Two weeks is a long time in football. If you don’t believe it, you should have a chat with Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew. The Geordies looked dead and buried at the start of October. Deep into the relegation zone, they were winless in 6 and looked to be in store for a very long season indeed. The fans had turned on Pardew and banners asking for his removal were being branded in every game.
Now, as we enter November, Newcastle are in the process of an incredible turnaround. As if two consecutive wins in the Premier League wasn’t amazing enough, Pardew’s men pulled off a shock upset in midweek, winning 2-0 away at champions Manchester City. This came after a fantastic come-from-behind victory at White Hart Lane last week in the league. This run of form has seen Newcastle lift themselves up to 14th in the table, and another victory this weekend will open up a sizeable gap between themselves and the relegation zone.
Their task though, is not going to be a straightforward one, as Liverpool come calling at St. James’ Park in the early kickoff on Saturday. The Reds have been consistently inconsistent thus far this season, and no one really knows what to expect from them. The spark that Luis Suarez brought to the team is now gone, and replacement Mario Balotelli has failed to convince anyone thus far. The Italian though, did have his best game in a Liverpool shirt in midweek against Swansea in the Capital One Cup. Several individuals, including manager Brendan Rodgers and captain Steven Gerrard have come out in the last couple of days to say that they expect Balotelli to shine, and it is now upto the striker to deliver.
Newcastle vs Liverpool has produced more goals than any other fixture in Premier League history. Along with the memorable 4-3 wins for the Reds at Anfield in the 90’s, the Reds have also managed some big victories at St. James’ Park, winning by scorelines of 5-0 and 6-0 in recent seasons.
This time though, the game is sure to be extremely competitive. Liverpool will need to find a regular source of goals as Daniel Sturridge continues to be absent, while Newcastle will know that another victory on Saturday will mean that the early-season blues will be all but forgotten.