Newcastle’s bright run of form may have come to and last weekend when they were beaten by fellow promoted side Brighton by a solitary goal. That aside it has been a relatively solid if not spectacular start to the season as they have three wins under their belt from the first half dozen fixtures.
This afternoon in the third of what is a Sunday treble bill the Magpies play host to Liverpool and Rafa Benitez will be going up against one his former employers and although there is a great deal of respect between the two parties the Spaniard will be looking to claim the scalp of the Merseyside club for his current paymasters.
Of course Rafa Benitez is the only manager in the modern era to lit the Champions League trophy for Liverpool and that looks like a feat that current boss Jurgen Klopp may struggle with after his side have only managed to pick two draws in as many fixtures as they return to Europe’s top club competition.
An opening matchday draw with Sevilla at Anfield was then added to with a draw in Moscow against defending Russian Premier League champions Spartak. It was a case of history repeating itself as once again Liverpool should have come away from the game with all three points.
Once again the goalkeeper would have come in for some criticism as Lloris Karius offered up far too much space in the Liverpool goal for Fernando to aim at and the Brazilian duly obliged as he floated his free kick up and over the wall to put the Russian club ahead.
Philippe Coutinho was on hand to score the equaliser and score as many goals in as many games as he also found the net against Leicester last Saturday. The Reds would eventually go on to win 3-2 but once again the spotlight was shining too bright on the goalkeeper.
Simon Mignolet may well have ended up the hero after saving Jamie Vardy’s second half penalty but he needlessly put his teammates under undue pressure after clattering the England international in the area and giving away the spot kick just moments before.
Whether the rotation between the two goalkeepers is helping the situation I’m not too sure, neither Mignolet or Karius looks like they have done enough to warrant being chosen as the club’s undisputed number one and that is not helping Jurgen Klopp make his mind up as to who should be wearing the gloves on a long term basis.
There is no such issue at Newcastle with Rob Elliot looking assured in between the sticks, unfortunately for the Republic of Ireland international there was little he could do to keep out Tomer Hemed’s close range strike at The AMEX last Sunday.
It was a game that was symptomatic of two promoted sides, a lot of endeavour from both sides but they were still somewhat lacking in the final third. Newcastle had a late flurry but they could not break down what was a resolute Brighton side.
Had Tomer Hemed’s stamp on DeAndre Yedlin been noticed and the Israeli subsequently given his marching orders then the complexion of the game could have been very different but sometimes these decisions or lack thereof go against you and unfortunately the Magpies did not get the rub of the green this time around.
Will there luck be in this afternoon when they play host to Liverpool. Unfortunately for them I think not as Liverpool will be able to make it two away wins in a row in terms of the Premier League as they look to put a forgettable September behind them. An away win for me.
Here is what social media thinks (ignore the fact I thought the game was originally at Anfield)
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) September 29, 2017