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Newcastle V Liverpool at Sports Direct Arena : Match Preview
Published : 01 Apr 2012 12:14:50Rss feed
Pardew charts highs and lows
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is preparing himself for "fireworks" as he heads into yet another epic battle with Liverpool on Sunday. The 50-year-old launched his Magpies career with a 3-1 victory over the Reds in December 2010, but has spent much of his time in the game tasting the highs and lows of football against the Anfield club. His curriculum vitae boasts a famous FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool as a Crystal Palace player, but also a heartbreaking final defeat in the same competition as West Ham manager, and he is expecting another classic this weekend as the two clubs battle for a top-six Barclays Premier League finish. Pardew said: "Liverpool brings out no middle ground for me. "I have been beaten by them 9-0; I won a semi-final when they probably had the strongest team they have ever had and we should never have won; I was winning with 90 minutes on the clock in the FA Cup final and I was denied, and we should have won in extra-time, so that was another massive low. "Then obviously, my first game here was a massive win, very, very important for my tenure and everything else that has gone on since. "There is no middle ground, so expect fireworks either really negatively or really positively."
Pardew will be boosted by the returns of Cheick Tiote and Ryan Taylor for the clash, however central defender and captain Fabricio Coloccini (hamstring) joins Peter Lovenkrands, Leon Best, Sammy Ameobi, Steven Taylor and Sylvain Marveaux on the casualty list.
Meanwhile, Charlie Adam misses out for Liverpool as he must wait a fortnight for further assessment of his knee problem. Manager Kenny Dalglish is hopeful some of his other players will be fit to return, with defenders Glen Johnson (calf), Martin Kelly (ankle) and Daniel Agger (rib) all missing last weekend's defeat to Wigan. Midfielder Maxi Rodriguez has recovered from the illness which kept him out of the last game but forward Craig Bellamy (calf) has missed four successive matches. Remarkably, Newcastle are currently eight points better off than the Carling Cup winners as they jealously defend the sixth place they hope they can retain or better over the remaining eight games of the campaign. A win or a draw this weekend would leave them in pole position to see off Liverpool's challenge. However, Pardew knows even then, they would have a long way to go before the two clubs could be compared side by side. He said: "They are a club steeped in a tradition of winning trophies, and they have won another one this year. "We haven't got that tradition, unfortunately, and we need to try to gain it." The game will see former Magpies boss Kenny Dalglish bring his #35million signing Andy Carroll back to the club were he made his name with a question mark still hanging over that purchase. Pardew, of course, never wanted to sell the Gateshead-born powerhouse, but in Demba Ba and the in-form Papiss Cisse, he has found replacements at a fraction of that price. He said: "It's very difficult sometimes to justify money that you have invested. They have got very, very good young players and they are finding their way. "(Jordan) Henderson, Carroll and (Stewart) Downing are having their first season, and some take longer than others. "We have been blessed with the fact that ours settled very quickly and gelled very quickly - Demba Ba, (Yohan) Cabaye, Cisse has come in and got five goals - sometimes it can go like that." Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt accepts the criticism which has been levelled at the club in recent weeks and admits the players have performed below expectations.
The Reds head to St James' Park on the back of five defeats in six Premier League matches. The latest was a dismal performance at home to Wigan last week which saw the players and manager Dalglish come under even more scrutiny. "It (criticism) doesn't surprise me because Liverpool should always at least be in the top four or five," Kuyt told Press Association Sport. "Manchester City have been in there the last couple of years and Spurs are doing really well but I think this team should be in the top five. "That is what we expect for ourselves and that is the pressure we put on ourselves because a club like Liverpool should always be there. "But unfortunately we are not in that position at the moment so we are just trying to change things. "I think criticism at a club like Liverpool is always there when you don't reach the position people expect you to. "That is something we have to change and we can start on Sunday."