I suppose you could say I’ve been busy enjoying one of the best starts to a Liverpool season in years and you can’t exactly blame me for that, can you?
This weekend sees Brendan Rodgers take his side to Tyneside where they will be looking to bolster their Champions League hopes and nothing short of a victory will be expected from the Kop.
As for Newcastle, the club is looking to improve on their form that has seen them take 10 points from their 7 matches. They’ve certainly had some interesting times up there.
All in all though, it is quite stable. No, not on the pitch – where things haven’t gone exactly to plan so far, or in the Boardroom where some strange things happen, and definitely not with Joe Kinnear. No, I’m talking about the stability of that 8-year contract for Alan Pardew.
Now I could preview the matchup for this weekend and tell you what to expect. I could tell you that Newcastle striker Loic Remy is on an absolutely breathtaking goalscoring streak.I could tell you Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are a formidable strike partnership. But, thats just not my style.
I don’t like to talk about the things that everyone talks about. So here we go, here are two players on each side that will make or break this game for their respective teams.
First up is a player who Pardew claimed can keep you frustrated for hours, and then perform a majestic magic trick that drops your jaw, the talented, yet injury plagued, Hatem Ben Arfa. The supremely talented French winger is a definite threat to the Liverpool side.
What is expected from Ben Arfa? He will run at a defender, throw every trick he can with his fascinatingly wonderful footwork, and when the defender’s innocent eyes get sucked in, he moves one way and releases a blistering shot that refuses to be denied a goal. Ben Arfa will be a major threat on Saturday.
To counter, I believe Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho will be relied upon to stop the threat of Ben Arfa. £15 million man Sakho joined Liverpool from PSG this summer and has started his career in England nicely. The awkwardly large individual completed 96% of his passes against Sunderland and played a commanding 67 minutes against Crystal Palace.
While he is strong defender and powerful in the air, he can be a bit erratic at times and also has a tendency to over-play. He will have to be at his best to contain a man at the top of his game.
No real orchestra is complete without a maestro, and Newcastle’s maestro is Yohan Cabaye. The talented Frenchman has not featured much in Pardew’s side due to some unforeseen circumstances – needless to say, I’m sure Suarez can relate to him, however, he is unquestionably one of the most talented players for Newcastle.
This man can thread a lovely pass or finish a move off himself – if you need to make something happen in the final third of the field, Cabaye is a great resource to have. The French helped engineer Newcastle’s last match, which they won, hitting the woodwork in the process.
The match before that, Everton were 3-0 up in the first half against Newcastle before Cabaye entered the fray in the 51st minute, helping his teammates almost pull off the comeback by bringing the game to 3-2.
Not to mention, he scored a peach of a goal. Cabaye is the type of player who can grab a contest by the scruff of the neck from the middle of the field. If Cabaye is at his best, it will be difficult for Liverpool to snatch 3 points away from Newcastle.
Finally, no gang is complete without a little bit of steel. Enter, Liverpool’s Lucas.
Returning from a one game suspension for five ‘steel-like’ misdemeanours he will be back to his old ways. His job will be simple. Tough, rugged defending, breaking up the opposing play and making simple passes.
The reason I believe Lucas will be instrumental in whether Liverpool win, is the fact that Moussa Sissoko and Yohan Cabaye will be catalysts for Newcastle’s offence. If Lucas is able to disrupt their plans, he’ll help move the ball to a couple of blokes who score all the goals up top (I’m sure you remember their names).
Lucas will be an integral part of the midfield, and while his job isn’t the most clinical, it is very important.
There you have it, the four guys that will determine if their teams win the game.
If Newcastle’s midfielders, such as Cabaye, are able to boss the midfield and pass it off to players such as Ben Arfa and Remy, they will create problems and help starve the two Liverpool forwards of possession.
However, if Sakho can dominate Remy, and Lucas can disrupt all the Newcastle midfielders’ plans, Liverpool will prevail.
Let the games begin then.
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