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Opinion

Scratching this 25 year itch at Anfield

1 month ago
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A lot is made of the fact that when Newcastle United won 1-0 at Old Trafford in 2013, it was the first league win there since 1972.

However, if you want a stat that dwarfs that one, how about two Newcastle league wins at Anfield in 46 visits since 1950. It scarcely seems possible.

To make it even stranger, those two NUFC wins in the past 69 years were consecutive. Newcastle winning in 1988 on the way to relegation that season, then a brilliant 2-0 win when a brilliant promoted Kevin Keegan side visited in 1994.

It has all gone a little bit wrong after that, the dramatic/horrific 4-3 game in the ‘so close’ 1995/96 season setting in motion a record of four draws and all of the rest defeats.

All a bit strange when you take into account the fact that in this Premier League era, Liverpool haven’t even been all that good. They have been decent but have never won the title in the Premier League era.

The home and away difference is always one of the more baffling in sport and especially football. Whilst no wins at Anfield since 1994, in that same time period Newcastle have beaten the scousers eight times at St James Park. Whilst even against an often all dominant Manchester United, in the PL era Newcastle have still beaten them five times at St James Park.

In the build up to Anfield, Steve Bruce has gone with the ‘records are there to be broken’ when asked about the feeble record in recent decades.

However, on a more realistic level, Newcastle fans will be simply looking for signs that Tottenham away wasn’t a total one-off against a team experiencing problems of its own.

A win against Liverpool would obviously be off the scale and even a draw would not be too far behind that, considering the form that the reds are in and with Sean Longstaff now adding to an extensive black and white injury list.

Watford found it far too easy to create chances at St James Park and with Newcastle looking well short in terms of goal threat, it is important that we see indications of the NUFC backline being up for the challenge this season.

The collapse at Norwich was even more surprising and worrying than the clean sheet and win was surprising and pleasing at Tottenham.

Each of the past two seasons have seen only two clubs outside the top four concede less goals than Newcastle both times.

Steve Bruce promised attacking and entertaining football on the front foot ahead of the season but reality has been very different. He may need a very similar defensive record this season as the past two years if Newcastle are to be comfortable this time around.

If keeping the shape and discipline at Anfield, that will be a big positive indicator, no matter what the result ends up being.

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