Liverpool and Manchester City are tussling for dominance but Newcastle, facing both of these juggernauts in the next week, can have a huge say in who takes that league title.
They have totally transformed their season since January — so much so that only Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have picked up more Premier League points than Eddie Howe’s Newcastle in 2022.
This turnaround has been nothing short of astonishing.Liverpool are a side that like to suffocate their opponents into submission — a team that was meticulously built, player by player, and ou.vsu.edu.ph/blog/index.php?entryid=13112 window by window, to fight for this unprecedented quadruple.
Newcastle have undergone a remarkable transformation since Eddie Howe became manager
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be wary of Newcastle when they travel to St James’ Park
Where they are now is where Newcastle dream of being, and the supporters hope they are witnessing the start of something special. Howe arrived in November when the club were joint-bottom with Norwich on a meagre five points from 11 matches.
After nine games in charge, he had overseen only a single win. But January turned them around.Howe identified what was needed and bought well, making five signings who have suited his 4-3-3 system.
The back four had the biggest surgery with Matt Targett, Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn all brought in. All have made major contributions — I involve Trippier in that because he helped the team kickstart their comeback before his injury, including scoring a winner against Aston Villa.
On the right of the midfield three is another impressive January signing — Bruno Guimaraes.If he is a sign of what’s to follow in this bright new future for Newcastle, then very exciting times are ahead.
Bruno Guimaraes has been an inspired signing for Newcastle United and is a class act
Joelinton has also impressed since being converted from a centre forward to a midfielder
Bruno had to wait until March 10 for his first start but he’s been a big hit and is class act.He’s a total all-round midfielder — tenacious in the tackle, tidy and neat with the ball, but full of flair — and is on a higher level to what they’ve bought in recent years.
On the left of the midfield is Joelinton, who has been a revelation since Howe converted him from a centre forward.Jonjo Shelvey mainly sits as the deepest midfielder and he looks inspired by having Bruno beside him.
Up front they’ve mostly started with Allan Saint-Maximin on the left, new signing Chris Wood down the middle and Miguel Almiron on the right.
Howe made some interesting changes for their trip to Norwich last weekend.In a comfortable 3-0 win, Joelinton started as centre forward but was regularly moving out to wide left to allow Saint-Maximin to come in centrally.
Howe will be hoping to test Liverpool’s formidable high line at St James’ Park on Saturday
It was from that position that Joelinton grabbed himself a couple of goals.But Howe is likely to revert to his regular 4-3-3 line-up for Liverpool.
He will be wanting to test Klopp’s formidable high line at St James’ Park. Klopp’s side are the offside kings — opponents have been flagged 131 times against them this season, far more than any other team.
But just pinching possession off Liverpool can be difficult.If Newcastle can get Bruno or Shelvey on the ball, then both are capable of sending long balls forward for Saint-Maximin and Almiron to run on to from deep, with Howe hoping that’s how they can beat the offside trap.
Mind you, even if they manage that, they will then have the not-so-small matter of beating a one-v-one master in Alisson! It’s a tough ask, but Howe will hope this is one way they can exploit Liverpool.
They will know the visitors will control possession but they need to be ready to launch these counter-attacks when given the chance.
Newcastle fans finally have a team and a manager they can get behind after a torrid period
These are long-awaited days for the Geordie faithful.From where they were, staring at relegation from the Premier League, to where they are now — winning 10 of their last 14 games — the dream they had when the new owners arrived is now becoming a reality.
St James’ Park will be bouncing for this.It will be at its atmospheric best now that its supporters have a club who are competing again.
This clash is an opportunity for Newcastle to take on one of Europe’s finest, harbouring a renewed belief that they themselves can one day emulate what Liverpool are trying to achieve this season.