Liverpool predicted team v Newcastle United

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After a 2-1 mid-week victory over Swansea City in the League Cup, Liverpool now make a trip to the North-East to meet Alan Pardew's Newcastle United.

Despite a poor start to the season from both sides, the two are now beginning to find better form.

Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw against Hull City last weekend, but were on top for long periods of the game and should have come away from the fixture with the three points.

The Reds then put in another good performance against the Swans, dominating the game throughout and playing positive football. Two late goals from Mario Balotelli and Dejan Lovren sent Liverpool through to the quarter final of the Capital One Cup for the first time since manager Brendan Rodgers took over on Merseyside.

Newcastle, have also been better in recent times and are currently unbeaten in four matches. Magpies boss Alan Pardew and his players have very much responded to the heavy criticism they received in September and early October and last Sunday they defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at White Hart Lane, despite being 1-0 down.

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They then put in another superb effort to knock out current Capital One Cup holders Manchester City, beating them 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

Saturday's early kick-off is a massive fixture for both teams. Just four points seperates the two as Liverpool sit seventh and Newcastle sit 14th.

Here is my prediction of how Brendan Rodgers' men will line up at St. James' Park...

Goalkeeper - Simon Mignolet

The Belgian was left out of Tuesday's fixture against Swansea City, replaced by Brad Jones. That was likely for rotation purposes, given the amount of games Mignolet has played this season.

However, it may have also been to put the former Sunderland man under pressure. Mignolet, since his move to Anfield in 2013, has very much been the number one shot-stopper. Despite making some very poor mistakes last term, and also this season, he has saw himself retain his position in the Liverpool net for the most part.

Jones lined up against the Welsh side mid-week and put in a decent performance. Although he had little to do, he was confident when collecting the ball and making saves.

Despite that, Mignolet is still Rodgers' go to goalkeeper. He is a top class shot-stopper when in best form and looked much more relaxed during the 0-0 draw against Hull last weekend - he collected the ball without any quarrels and communicated with his defence a lot better than he has previously.

That effort should be enough to regain his place.

Right-back - Javier Manquillo

The loan signing from Athletico Madrid has made a solid start on Merseyside and has started in Liverpool's last two fixtures.

Defending wise, he is rock solid. His positioning is faultless and wingers fail to skip past him, due to his big stature and excellent timing of the tackle.

Manquillo is also very good going forward. Against both Hull and Swansea, the Spaniard was constantly bombing down the right-wing, offering himself to his team-mates. The width he keeps on the right-hand side is a problem for defenders, as his run made it able for Fabio Borini to whip an unchallenged cross into the box for Mario Balotelli's goal on Tuesday.

Those two performances should be more than enough to see the Spaniard regain his place on the right-hand side of defence

Centre-back - Martin Skrtel

Sktrel was by far Liverpool's best defender last season and will likely see be recalled after being resting for the Capital One Cup fixture.

Although he has not quite found his form he showed so often last term, the game against Hull last weekend saw a Martin Skrtel we are more familiar with. He was more decisive in his decision making, better positioned and most importantly had a good understanding with Dejan Lovren.

Stability is a must in the Reds defence and the Slovakian can bring this to the table.

Centre-back - Dejan Lovren

Much like Skrtel, Lovren has not found his top form this season. He was class for Southampton last term, but has not yet justified his £20million price tag.

Nonetheless, there have been positive signs from him in the last few games. Against Hull, he showed what he is capable of, being much more confident and timing tackles much better.

Rodgers played him against Swansea in the week to try and gain the defender some confidence and again, he showed signs that he is on his way to gaining full form. However, one problem of his is that he gets caught ball watching, and we saw that when he left Marvin Emnes in the second half, who have the Swans the lead.

Lovren made up for that mistake by heading Philippe Coutinho's free-kick home for victory, and that should give him bundles of confidence.

Left-back - Alberto Moreno

Moreno has been very impressive since switching Sevilla for Liverpool and will likely start against Newcastle.

He is such a powerful defender and gives 100% every game. He tackles hard and his pace makes is difficult for wide-men to get past him.

