One of the Premier League’s most entertaining fixtures today concludes the weekend schedule as the ever-improving Magpies host Jurgen Klopp’s Reds in a mouth-watering clash at St James’ Park. Newcastle have established themselves firmly back among the big boys, thanks to their Saudi-backed takeover, but have not beaten Liverpool in any fixture for some eight years now.
Liverpool know they must win games like this to have any hope of returning to the Champions League next term, after finishing fifth behind Newcastle last season, and will be buoyed by their impressive record against today’s opponents. However, ongoing speculation over Mohamed Salah’s future amid interest from Saudi Arabia has disrupted their preparations.
In more positive news for Liverpool, though, Trent Alexander-Arnold has been passed fit and starts this afternoon, while new signing Wataru Endo and Joel Matip both come in. Newcastle have also been handed a fitness boost with Joelinton able to start after a knock sustained against Manchester City. Eddie Howe has named an unchanged team, with no involvement yet for Chelsea loanee Lewis Hall. Follow all the action below with Standard Sport’s dedicated match blog.
Liverpool draft in Matip and Endo
Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, makes two changes to the Liverpool side that overturned that shock early deficit against Bournemouth at Anfield despite Alexis Mac Allister’s second-half sending off.
New £16m signing from Stuttgart Wataru Endo, who made his Reds debut off the bench a week ago, comes in for his first Premier League start in place of Diogo Jota as Klopp looks for more stability in midfield.
In the heart of defence, Joel Matip partners captain Virgil van Dijk with Ibrahima Konate out injured.
Mo Salah starts as expected in what some have claimed could be his last game for Liverpool, with Cody Gakpo getting the nod over Jota in attack along with Salah and Luis Diaz.
With no Konate at all, 20-year-old centre-back Jarell Quansah comes onto the bench for the visitors.
Howe names unchanged Newcastle team
Eddie Howe names the same Newcastle XI that started last weekend’s rather flat 1-0 defeat by reigning Premier League champions Manchester City at the Etihad.
The only change to the matchday squad is on the bench, where winger Jacob Murphy replaces Matt Ritchie.
New signing Lewis Hall isn’t in the squad at all and will have to wait for his Magpies debut.
Joelinton is passed fit to start in midfield as expected after his knock against City.
Starting XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Endo, Salah, Gakpo, Diaz
Subs: Gomez, Nunez, Elliott, Jota, Tsimikas, Bajcetic, Doak, Kelleher, Quansah
Starting XI: Pope, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn, Tonali, Bruno Guimaraes, Joelinton, Almiron, Isak, Gordon
Subs: Dubravka, Lascelles, Wilson, Targett, Barnes, Livramento, Murphy, Anderson, Longstaff
Lineups on the way
Less than five minutes to go now until we get word of the official team news from a wet St James’ Park.
Salah ‘100 per cent committed’ to Liverpool, says Klopp
With the English transfer window closing at 11pm BST on Friday night, Liverpool would have preciously little time to replace Salah if indeed he was to depart for Saudi Arabia in a big-money move.
Klopp has admitted that the Reds losing their attacking talisman at this stage would be nothing short of a disaster, joining other Premier League managers in insisting that the Saudi window – which runs until September 20 – should be brought into line with their European counterparts.
“There’s a lot going on around us but that’s it,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “There’s speculation and I think that’s completely normal at this moment in time.
“Mo is a super experienced player and 100% committed to us here, to the club. No, I don’t worry about that to be honest. A normal club in the Premier League or in other leagues, it’s always possible that a big club comes in and wants players off you. Now that market is extended. I don’t know if I’m worried about it or not, we will have to see.
“We have our own experience with it, with Hendo and Fabinho. But in general, what is a real problem is the longer transfer window. It’s a real problem because as long as you have the chance to react it’s pretty much part of the business a little bit.
“When we can’t react anymore it’s a catastrophe. That’s the truth. That’s why I asked already, a few weeks ago, the authorities to maybe have a look at that would be really bad if they can just pick players.”
Klopp: Liverpool would reject Saudi Salah bid
Mo Salah’s enduring importance to this Liverpool team simply cannot be overstated.
For his part, Jurgen Klopp insists that no offer has yet been received from Saudi Arabia for the “essential” forward, claiming firmly that any bid would be met with a firm no.
“It’s always a bit difficult to talk about media stories because there is nothing to talk about at the moment,” he told reporters.
“We don’t have an offer, Mo Salah is still a Liverpool player, obviously for all the things we do, he’s essential and will be. There’s nothing there. If there would be something, the answer would be no.
“My life philosophy is I think about a problem when I have it. At the moment, there’s absolutely nothing. I said already if there is something, the answer would be no.”
The quiet before the inevitable storm on a gloomy summer afternoon at St James’ Park…
Mohamed Salah to Saudi Arabia transfer latest
So the Mohamed Salah to Saudi Arabia rumours are seriously gathering pace once again, leaving fans more than a little concerned with the transfer deadline now just five days away.
The Egyptian superstar has been routinely linked with a big-money move to the Gulf State this summer as one of the ambitious Saudi Pro League’s top-tier targets.
However, Salah’s agent Ramy Abbas Issa has constantly and firmly rebuffed any speculation that his client is looking to leave Anfield just one year after signing that new blockbuster long-term contract.
But reports this week stated that Al-Ittihad – who have already signed the likes of Fabinho, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Jota in this window – have offered £80m to Liverpool for Salah, who would earn a mammoth £65m per year in Saudi.
Fresh speculation from Saudi broadcaster KSA Sports TV now claims that Salah has told Liverpool of his desire to make that move and could even fly out for a medical after what could be his final match for the Reds this afternoon.
We are sure that Klopp will be quizzed plenty more on this saga before and after today’s game. Could Salah really follow Fabinho and Jordan Henderson from Anfield to the Middle East?
Newcastle vs Liverpool prediction
Newcastle might have been disappointing against Manchester City but have been so strong at home and have the tools to punish a Liverpool team no one is quite sure about defensively.
Newcastle to win, 2-1.