Jurgen Klopp is targeting his first Premier League win against Newcastle United, with Liverpool desperate to record their second victory in a month.
The German has twice failed to pick up maximum points against the St James’ Park side in the division, with only Southampton and Manchester United similarly thwarting him.
Meanwhile, the 3-2 triumph at Leicester City has been the only conquest in six encounters across all competitions for the Reds since the last international break, and with another FIFA interlude following Sunday’s clash, the visitors will be resolute in signing off a difficult period in style.
Rafael Benitez has faced his former club twice in the league, recording a draw each time – with Chelsea in April 2013 and Newcastle three years later.
Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne are both edging closer to a return as they escalate their recoveries from thigh and back injuries respectively.
Neither of the England internationals have featured for Liverpool yet this season, but will maximise the time during the break to push themselves closer to contention.
Sadio Mane has served his three-match domestic suspension and returns to league action for the visitors, while Aleksandar Mitrovic will be available for Newcastle having completed his ban of the same length.
LIVERPOOL POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
Philippe Coutinho is the only player to have started the previous four games and Klopp must decide whether the instrumental playmaker can line up from the off again for a fifth time in just 15 days.
Georginio Wijnaldum, set to make his first return to St James’ Park, could fill in for the Brazilian if not or come in for Emre Can or Jordan Henderson if the Reds boss wants to refresh his midfield.
Given this is the final fixture before the international interval, Klopp is unlikely to make many alterations unless it is out of necessity.
Daniel Sturridge, who has netted in all four of his Premier League starts at St. James’ Park, will be hoping the German decides to change things up in attack and unleash him against Benitez’s men.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, too, will be crossing fingers for a first run-out from the off in the competition for the Reds.
Simon Mignolet will return in goal and Joe Gomez is available to operate at right full-back or in the heart of defence having sat out the 1-1 draw at Spartak Moscow due to a one-match European suspension.
NEWCASTLE TEAM NEWS
Brighton ended Newcastle’s run of three victories on the spin last weekend, keeping them from scoring for the first time since August 20.
Benitez will look to equally restrict Liverpool’s attacking threats, while demanding a direct, aggressive approach from his side in possession.
The counter, set-pieces – a key strength to the hosts’ revival after a tough start to the season – plus the combination of Matt Ritchie and Jamaal Lascelles is expected to be the prime avenues used to trouble the Merseysiders.
Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara are sidelined through injury, while Florian Lejeune is doubtful due to an ankle problem.
BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS
Newcastle United have won four of their last six home top-flight matches against Liverpool (D1, L1), winning each of their last two without conceding a goal.
Of the 41 fixtures between two sides to have been played 40 or more times in the Premier League era, Newcastle against the Reds has seen the most goals per game on average: 138 goals in 44 games with 3.14 on average.
Mohamed Salah has scored in four of his six Premier League appearances for Liverpool so far (four goals). No player has ever scored in five of their first seven Premier League games for the club.
TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME
Kick off is at 16:30 BST and the match will be televised live in the UK on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League.
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