The Spaniard is also excellent on the attack - he drives forward with or without the ball on the left-hand side and creates real problems for defenders. His goal against Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the season showed his abilities and he has continued to do this.

Moreno also has an excellent understanding with Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho and should continue to link up well with the pair.

Centre-midfield - Emre Can

Can struggled early on in his Anfield career with an ankle injury he picked up on international duty, however since regaining full fitness, he has looked a solid player.

He was thrown straight into the deep end when available by starting against QPR in the 3-2 victory. The German impressed, looking dangerous going forward and solid when defending.

However, it was his last game against Hull City that got Liverpool fans excited. Can looked a beast in the middle of the park, bossing the play and creating many-a Liverpool attack after winning the ball for his side.

Centre-midfield - Jordan Henderson

The England international took the Liverpool captaincy on Tuesday and looked like he can be a leader.

Henderson was as busy as ever, constantly snapping at the heels of Swansea attackers and spreading the play efficiently.

He's also improved an awful lot going forwards, getting into much more dangerous positions in the oppositions penalty area.

Henderson is one of the first men on Brendan Rodgers' team-sheet and against Hull, he had an excellent understanding with Can and Steven Gerrard.

Centre-midfield - Steven Gerrard

The Reds skipper earned a well deserved rest mid-week but should again lead his side at St. James' Park.

Gerrard has been playing a deeper role of late, that allows him to spread the play from deep and sweep up any attacks.

However, against West Bromwich Albion, he had a cameo playing in the number ten role and showed he still possesses the ability to get forwards. it showed to both fans and Brendan Rodgers that his class still remains and since, we've saw the 34-year-old commit himself to attacks much more successfully.

Against Hull, he had a few shots from outside the box and on one occasion, he linked very well with Rickie Lambert to drive into the Tigers' box and should have done better.

Gerrard seems a lot more confident when playing alongside Emre Can, as the German is very capable of defending when the Whiston-native commits to attacks. It's likely he'll play the furthest forward of the three Liverpool midfielders.

Left-wing - Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho, much like many of his team-mates, struggled early on in the season for form. He was giving the ball needlessly, and running into danger too often.

Nonetheless, the Brazilian has been superb of late. His cameo against QPR, when finding the net inspired Liverpool to grasp three points and he was threating in the 3-0 defeat against Real Madrid.

Against Hull last weekend, he came on and changed the game completely, waving his wand like a magician. He inspired his team-mates and caused problems for Steve Bruce's men, and gifted Mario Balotelli with a golden opportunity late on that should have been slotted home.

When Coutinho is on top form, he is unplayable. He has two of the quickest feet in football, top-notch vision, and the weight of his passing is second to none. When he is on song, the former Inter Milan man is a nightmare for any defender, and a pleasure for his team-mates.

Right-wing - Raheem Sterling

Still only 19-years-old, Sterling has been Liverpool's best player this season. In many games, the Reds have relied on the youngster for attacking options, and he has inspired victories.

His blistering pace and lightening feet menace defenders throughout games, leading to fouls in dangerous positions.

Sterling is also very versatile and I see him playing more central against Newcastle. Of course, he'll keep the width out wide when the ball is down the right-hand side, but when Coutinho picks the ball up on the left, Sterling will act like a second striker.

Striker - Mario Balotelli


That's what the Italian tweeted after he netted only his second Liverpool goal in 12 appearances against Swansea mid-week.

However, that goal should give him plenty of confidence and his performance against the Welsh side shows he has plenty of ability. Against Hull last week, Balotelli looked much more comfortable when Rickie Lambert partnered him up-front and that's why Sterling will often tuck inside to join him.

Against Hull, the 24-year-old made some very good runs to get himself into threatening positions, once in the first-half when latching himself onto Sterling's through ball and again in the second half, when he peeled off his marker to meet Philippe Coutinho's ball.

Movement is key for Liverpool and Balotelli to succeed. The success he had when doing so should see him get into space more often on Saturday.

Newcastle United
Raheem Sterling
Premier League
Mario Balotelli

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