Torres back for Reds v Newcastle

Absolutely no surprise at all to find that Fernando Torres makes a swift return to the side after missing Monday’s 3-0 win against Gerard Houllier’s lacklustre Aston Villa side. Nando was on paternity leave, his wife about to give birth to their son Leo.
Today's managers: Roy Hodgson and Alan Pardew
The player who replaced him for that fixture makes way tonight, Ryan Babel dropping down to the bench. Other than that the team is unchanged. Pepe Reina is in goal and captains the side tonight, Raul Meireles and Lucas continue their impressive partnership in central midfield.

Newcastle fans staged a protest before kick-off, showing their outrage at owner Mike Ashley’s complete disregard for their feelings with his decision to sack Chris Hughton. Alan Pardew takes charge for the first time and names former Liverpool youth midfielder Danny Guthrie amongst his subs. Scouser Kevin Nolan makes a return from injury for the Geordies.

The referee tonight is Lee Mason, the man who sent two of Liverpool’s players off, including Jamie Carragher, when an already depleted Liverpool side lost 3-1 away to Roy Hodgson’s Fulham last season. Whether he plans to make himself the star of the show tonight remains to be seen, but with the sideshow put on by Mike Ashley he may have his work cut out if he does.

Pardew may be under pressure tonight due to his unpopularity with supporters, but Roy Hodgson will be too if he fails to win. His record of 13 just away wins in the Premier League in his entire management career means a victory would be a rarity for the former Blackburn manager, himself an extremely unpopular appointment with fans.

A win however, and a win achieved through positive football, would be a boost to Liverpool as the festive fixture list looms large.

Newcastle: 26 Krul, 3 Jose Enrique, 5 Campbell, 12 Simpson, 27 Taylor, 4 Nolan, 7 Barton, 18 Gutierrez, 24 Tiote, 9 Carroll, 23 Ameobi
Subs: 1 Harper, 14 Perch, 8 Guthrie, 10 Routledge, 17 Smith, 11 Lovenkrands, 30 Ranger

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 2 G Johnson, 16 Kyrgiakos, 37 Skrtel, 3 Konchesky, 18 Kuyt, 4 Raul Meireles, 21 Lucas, 17 Maxi, 9 Torres, 24 Ngog
Subs: 1 Jones, 6 Aurelio, 34 Kelly, 10 Cole, 28 C Poulsen, 14 Jovanovic, 19 Babel

The following preview was done before tonight’s teams were announced, the free bet offer still applies if you use the links below:

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One story will undoubtedly dominate in the run up to this game which will prove handy for Roy Hodgson, who’ll welcome the distraction from his side’s terrible away record this season. He’s unlikely to escape the questions altogether but with Alan Pardew taking up more of the column inches, Hodgson can focus more on repeating the level of performance which saw his side cruise past Aston Villa at Anfield on Monday. Something which he’s struggled to do so far this season. And pretty much every other season he’s managed in the Premier League.

If positives can be found in Liverpool’s away record it comes from their last four games. Other than the disappointing showing against Stoke, they looked good for 45 minutes at White Hart Lane, handed Bolton their only home defeat of the season and picked up a point against Wigan.

The big question for this weekend’s game is just what effect the senseless sacking of Chris Hughton followed by seemingly equally senseless appointment of Alan Pardew will be on the players. If, as expected, recent events cause turmoil in the St James’ dressing room, Liverpool could continue their recent good record over Newcastle and secure just their second away win of the season at evens.

Strangely it was without Gerrard, Torres and Carragher that the Reds put in one of their more impressive displays of the season, albeit against a Villa side with a similarly poor away record.

Mereilles has more freedom to get forward from midfield and Babel may play from the start instead of getting ten minutes at the end of games, a situation which seems more conducive to getting a good performance from him. The Dutch player finished well against Villa and is possibly a better option than Ngog to partner Torres if Hodgson opts to play two up top.

Liverpool are evens for this game, which is a bet that cannot go unnoticed. A 2-1 win for Liverpool is a tasty 15/2 as well.

For a little more profit you might consider a bet on Kyrgiakos at 9/1 to score anytime or even 25/1 to score first. Newcastle’s defence will be the first thing to suffer under Pardew and the Greek centre-half has threatened the goal in nearly every game he’s played this season.

In the last ten meetings between these sides Liverpool have won eight, all of which have been by at least two goals. A continuation of that sequence would make Liverpool -2 goals  15/2 a winner. The Reds have also won three of the last four by a scoreline of 3-0 which is a 17/1 shot to happen this Saturday. Of course, the Newcastle players could respond positively to the change of management and Mike Ashley could be proven to have made quite the astute move. Liverpool fans know better than most than anything is possible in this game but somehow this one seems a leap of faith too far. Liverpool to win at evens definitely certainly isn’t.

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3 thoughts on “Torres back for Reds v Newcastle”

  1. Jim,

    Why the lack of substantial stories in recent weeks? Your pages look more akin to a Paddy Power site than what we’re normally used to. Surely there must be something worth reporting about the club? With Tevez wanting out of City breaking tonight what do you think of us making an offer?

  2. Well Ray me old mate I think Jim is beginging to realise he was wrong about almost nearly everything all year and he’s decided to pack it in.

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