Eddie Howe has told Newcastle they need to be “near perfect” if they are to address their dreadful record at Liverpool.
The Magpies will run out at Anfield on Monday evening having not won there in the Premier League since April 1994, when Rob Lee and Andy Cole were their goalscorers, and having lost their last five home and away against Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Newcastle came close to ending that run last season when they led through Alexander Isak’s debut goal with 29 minutes remaining, before Roberto Firmino’s equaliser set up substitute Fabio Carvalho to snatch victory for Liverpool in the eighth minute of stoppage time.
Head coach Howe, whose side was also denied victory over the Reds at St James’ Park by Darwin Nunez’s late double in August, said: “There have been a couple of painful games against Liverpool, for sure.
“The game last season at Anfield was particularly tough for us. This season wasn’t any easier. The positive thing in both of those games was we performed really well and we were competitive and gave Liverpool a really good game.
“For us, we need to be near perfect in this game. This is a really tough game for us. They have been performing very well at home especially, very consistent, really good team, so for us the challenge is that we need to re-find our best form and we need to be mentally very strong.”
Relations between the two benches have been tense in recent times with Klopp, who had been unhappy with Newcastle’s game management, celebrating wildly after Carvalho’s last-ditch winner, and he was no less pleased by Nunez’s heroics on Tyneside.
However, the German was fulsome in his praise for the Magpies following their 1-0 victory over Manchester United at the start of December four days after their gruelling Champions League draw at Paris St Germain, and opposite number Howe insists the only competition is on the pitch.
He said: “I don’t think it’s me against Jurgen Klopp, it’s Liverpool against Newcastle and that’s how we have to look at this game.
“As I said earlier, we have to be very, very good in every aspect of our game because if there’s a weakness in your structure or in your set-up, then they will find it. They’ve got quality players.
“It’s always a great experience to go to Anfield, it’s always a brilliant arena to play in. For us, we learnt some painful lessons last year. Hopefully we can use that experience to good effect this time.”