Tommy Smith: Fernando Torres can steal the headlines for Liverpool FC at Newcastle
THE crazy goings on at Newcastle this week have dominated the sports headlines around the country. But all the words will count for nothing at 5.30pm tonight.
Because when we kick off against them, it will all be about the players on the pitch, not managers past and present, player mutinies or rebel fans at St James Park.
And I'm backing us to come out on top.
Were it not for all the controversy up there this week, we might have heard a bit more about the two main strikers on either side.
The Geordies have been getting increasingly excited about young Andy Carroll.
He does carry a goal threat and we'll have to be on our toes at the back for 90 minutes to deal with him. He's good in the air, fairly quick and will chase down everything.
But provided we keep tabs on him, I'd let Newcastle worry about our centre forward rather than be too concerned with their man.
Fernando Torres will be back after missing the Villa game. And due respect to Carroll, who is still learning the game, I know which one of the two I'd far rather have in my side firing the bullets.
Torres will be fresh and rested after attending the birth of his second child - and I suspect raring to go at a ground and against a team where we have traditionally fared extremely well.
Last time we were up there two seasons ago we put five past Newcastle, before hitting another three past them at Anfield.
Torres is a truly world class striker and if we can get him in, he can be the big difference.
He'll be itching to get back on the goal trail too after missing those chances last time at Spurs.
For me, Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan - both scousers - offer Newcastle's biggest threat. But the way we've been playing, even without Stevie Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, we're well capable of handling them too, I believe.
The way is clear for Torres to take the headlines now. And I've a sneaky feeling he just might.
Dirk Kuyt's words are a hint at shape of things to come
IT was interesting to read Dirk Kuyt talking about recent improvements in the shape of the Liverpool team.
Roy Hodgson it seems has always had a reputation for trying to set sides up right in this sense - and Kuyt's words suggest the players are beginning to understand just what the manager wants and expects.
You can have all the ability in the world in a side but unless everyone knows their job and understands their position, then you can still have problems getting the best out of them as a collective unit.
Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan were all men with great football brains who recognised gifted players. But they also knew how important discipline and shape was to the great Liverpool teams they built. We all had to know our roles clearly. They spelled it out to us and insisted - often in really simple terms - that we concentrate on carrying out what they wanted from us.
I well remember Shanks once telling me he wanted me to be Ron Yeats 'right leg' in defence and it was a thought that stuck with me out there while I was playing and helped me know where to be at any given time.
I've no doubt the recent improvement in the Reds form and results has in part been down to a good balance and shape to the team that's now starting to emerge.
Liverpool FC's enduring TV appeal
When the year ends Liverpool will have been shown live on TV in 12 out of their last 14 games. That shows you the interest in and genuine world wide appeal of Liverpool Football Club.
Our last two home league games have given everyone good value for money too, with 3-0 wins over West Ham and Aston Villa. My only regret is that we should have gone on to get more goals against both of them.
Three and four nil wins are great for confidence but if you keep your foot down and hit five, six or seven, then people really do sit up and take notice.
I'd love to see us turn these comfortable victories into big thrashings soon - particularly with the world watching so regularly!