The rising star of Jurgen Klopp battles Steve McClaren’s weak side this Sunday as the German’s re-energised Liverpool tackle the former England manager’s free-wheeling Newcastle United.
Four consecutive wins has helped Liverpool move within sight of the Premier League top four and into the League Cup semifinals, while successive heavy losses to Leicester City and Crystal Palace have sent Newcastle careening into the relegation zone.
Newcastle’s porousness and Liverpool’s attacking incisiveness could spell another bleak afternoon for McClaren, whose position is reportedly under threat after just two wins in 14 league games.
But after a number of matches in which his team have conceded the first goal, Klopp is wary of giving Newcastle hope, warning his players: “Confidence is something like a small flower.
“If you have it, but somebody kicks it in the game, you see nothing. But if you don’t have it, you can get it easily back if the other team give you the opportunity to do this. That’s what we have to be prepared for.
“I never have a problem with over-confidence. We expect it (to win), too. To be honest, we expect it all the time, but it doesn’t work all the time and that’s the problem.”
For all Klopp’s cautiousness, his team are flying, and McClaren will be acutely aware that all Liverpool’s best recent displays have come away from home.
They have won 3-1 at Chelsea, 4-1 at Manchester City and 6-1 at Southampton, in the League Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday, only failing to win in Klopp’s first game, at Tottenham Hotspur, which finished 0-0.
Striker Daniel Sturridge marked his first start under Klopp with a smoothly taken brace at Southampton and he is in contention to start again at St James’ Park, along with captain Jordan Henderson, who has recovered from a broken foot.
Henderson’s return to fitness is timely, with Emre Can suspended after picking up five bookings, but Klopp says that he will ease the England international back into action carefully.
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