Can Eddie Howe end Klopp's perfect December record with Liverpool?

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have not lost in their last 33 December matches but Eddie Howe was the last man to beat the Reds in the festive month… so, can the Newcastle boss spring a surprise at Anfield tonight?

  • Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 33 Premier League matches in December 
  • Jurgen Klopp’s last December loss came at Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth in 2016
  • Howe will take his lowly Newcastle side to title-chasing Liverpool on Thursday
  • Sportsmail looks at how the Magpies boss can cause another shock with Klopp 

Jurgen Klopp enjoys getting in the Christmas spirit in December. When games come thick and fast in a period that defines Liverpool’s title challenge, the German delivers as regularly as Father Christmas this time of year.

The Reds are unbeaten in their last 33 matches in December, winning 26 of those games in the festive month. So much for Klopp’s complaints about fixture congestion – Liverpool thrive from the crowded schedule of a match every three days.

But if Klopp is the Santa Claus of festive football then Thursday night’s opposite number Eddie Howe has history of being the Grinch. Howe was the last manager to beat Klopp’s Liverpool in December – a 4-3 win as Bournemouth boss in 2016. 

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have gone 33 Premier League matches in December without losing

Liverpool’s last December defeat came via a 4-3 loss to Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth in 2016

The Liverpool side who collapsed from 3-1 down in that encounter five years ago was a far cry from the title-chasing outfit we know today. 

Mohamed Salah was not at the club yet, Dejan Lovren partnered Lucas Leiva at centre half that afternoon and Trent Alexander-Arnold was merely a promising youngster rather than a first-team regular. 

Furthermore, the task of going to Anfield as Newcastle boss and picking up a win is much greater for Howe this time around. Despite the history of this Premier League fixture – notably the 4-3 title thriller in 1996 – a Magpies win on Thursday would be a major shock. 

Can Howe (middle) spring another surprise as he takes his Newcastle side to Anfield

Liverpool are unbeaten at home this season, while Newcastle are yet to pick up three points on the road. The Reds have won five on the bounce, while Howe’s side are fresh off a 4-0 thrashing at Leicester, with one win in 16 games all season.

But Howe can take confidence from the fact he is the only manager in the division who has beaten Klopp in December. 

Stranger things have happened in football, so Sportsmail looks at how Newcastle can hurt Liverpool ahead of Thursday’s Anfield clash… 


Newcastle may be out of form – they have been all season to be fair – but that isn’t to say they don’t have quality capable of hurting Klopp’s title chasers. 

Callum Wilson, who scored a penalty in Bournemouth’s win over Liverpool five years ago, will play a key role as a focal point up front to relieve pressure on the rest of the squad who are likely to be in defensive mode. 

But perhaps the key figure will be Allan Saint-Maximin, who is likely to turn out on Newcastle’s left with Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold in front of him. 

Allan Saint-Maximin could be a key figure for Newcastle down the left hand side on Thursday

The Reds right-back’s attacking game is excellent but still has problems in his defensive game. While he is normally used to being relatively untroubled at Anfield due to Liverpool facing defensive-minded opponents at home, there have been signs of struggles going backwards for the England international. 

During Brighton’s 2-2 draw at Liverpool back in October, Seagulls winger Leandro Trossard enjoyed a lot of joy down the Reds’ right-hand side, being a constant threat in the first-half before scoring from that wing after half-time. 

Meanwhile, all of Manchester City’s major chances in their 2-2 draw at Anfield came down Liverpool’s right, with Phil Foden staying high and proving to be a major threat on the break – advice that Saint-Maximin could use himself on Thursday. 

And as Brentford showed in their 3-3 draw with the Reds in the previous month, overloading Alexander-Arnold’s side of the pitch can lead to a lot of success, with two out of the Bees’ three goals in the second half coming from challenging the Liverpool right-back aerially. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold  (left) is exceptional going forwards but is still suspect defensively

And Saint-Maximin has already shown Alexander-Arnold he can be a threat at Anfield. During April’s 1-1 draw between the two teams, former boss Steve Bruce targeted balls through Liverpool’s right-hand side to create chances.

