Newcastle United-Liverpool Preview
LONDON (SE) - Steven Gerrard is set to make his 600th appearance for Liverpool when the club host Newcastle United at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.
Gerrard will captain the Reds as they look to bounce back from a disappointing cup exit at the hands of Swansea City on Wednesday evening - a game that showed Liverpool's over-reliance on their veteran midfielder.
"I would have loved to have given Gerrard and (Luis) Suarez a rest because they have been played continuously and they are the catalysts for the team, but when you need them you need them," said manager Brendan Rodgers in his official pre-match press conference. "That is where the club is at.
"For this match, I looked at the young players and the fringe players and tried to give them the opportunity to get into the Premier League team. I gave the players the opportunity to come in and shine -- and that is all you can do as a coach or a manager. I can't keep playing Steven Gerrard and using Luis Suarez as our only striker."
Newcastle lie tenth in the table going into the latest round of league games, and manager Alan Pardew believes that his team are under less pressure than Saturday's hosts.
"There's a little bit more pressure at Liverpool because of the stature and the trophies that they've won," said Pardew on the club's official website. "You have to look at Newcastle and say we haven't won a trophy in so long. You'd have to put them, historically, much higher than us.
"It's a period for Brendan (Rodgers) and the team when they're evolving and when they're evolving they're vulnerable. Perhaps they are at the moment but they still have some fantastic players. The England captain and Suarez are two of the best players in the Premiership, so we have to make sure we are very much on top of our game.
"I think for British football it's good that Liverpool have a strong side, like Newcastle. They are two clubs that are very similar at the minute. We're both striving to be a top-six team. I still think we're two very good sides though and it will be a cracking game. Both of us have ambitions, us again to finish in the top six, hopefully the top four, and that's what we're going to stick with."
Glen Johnson is a doubt for Liverpool, while Fabio Borini (ankle), Martin Kelly (knee) and Lucas Leiva (thigh) are out. Newcastle's Demba Ba (calf) will face a late fitness test, but Dan Gosling (knee), Ryan Taylor (knee) and Robbie Elliott (groin) are out.
Liverpool have won their last seven games against Newcastle at Anfield, with a combined scoreline of 19-2. The Magpies are without a win in 17 trips to the Liverpool ground - a run that dates back to 1995. Victory would give Liverpool their first back-to-back home wins since September 2011. Newcastle have won their last three away from home but have yet to win on the road this season. No player has attempted more shots in the Premier League this season than Suarez (50), while no player has managed more shots on target than Newcastle's Ba (15).