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That Empty Feeling - Liverpool v Newcastle Preview

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Preview of Liverpool's match against Newcastle and gamethread.

Liverpool v Newcastle
Liverpool v Newcastle

Is there anything left to play for? That is the real question. Sure, finishing above Everton would be nice, but that is about it. Do I really need to mention who we'll be missing?

Newcastle have struggled a bit as of late, a far cry from their form last season. After cashing in on Demba Ba, one would think their offense would struggle a bit. However, their goal tally for the year so far (43) isn't too far off their final total for last year (56). However, if they don't ramp up production, they will fall well short. The big difference seems to be in defense where they have already conceded 9 more goals than they did last season with 4 games to go.

Given the FA's recent stance on violent conduct, let's hope Reina can keep his cool, and more importantly, that no one snipes James Perch if he is touched. That is one of the worst flops I've seen. No excusing Reina, but Perch was ridiculous. We don't want to see Enrique in net again. The backline will also have to work hard to contain Cisse. As we've seen before, he only needs even a glimmer of a chance to produce some absolutely stunning goals. Even though his form hasn't been quite as good, he is still extremely dangerous.

So this is Sturridge's time to shine. Apparently Rodgers had benched him because he didn't feel as if he was working hard enough. It must have been something in training, because I haven't seen it on the pitch. Either way, Rodgers will have no choice but to let him lead the line. This always seems to be a testy affair between two teams with great traditions and fanbases. It has seen a decent number of red cards including the aforementioned Reina red and most recently Coloccini the first time they met this season.

Hopefully this one won't disappoint. My prediction: 1-1 draw. Liverpool are probably reeling a bit still from everything that has happened this week.

If you're curious what the Newcastle fans perspective is, you can check out SB Nation's Coming Home Newcastle.

Things to look for:

-Can Liverpool bounce back from everything that has been going on this week? Not appealing the decision will hopefully allow things to settle out tonight so the club can approach this with their heads on straight.

-It is also looking like Ben Arfa is in line for a return. A rumored transfer target, he is a quality footballer. Keep an eye on him if he plays.

-I really want Rodgers to stick with the 4-3-3. Coutinho should have decent joy against this Newcastle defense and will likely be the closest to filling Suarez's shoes. If he and Sturridge can link up a few times, this could be a great game for Liverpool.

-Can Ian Ayre stay late and manage to work out a deal for them to take Carroll? Let's hope so.

-Will Alan Pardew push another linesman and receive a two match ban? Yeah, cause shoving linesman is five times less severe than biting, headbutting or punching. We wouldn't want to take a stand against that would we?

-Who else will step up? Perhaps it will be Gerrard playing a more advanced role to make up for the hole in attack. Will this leave even more vulnerable to the counter though? Either way, Henderson seems to have shown he can't do it over the last few weeks.