The Big Match Tactical View: Newcastle v Liverpool

Steve McClaren is fighting for his job
Steve McClaren is fighting for his job
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Sunday's only Premier League game is a huge test for beleaguered Newcastle boss Steve McClaren - an in-form Liverpool side. Michael Cox looks at the tactics, while Alan Thompson discusses the betting...

"If Newcastle aren’t 100% up for this, Liverpool could run riot."

Newcastle v Liverpool
Sunday, 16:00
Live on Sky Sports 1

Match Odds: Newcastle 6.05/1, Liverpool 1.645/8, The Draw 4.47/2.

Traditionally, this fixture features plenty of goals - and if the trend is to continue, it's highly likely Liverpool will score the majority here.

Newcastle have performed woefully over the past couple of matches, being thrashed 3-0 by Leicester and then 5-1 at Crystal Palace. The last team they want to face this weekend is Liverpool, who are fresh from a 6-1 win at Southampton in the Capital One Cup.

This Liverpool side have evolved from their early, energetic but but frustrating displays under Jurgen Klopp, and have now added incision, penetration and goals to their game. If Newcastle aren't 100% up for this, Liverpool could run riot.

Steve McClaren is being severely constrained by injuries - Newcastle currently have no fewer than 10 players unavailable - and therefore while he'd surely prefer to make wholesale changes from the team that was thrashed at Selhurst Park, he really doesn't have very many options.

Last weekend's bench featured talents like Florian Thauvin, Alexander Mitrovic and Siem de Jong. But are these really the type of players you want to introduce when the side is struggling, and when they'll be pressed relentlessly by an energetic opposition from the first whistle? McClaren will probably make fewer changes than anticipated.

On paper, the fact Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum play narrower than you expect from conventional wingers will help pack the midfield, helping Vurnon Anita and Jack Colback against a compact Liverpool side.

In reality, it remains to be seen whether Newcastle have the energy and motivation to fight sufficiently against an extremely well-drilled, disciplined Liverpool side. It's easy to imagine Liverpool repeating causing turnovers high up the pitch, before attacking a very poor Newcastle backline.

Emre Can, James Milner and Adam Lallana look set to form Klopp's three-man midfield, but predicting the forward line is trickier after the 6-1 win over Southampton with a heavily rotated side.

Daniel Sturridge will expect to start after impressing - and he has a fine record against Newcastle - with Coutinho, if fit, and Roberto Firmino probably in line to play either side of him.

Christian Benteke and Divock Origi will also be itching for a start, but moving Sturridge slightly to become the main centre-forward probably makes sense - Liverpool need to hit this Newcastle defence with pace.

Newcastle will attempt to counter-attack through Wijnaldum, Sissoko and possibly Ayoze Perez, who can be effective against a high line, while Daryl Janmaat has pushed forward effectively from right-back, which could be important considering Liverpool have sometimes left opposition full-backs free when using this narrow 4-3-2-1 system.

McClaren will probably ask for balls in behind the defence, so Perez or Mitrovic might be a better main striker than Cisse, who led the line at Selhurst Park last weekend.

Ultimately, though, it's difficult to make a case for Newcastle getting anything out of this game. Liverpool should have the upper hand in every respect - technically, physically, tactically and psychologically.

A particularly severe defeat for Newcastle, and McClaren might find himself out of a job.

The Betfair Traders View - Alan Thompson

Newcastle United have been in desperate form at home, conceding for fun and only managing to pick up six points from the 21 available this season so far. Looking further back, they have collected only 15 points from 51 available at St James’ Park in 2015.

Since Jurgen Klopp took over, Liverpool have been a superb away outfit, drawing at Spurs and winning at Chelsea, Rubin Kazan, Man City and Southampton this week, scoring 14 goals in the process and conceding only three. These two teams are about as far away from each other on current form as you can get.

One glimmer of hope for the Magpies is their decent performances against some of the elite sides, drawing 2-2 at home against Chelsea and 0-0 away at Man Utd and keeping Arsenal to a single goal win (0-1) at St James’ Park, when they had to play the majority of the game with 10 men.

Trouble with that theory is that those games were before the humiliating 6-1 defeat at the Etihad, which was closely followed by the embarrassing 3-0 defeat at local rivals Sunderland. With Newcastle's confidence at an all-time low and just two goals in their last five starts, I just can’t see the hosts getting close to this rampant Liverpool side.

While I think Liverpool will win the game comfortably the 1.635/8 available in the match odds market is plenty short enough. I much prefer taking a chance on Liverpool -1 in the Asian Handicap market where I wouldn’t take any less than 2.111/10.

An interesting appointment is the referee for this game Andre Marriner. He was in charge when Newcastle lost to Arsenal earlier in the season, where he booked six Newcastle players and sent off Aleksander Mitrovic. I will be looking to get on Newcastle in the Bookings Match Bet market @ 2.265/4.

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