Shay Given risks wrath of Liverpool fans with outrageous claim ‘only two’ Reds stars good enough for Newcastle
Former Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given feels only two Liverpool players would get into the Magpies starting XI on current form.
Nine points and five places separate the two clubs but, unusually, it is the Tynesiders who hold sway. Eddie Howe’s side sit fourth in the Premier League standings, with 41 points from 22 games played. Having been one of the dominant teams in recent history, the Reds find themselves languishing in ninth.
The Anfield giants have won just nine top-flight games and lost seven already. They are now struggling to finish in the top four while St James’ Park could see Champions League football next term.
It has been a monumental turnaround at the north-east club, with significant funds available used wisely.
And it is for that reason that Given believes all but a couple of Jurgen Klopp’s stars would fail to make it into the Newcastle team.
“Only two Liverpool players would get into my combined XI – Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah,” he told LeoVegas, via Liverpool Echo.
“It’s mad what’s happening with Liverpool. Last season we were talking about them doing the quadruple and suggesting that they were one of the best teams ever.
“You wonder how they’ve fallen off a cliff so much, they’re a mid-table side now.”
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Given made 462 appearances for the Magpies. And it is clear he rates those currently plying their trade in the north east highly.
“Alisson is a brilliant keeper, but Nick Pope gets the nod for all his clean sheets this season,” he added.
“I’d have [Kieran] Trippier at right-back, who’s having a great season. Virgil van Dijk and Sven Botman would be my centre-backs, with Dan Burn, on current form, at left-back.”
Given gives Salah the nod
Newcastle host Liverpool, on Saturday evening and will hope to get back to winning ways. Howe’s charges have lost just one league game all season but have drawn 11.
Indeed they have drawn five of their past six having won six straight matches earlier in the campaign.
However, Given still feels that those in black and white are superior to their Merseyside counterparts.
“Their midfielders are all struggling currently, so I’d have Joelinton, Joe Willock, and Bruno Guimaraes,” he added.
“At the other end of the pitch, I’d go with Mohamed Salah on the right side, Callum Wilson up top, and Anthony Gordon on the left.”
“I know 90% of the team is Newcastle players, but on current form, I think it’s correct.”
Newcastle now have transfer edge
Newcastle have been on an upward curve ever since the Saudi-backed takeover. They are set to take on Manchester United in the EFL Cup final at Wembley on February 26.
Victory would see the fans celebrate a trophy for the first time since 1955. But Given is adamant that they already hold an advantage over Klopp’s side when it comes ot transfer dealings.
“If Newcastle finished in the top four at the end of the campaign, they could definitely attract players over Liverpool”, he said.
“I know whenever people say this that Liverpool fans start getting tribal, but at the same time, I think the trajectory of Newcastle is only going one way.
“I can’t speak higher of Eddie Howe and his staff and their recruitment. If they can add to that in the summer, I think a lot of players would want to join them. It’s a hugely exciting place to be right now.
“If they can offer Champions League, and Liverpool can’t, then I think they will hold bigger pull over players than them.”