Liverpool host Newcastle this Saturday in a game that could potentially not go ahead with light snowfall expected Friday night and Saturday. While the pitch won’t be an issue given the under-soil heating and improved drainage, the area around the stadium however could be deemed treacherous should snow fall harder than expected and this could see the fixture re-scheduled.
Should the game go ahead as expected, Liverpool will be looking to exercise revenge given the 1-1 draw at St James’ Park earlier in the season. Here are three talking points ahead of this weekend’s match:
1. Klopp Has an Almost Fully Fit Squad to Choose From
For the first time this season, Klopp practically has a fully fit squad to chose from – bar four names who remain doubtful but could potentially still feature. James Milner picked up a “little knock” in Liverpool’s last match against West Ham and Nathaniel Clyne played a full 90 minutes in the U23 last week so both will likely be rested before being brought into contention against Porto in mid-week.
Klopp was straight to the point as to why Gini Wijnaldum and Ben Woodburn could miss the game this weekend, in his Friday press conference he said: “Danny Ings came back [from illness], he didn’t have the same as [Wijnaldum and Woodburn]. The other two boys had diarrhoea!” You really didn’t have to tell us Jurgen did you?
2. Shelvey Blow for Newcastle
Former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has been ruled out of a return to Anfield due to his knee injury. Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has revealed that Shelvey will be assessed in the coming weeks to see the extent of his problem and has confirmed that he will miss the Liverpool match:
“Jonjo [Shelvey] has a knock to his knee and he will not be available.” said Benitez, “We are waiting on the results of the scans. We don’t know how serious it is. He wants to train and play but we have to check.” The midfielder will be gutted to miss the match against his former club but it will also be a huge blow for Newcastle’s selection problems as Shelvey has been in good form as of recent – Mikel Merino will likely be drafted in his place.
3. Lovren or Matip?
We thought that Dejan Lovren had cemented his place alongside Virgil Van Dijk as Klopp’s preferred centre-back pairing but Joel Matip started against West Ham last weekend. Matip looked comfortable alongside Van Dijk and put in an impressive performance but eventually Klopp will have to make the decision on his second best centre-back. Matip will probably retain his place this Saturday as Liverpool look to execute a higher line and play out from the back.
This question may not even be answered this weekend, with Liverpool having to contest with three games in the next seven days – including the second leg against Porto and a trip to Old Trafford following that Champions League fixture. Klopp will likely rest players against Porto, with Liverpool pretty much qualified given their 5-0 away lead – which should let us find out who is really third choice.