack, which implies that Van Dijk will have his task cut out on Sunday.

#Alexis Mac Allister vs Bruno Guimaraes

Liverpool have been boosted by the news that Alexis Mac Allister’s straight red card for a tackle on Bournemouth’s Ryan Christie last weekend has been rescinded following an appeal to the FA. This means he is now eligible to take the field against Newcastle.

Jurgen Klopp may look to solidify his midfield by handing new signing Wataru Endo his full debut on Sunday, which will allow Mac Allister to play a bit higher up the pitch and influence Liverpool’s play in the final third. If the Argentinean World Cup winner is able to run the midfield show like he can, the Reds would be in a great position to bag all three points.

Bruno Guimaraes is one of the first names on Eddie Howe’s team sheet, and the duty of denying space and time to Mac Allister to link up with the front line would rest on his shoulders. If the 25-year-old is able to stop Mac Allister from linking up with Dominik Szoboszlai, Cody Gakpo and Luis Diaz, he would have effectively stopped all the supply for the Liverpool attack.

It will be fascinating to watch who comes out on top in this South American midfield battle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *