Liverpool come into today’s match on the crest of a very big wave.
They have had 13 Premier League wins in a row, 43 PL matches with only one defeat (Man City away), the past three months seeing them win the Champions League and Super Cup.
Up against a Newcastle team who have generally struggled so far and appear to lack creativity and enough goal threat.
The bookies make this a walkover with the visitors 20/1 or more to win.
What could possibly go wrong (for the scousers)?
Well Richard Dunne sees potential weaknesses that Newcastle could exploit.
He sees three main issues for Liverpool.
No real quality number 10 who can unlock a defence, not enough quality players to deal with so many matches, with a lack of strength in depth especially in the attacking positions.
I think if this was claimed by a Newcastle fan then I think you would be seen as grasping at very thin straws. Which is maybe the case here, Richard Dunne played for both Everton and Man City so maybe very much a case of wishful thinking.
No game is a foregone conclusion but difficult to see how the factors Dunne points out will have much relevance today, as he declares ‘…don’t assume they have Newcastle beaten before they have played.’
Only a month into the season and no congested fixture schedule so far for Liverpool, plus they even had star men Salah and Mane without any international football this past fortnight.
Plus last season when fixtures became so congested, Liverpool won 14 of their final 15 games (all competitions) and the only one they lost was at Barcelona, the scousers though then coming out and beating Barca 4-0 in the return!
Missing a real quality number 10 who can pick out a pass? Well they have so many attacking threats and when playing with that forward three, any of them can drop deep and get the ball. Plus they have the excellent Shaqiri to bring on who can certainly pick out a pass.
An over-reliance on that front trio and not enough quality as back-up? Very difficult to have somebody on the bench who is close to that front three’s quality.
Plus there are three of them, not just relying on one striker to score all the goals. The Liverpool trio scored 69 goals last season but then another five scored 29 between them. The likes of Origi (7 goals), Shaqiri (6), Wijnaladum (5) and then from corners Van Dijk (6).
For Newcastle United to get anything today, it will simply rely on a brilliant defensive performance and finding a few opportunities and a goal or two from somewhere. Relying on any weaknesses from Liverpool is wishful thinking.
Richard Dunne speaking to the Irish Independent:
‘I have had concerns since the start of the season about the strength of Liverpool’s squad and now, as the players go back after the international break and head into the Champions League qualifiers, they will come under the spotlight.
I wondered if they had enough quality players to cover all eventualities, as the season starts to get tough for all of the teams who are in Europe. It’s a difficult period, it’s non-stop travel, non-stop games with no real break.
Liverpool just don’t have strength in depth, especially in the attacking areas. Beyond their top trio of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino they don’t have much quality back-up.
When I watch Manchester City play, they don’t seem to be stretched by the teams they play, they win games at a canter.
With Liverpool it’s always 100 per cent – it’s amazing to watch but it takes its toll, it requires a strong and healthy squad to cope with that workload.
Liverpool would be expected to beat Newcastle tomorrow but Tottenham thought that when they played them a few weeks ago and were caught out.
That happens in the Premier League, if you start thinking they are handy games, you get caught out – Liverpool can’t afford to think that way this weekend.
When Liverpool hit the levels the manager demands of them, they are unstoppable. However if the work rate drops, it becomes more difficult for them as they don’t have that one midfielder who can pick out the key pass to win a game.
Their midfielders run, they press and win the ball high up. I have heard it said that Liverpool don’t need a No 10 as they win the ball so high up the field, but they can’t afford to take the foot off the gas.
So don’t assume they have Newcastle beaten before they have played.’
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