NEWCASTLE United can take advantage of the expected absence of Luis Suarez from Liverpool’s starting XI at St James’s Park, according to Massadio Haidara.
The striker is facing a long ban for his bite on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic on Sunday.
Suarez will discover his fate today when a regulatory commission meets to consider the retrospective charge of violent conduct brought by the Football Association.
The controversial player – who has been outstanding for Liverpool this season – scored in the 1-1 draw between the two clubs at Anfield in November.
Suarez’s absence will be keenly felt by Brendan Rodgers’ side given his influence on the pitch this season.
And that’s a major bonus for Newcastle, who have beaten Liverpool at St James’s Park in the last two seasons.
“Suarez is definitely the difference for Liverpool,” Haidara (pictured) said.
“I think, without him, they will be a different team.
“He’s obviously the focal point for their attack. They do have other quality players as well, but if he isn’t playing, that will definitely be a positive thing for us.”
Rodgers – who loaned former Newcastle forward Andy Carroll to West Ham United – is short of strikers, though January signing Daniel Sturridge has impressed in a Liverpool jersey.
And Haidara, signed from Nancy in the last transfer window, is relishing the challenge ahead of him and his team-mates.
The 20-year-old, a powerful left-back, is quickly getting to grips with Premier League football, which he believes is far more attack-minded than France’s Ligue 1.
Haidara is expected to start again in the absence through injury of Davide Santon, who is sidelined with a hamstring problem.
“It’s a completely different style of game,” he said. “In France it’s a lot more tactical and defensively-focused.
“Here in the Premier League, it’s a lot more attacking. It’s a box-to-box style of play. The focus is really on moving forward. Playing game after game, I’m getting a lot more used to that.”
A win could be enough to guarantee Newcastle another season in the Premier League.
Alan Pardew’s team drew 1-1 with West Bromwich Albion at the weekend, and the point they claimed at The Hawthorns could prove an important one.
“I think it was a good point we took away, but we definitely had the chances to get a victory,” said Haidara.
“When you need points, you’ve just got to take every point that you possibly can.”