Friday, October 18, 2013

Liverpool Take Champions League Pursuit to St. James’ Park

After a week break as a result of the World Cup qualifiers across the
globe, the European Leagues resume this weekend with some interesting
fixtures. one interesting encounter will be Liverpool trip to St.
James' Park as the Reds continue their quest for a Champions League
Liverpool's terrific start to the season has come as a surprise to
most; the Reds were missing Luis Suarez their star player for the
first four league games but didn't seem to miss a beat as they beat
Manchester United, Stoke and Aston Villa. Since the return of Suarez
Liverpool have beaten Sunderland and Crystal Palace both on a
scoreline of 3-1. Daniel Sturrudge has lit the league up scoring six
goals so far this term and Sturridge and Suarez appear to be linking
well and complimenting each other which can only be a positive thing
for Liverpool.
Stephen Gerrard the Liverpool and England captain has been in the
media saying that the focus for Liverpool is the Champions League and
with Brendan Rodgers the Liverpool manager spouting the same sound
bites it would appear as if there is a certain amount of harmony in
the Liverpool team and their focus is good.
Newcastle have been all over the place since the start of the season.
Starting with a poor away loss to Manchester City , Newcastle have
since turned things around winning three and drawing one. The team did
go down away to Everton and home to Hull as well but the magpies do
have some terrific attacking talents.
Papa Cisse has not been firing on all cylinders yet this season but he
hasn't really had to as Loic Remy and Hatem Ben Arfa have been
terrific since the start of the season. Manager Alan Pardew will be
looking for his team to build on the away win against Cardiff last
time out.
Newcastle have question marks over a trio of defenders. Captain
Fabricio Coloccini is perhaps the biggest doubt with a non specified
muscle injury which forced him to miss Argentina's midweek clash with
Uruguay. His possible absence is compounded by an ongoing hamstring
problem to fellow centre-back Steven Taylor which has kept the
27-year-old out for the past month.
If both are unavailable then Mike Williamson and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa are
likely to form a largely untested partnership at the heart of the
defence. Massadio Haidara is the other defender potentially missing
but with Davide Santon and Mathieu Debuchy the first choice
full-backs, his absence would be much less keenly felt.
Elsewhere, talented winger Arfa will be hoping for a recall after
being dropped for the 2-1 win at Cardiff City. It will be interesting
to see how positive Pardew is up front with Papiss Cisse and Loic Remy
a potentially potent partnership if played together, although Cisse is
currently on a barren run in front of goal stretching back to April.
For Liverpool, right-back Glen Johnson and midfielder Joe Allen are
both back in training following ankle and hamstring problems
respectively. Allen is perhaps the more likely to be available but
with Lucas Leiva returning from a one-match suspension and Jordan
Henderson impressing everyone with his form so far this season, the
Welshman is unlikely to get anything more than a place on the bench.
The duo's recovery from injury, added to the recent comeback of Aly
Cissokho, means only Philippe Coutinho remains sidelined.
The creative Brazilian is penciled in for a return from shoulder
surgery against West Bromwich Albion next weekend. Given the side has
recorded back-to-back 3-1 victories against Sunderland and Crystal
Palace, changes other than Lucas' return, probably at the expense of
Raheem Sterling, are unlikely unless players have picked up injuries
whilst on international duty.
A terrific game on the return of the Premier League from the
international break, with the likelihood to produce many goals.
The International break maybe might just have come at the right time
for Arsenal, a heavy schedule and 10 wins in a row left the Gunners
looking a little gased in their last outing against West Bromwich
Albion and the Gunners came away with just a draw. But this game
represents the perfect post international break game for an Arsenal
side trying to maintain their push at the top of the Barclays Premier
Arsene Wenger will be looking for Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and
Mezut Ozil to continue their terrific form thus far and will be hoping
to put this game away early as Arsenal have been the masters of the
quick start this season.
Norwich City may be playing for manager Chris Hughton's job as the
Canaries have really struggled of late and have lost three of their
last four games. The bigger problem for Hughton though may be that the
signings he brought in during the offseason haven't really worked out.
Ricky Van Wolfwinkel has only scored once in seven games and Gary
Hooper has only played two games. Norwich in general have been very
solid defensively since Hughton took over and the defence is what is
going to turn things around for Norwich.
Chelsea will look to keep pace with early-season leaders Arsenal and
Liverpool this weekend when they welcome Cardiff City to Stamford
Bridge. The Blues have won all three of their home fixtures this
season, but the Bluebirds have lost just once away from home, and will
certainly fancy their chances at adding another high-profile scalp to
their growing list of upsets.
Chelsea will likely be without star left-back Ashley Cole and lead
striker Fernando Torres for this one. Torres' absence will likely
provide a starting appearance for Demba Ba, who is yet to find the
back of the net in the Premier League this year, while Cole's absence
should see Cesar Azpilicueta come into the starting side on the left
flank. While summer signing Andreas Cornelius is questionable to make
his return from an ankle injury this weekend for the Bluebirds.
Chelsea have suffered just one loss all season -away to Everton and
come into this one with a perfect home record courtesy of wins over
Hull, Aston Villa and Fulham. Cardiff don't have the same strong form
to speak of, winning just one of their last five fixtures.
Encouraging performances against Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham and
Newcastle United will give the new boys of the Premier League plenty
of confidence heading into this weekend's match.

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