Sat, Nov 1, 11:02am by Mike Randall
TWO weeks ago the rabid Toon was calling for the head of embattled manager Alan Pardew.
But Newcastle’s ($3.80 with BetEasy.com.au) 1-0 win over Leicester at home and then an unlikely 2-1 victory away at Tottenham, added to a 2-0 win over Manchester City in the Capital One Cup, midweek, has beaten the wolves away.
And, buoyed by those results, the Magpies are a massive chance of gaining something against an under performing Liverpool ($2.05 with Sportingbet.com.au) (draw is $3.50 with BetFred.com.au) at St James’ Park in the early EPL game.
Liverpool has been but a shadow of the side it was last season, winning less than half its matches in the campaign so far.
The Reds are coming off a 0-0 home draw against Hull, after victories over West Bromwich Albion and then Queens Park Rangers put their season back on track.
Pardew, for his part, clearly smells blood and has vowed to send his resurgent side out to attack.
And that could spell big trouble for the Reds.
“We have real confidence and belief and that’s very important in football,” Pardew said.
“I’ve had some good games against Liverpool since I’ve been manager here and we’ve more than held our own.
“I’m pretty confident I know what Liverpool will do, I’m pretty confident I know what (Reds manager) Brendan’s (Rodgers) side is.
“I know him well enough to know how he’ll come and play but, for us, we can surprise them because one thing’s for sure, Brendan won’t know my team.”
That’s some serious confidence for a bloke who was fighting for his managerial life after his side was bottom of the Premier League table less than three weeks ago, without a single win in their first seven matches.
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has kept the faith in Pardew and Rodgers believes Newcastle are starting to reap the rewards.
“It is great credit to the people at Newcastle,” Rodgers said.
“I know Alan is a top-class manager. We know there are boards who change manager but Alan is a very experienced, outstanding manager and he has got results.
“Where they are at now, on the back of three wins, they have a bit of momentum.”
Last time out at St James’ Park, the pair shared the points, 2-2, thanks to goals from Paul Dummett and the departed Yohan Cabaye, cancelled out by Steve Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge.
The Geordies actually have a handy record on their home deck, nabbing two wins and a draw from their last five.
Result: Draw ($3.50 with BetFred.com.au)
Score: 2-2 ($15 with Centrebet.com)
Goals: Over 2.5 ($1.74 with BetEasy.com.au)
Bet: Newcastle or draw ($1.81 with BetEasy.com.au)
This result could hinge on the fitness of rejuvenated striker Papiss Demba Cisse, who hasn’t played since the 1-0 win over Leicester a fortnight ago. While the plucky Ayoze Perez has filled in manfully for the Senegalese striker, his return to the dizzying heights of his debut season has been one of the catalysts for the Geordies’ resurgence. Ayoze Perez did score against Tottenham last week, but we’d feel more comfortable with Cisse leading the line.
The Reds have their own dramas with strikers up front, Daniel Sturridge is unlikely to play and that leaves the controversial Mario Balotelli, who is yet to score in the Premier League this season, to lead the line. He will be spurred by his first goal in a Liverpool jersey, against Swansea midweek and perhaps that has sparked the Italian’s appetite to give Newcastle trouble. We can smell an upset in the air, but let’s play it safe and go for Newcastle or draw, just to get two bites of the cherry.
Moussa Sissoko ($15 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Nabbed the sealer against City in the 2-0 win midweek and that’s good form to take in to the Premier League tonight. Does not have a Premier League goal, after putting in three in each of the last two campaigns, but we’re trying to nick a bit of value from our picks on the Magpies’ side of things. No better time to break the duck than against Liverpool.
Gabriel Obertan ($19 with Sportsbet.com.au)
The Frenchman has reanimated his corpse and become a vital cog in Pardew’s machine. Played just three games last season and already has five to his name this campaign. Has plenty of tricks and scored his first goal in nearly four years against Leicester – the only goal of the match. Is great to watch when on song and we like him to get one past Mignolet early, at odds.
Mario Balotelli ($6 with Tomwaterhouse.com)
Let’s hope the talented Balotelli gains some confidence after a sweet finish in the Capital One Cup game midweek and fire in for the first one tonight. One goal in the Cup does not normally mean a lot, but with Balotelli, it could be gold. We like Sissoko for his cup strike, so we’ll go with Balotelli on the strength of that (and his endless talent).
Steven Gerrard ($9 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Back in his customary roll behind the striker, Liverpool’s creative force causes great panic from dead ball situations. The Reds have plenty of attacking firepower and that should give them the chance to draw free kicks around the box. Look for Gerrard to get on the end of one, if he can shoo a lurking Balotelli away. Liverpool may even nab an early penalty and you can bet your bottom dollar he won’t make a mistake.
Possible team: Tim Krul, Daryl Janmaat, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Paul Dummett, Jack Colback, Vurnon Anita, Gabriel Obertan, Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffran, Papiss Demba Cisse
As we’ve mentioned, Pardew rates Cisse only as “touch and go” with the knee injury, and while Manu Riviere is back from injury, we reckon he will stick with Ayoze Perez as the lone front man, should the Senegalese be unavailable. It’s been a long time since there was genuine competition for spots at Newcastle, but guys like Rolando Aarons have stuck their hands up after strong performances against City. Gabriel Obertan and Yoan Gouffran better watch their backs. Defenders Steven Taylor and Mike Williamson are under clouds, while Siem de Jong, Davide and hard nosed defensive midfielder Cheick Tiote won’t play.
Possible team: Simon Mignolet, Javi Manquillo, Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno, Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Raheem Sterling, Stephen Gerrard, Adam Lallana, Mario Balotelli
Daniel Sturridge and that troublesome calf are giving Liverpool problems, while Jose Enrique’s knee is shot. Big defender Mamadou Sakho, Jon Flanagan and young buck Suso are all out as well. Emre Can should keep his spot over Joe Allen, while recent strong performances from Philippe Coutinho have put Adam Lallana under the pump.
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