It seems an unlikely pairing for the Premier League’s latest rivalry.
But anyone who watched the two feisty, tetchy and splenetic clashes between Newcastle and Liverpool last season will know just how intensely each side wants to beat the other.
The Saudi side against the Culture Club. New money and old dominance, the northern upstarts against the traditional northern powerhouse.
Newcastle pipped Liverpool to the fourth and final Champions League spot last season but host them at St James’ Park on Sunday without a win in 14 games across eight years.
They look to be the next big hurdle for Magpies manager Eddie Howe’s revolution – can they prove Jurgen Klopp’s warnings about them becoming the next ‘superpower’ right or will it be too soon for that? Mail Sport previews the match below…
Newcastle United will looking for a second-straight home this season when they host Liverpool
Liverpool go into Sunday’s mouthwatering clash having not lost to Newcastle in eight years
What Klopp has said
The volatile Klopp – never short of a quote or two – compared Newcastle’s takeover by Saudi Arabia to the European Super League and has also hit out at the unlimited wealth of what is now effectively the world’s richest club, as well as the countless and flagrant human rights abuses and persecution of the club’s ownership.
He said: ‘There are three clubs (Man City, PSG, Newcastle) in world football who can do what they want financially. They can do what they want. We have to do that, look at this, make it younger, here a prospect, here a talent, that’s what you have to do.
‘Newcastle, there is no ceiling for this club. There is no ceiling for Newcastle. Congratulations. Some other clubs have ceilings. There’s no ceiling for Newcastle. Congratulations.’
Though his comments do seem odd given that the Reds have strong financial backing and only a week ago were willing to spend around £110million on Brighton’s Moises Caicedo, funds out of reach for the vast majority of clubs worldwide.
But there is some truth to what he says in terms of the Magpies’ recent, seemingly unlimited, spending. Despite Howe’s claims they will be limited in their transfer business (given Financial Fair Play restrictions) they spent a massive amount in the first window after he joined, the Saudi shilling saving them from relegation.
This summer they have already spent £122m on Sandro Tonali (£52m), Harvey Barnes (£38m) and Tino Livramento (£32m), with plans for more.
Other clubs fear the Saudi state will facilitate even more spending with inflated sponsorship deals and disproportionately large bids for their players from Saudi Pro League clubs.
Klopp also had a cheeky dig at Newcastle over the rule change only allowing one coach in the technical area at a time – widely seen by neutrals as aimed at the Magpies, whose perma-tanned No 2 Jason Tindall (accused of being a self-important attention-seeker by some fans) is often in the ear of the fourth official all game.
Newcastle have splashed the cash this summer – including getting Sandro Tonali for £52million
The German joked: ‘It’s like that in the Champions League anyway. I think it’s only a problem for one team: Newcastle. Sorry!’
Howe responded: ‘I did hear about Jurgen’s comments. The rules do impact us more than other teams because of how we work.
‘This isn’t a new thing for me and Jason, for as long as I have been in management, it is something we have done. I didn’t find it too bad last week. We dovetailed in and out and I didn’t notice a big change.’
The heated touchline spat between the two benches of coaches and substitutes at Anfield last season could just be a warm-up for Tyneside on Sunday. Don’t miss it!
Jurgen Klopp (left) has been critical of Newcastle boss Eddie Howe (right) and Jason Tindall
Direction of travel
It does seem Newcastle are aiming to, or already have, become the latest club to gatecrash the traditional ‘Big Six’ of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham.
They did so with aplomb last campaign after finishing 11th the season before, knocking the Merseyside outfit out of Europe’s top competition and heralding a new era of dominance ahead.
Howe and Co only finished four points behind United, losing just five games – the same as champions Man City. Two of those were against Liverpool. Though both sides seem to be going in opposite directions, the Reds proved they are still alive and kicking with a crucial six points across their two games last season.
The first saw a 98th-minute winner from Fabio Carvalho complete a last-gasp turnaround at Anfield, while the return fixture saw Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo put the visitors 2-0 up and Toon goalkeeper Nick Pope sent off across 13 nightmare minutes. That, and the long unbeaten run against Newcastle, will give Klopp hope.
Fabio Carvalho wheels away in celebration after his dramatic later Liverpool winner last term
In the return encounter on Tyneside, Newcastle lost 2-0 which included Nick Pope’s red card
But there’s a reason he’s been so outspoken about the nouveau riche club – he knows they’re coming. They’re in his rearview mirror. And they might not be behind him too much longer.
Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier, 32, the vice-captain and elder statesman of the team, is a rare older player among Howe’s men. Bruno Guimaraes and Harvey Barnes are 25, Sven Botman, Alexander Isak and Sandro Tonali 23, Anthony Gordon 22. They have the core of a team which could grow and develop and peak together in the future.
Liverpool’s best three players are Alisson (30), Virgil van Dijk (32) and Mohamed Salah (31). Yes, they have promising youngsters with the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo, Alexis Mac Allister (all 24), Dominik Szoboszlai (22) and midfielders Harvey Elliott (20) and Stefan Bajcetic (18).
Liverpool are on the way down. Newcastle are on the way up. That message could be rammed home on Sunday.
Coming to a head this weekend
So there’s a lot at stake on Tyneside.
Yes, it’s early in the season and yes, whoever loses has more than enough time to catch back up.
But the winner will lay down a real marker of their intentions. City’s tight 1-0 win against Newcastle last week proved their title credentials.
Can Klopp and Co take a similar step in the bearpit of St James’ Park?
Let’s find out…