In the first-half of the game, Sean Longstaff bypassed the Liverpool backline on that side and went clear for a one-on-one but fluffed his lines with the finish. In the second period, Saint-Maximin peeled off Alexander-Arnold to play Wilson through on goal. The Newcastle striker scored but had his effort chalked off for handball.

Should Alexander-Arnold remain defensive unstable, the Magpies will get chances on Thursday night and they have the perfect winger in Saint-Maximin to exploit this.


Newcastle boss Howe gave a hint of how his side will play against Liverpool on Thursday – by pressing the Reds’ midfield and looking to turn over the ball well in the middle of the park. 

‘I believe we have players who can hurt them,’ Howe told his pre-match press conference this week. ‘On transitions we are a real threat. We will have a game plan and we will be ready to perform.’

Howe (middle) has hinted that transitions in midfield is how Newcastle can best hurt Liverpool

Even though Liverpool do have holes in the wider areas, the middle of the park is not so invincible either.

Brighton used turnovers in midfield to hurt Liverpool in their draw two months ago. Yves Bissouma broke clear in the first-half after winning the ball in midfield, before striking the post via the finger tips of goalkeeper Alisson Becker. 

In fact, Liverpool do not like midfielders driving at them in the middle of the pitch. Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus both cut inside on a regular basis during October’s Anfield draw and caused havoc in that particular game. 

And Newcastle have the perfect industrious player in Joe Willock to drive at Liverpool’s middle men – with the 22-year-old possessing a good record at Anfield in terms of goals.

Joe Willock (left) scored against Liverpool back in April and is good at progressing in midfield

Willock’s (second left) direct running also got him a goal for Arsenal in the 2019 Carabao Cup

Willock’s direct running earned him a stunning solo goal and finish during Arsenal’s 5-5 Carabao Cup draw with the Reds in September 2019, a clear example of how the midfielder can join the likes of Bissouma in hurting Liverpool.

And the former Arsenal midfielder scored a late equaliser in Newcastle’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool back in April by finding enough space in midfield to find another finish. 

After starring on loan last season at St James’ Park, Willock has yet to find the net for Newcastle since making a £25million permanent switch from Arsenal. This could be his chance to reignite his Magpies career.  


Keeping it tight defensive may be stating the obvious, but there is a certain emphasis on that instruction when travelling to a high-flying Liverpool side. 

Klopp’s side have a knack of punishing even the smallest of errors this season, which is why Howe has been talking about bringing an ‘A-game’ to Anfield this Thursday. 

Free-scoring Liverpool have won their last five games and can punish defensive mistakes 

‘Having a solid back line and defensive shape is going to be key in this match,’ Howe told his press conference ahead of the trip to Liverpool. 

‘We have to make sure our organisation is at the highest level, because if it’s not Liverpool will find a hole in that.’

Arsenal found out how ruthless Liverpool can be in punishing mistakes when defender Nuno Tavares gifted the ball to Diogo Jota in his own half, before the Portuguese winger scored a solo goal to put the game past the Gunners. 

Aston Villa had a good defensive game last week but Tyrone Mings (back) conceded a penalty

Last weekend, Aston Villa played the perfect defensive game bar a couple of errors that the Reds either did, or nearly, punish.

In the first-half, Marvelous Nakamba took too many touches in midfield and was caught by Liverpool’s pressing pack. A loose ball fell to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who fired just over from distance.

And when Tyrone Mings was caught wrongside of Salah after half-time, the Villa defender had to bring down the Egyptian to force a penalty, which the Liverpool No 11 dispatched for the winner. 

Newcastle come into Thursday night’s clash fresh off a 4-0 thrashing at a pressing Leicester

Howe’s side keeping a clean sheet will be difficult given they have only kept one clean sheet all season.    

At Leicester last weekend, they were pressed high up the pitch far too easily for the Foxes’ first goal before crumbling in the second period in the 4-0 thrashing. 

But there are plenty of opportunities for the Magpies to take the game to Liverpool – and with the two Manchester clubs visiting St James’ Park after Thursday’s clash at Anfield, Howe needs something to smile about in a tricky winter schedule.  

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