Liverpool will be aiming to go to the top of the Premier League standings, when they take on Newcastle United, managed by former boss Rafael Benitez
The race for the Premier League title is going down to the wire. With only two matches left in the season, challengers Liverpool sit a point and a place below reigning champions and current leaders Manchester City and will be looking to knock them off their perch on Saturday, when they face off against Newcastle United at the St. James’ Park.
It has been quite the memorable season for Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s side have recorded their highest-ever points tally in Premier League history, but still find themselves marginally behind Pep Guardiola’s side in the standings. With the Cityzens scheduled to play Leicester City on Monday night, the Reds would see this as the perfect opportunity to open up a two-point lead and put their rivals under pressure.
However, Liverpool come into the game having seen their 19-game unbeaten streak across all competitions being halted. The Merseyside giants were beaten 3-0 by La Liga champions Barcelona in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-finals earlier this week and they will need to produce a strong reaction on Saturday.
Newcastle United, on the other hand, find themselves in the comforts of the mid-table, having successfully avoided a relegation scramble. The Magpies are currently stationed in the 13th spot and while a top-half finish is not possible, they will want to make the most of the remaining fixtures and finish higher up the table.
Rafael Benitez’s men are unbeaten in their last three matches, with their latest encounter ending in a 1-1 draw against relegation-battlers Brighton & Hove Albion. And, the Spaniard will not want to do any favours to his former employers and ensure that his side finish the season on a strong note.
Liverpool thrashed Newcastle United 4-0 the last time the two teams met on Boxing Day last year. And ahead of the upcoming encounter, which could have huge repercussions on the title race for the Reds, let’s take a closer look at both sets of teams.
Team News & Tactics
Ayoze Perez and Jamaal Lascelles have been passed fit for the Liverpool game, but right-back DeAndre Yedlin is unavailable. He joins January signing Miguel Almiron, Florian Lejeune and Sean Longstaff on the treatment tables for Newcastle United. Benitez will set his team up in a 5-4-1 formation against the title contenders.
Martin Dubravka is likely to be a busy man between the sticks for Newcastle. He will need all the protection he can get from the backline that will comprise of Javi Manquillo and Matt Ritchie as the full-backs on the right and left sides respectively, with Fabian Schar, Lascelles and Paul Dummett lining up as the three centre-halves.
Isaac Hayden is a guaranteed starter in the middle of the park and will be partnered by former Liverpool man Jonjo Shelvey, who will be key in launching attacks for Newcastle, with his range of distribution. The fit-again Perez will slot in on the right flank, while Kenedy should feature on the opposite wing and look to hurt Liverpool with his pace.
Upfront, the towering figure of Salomon Rondon will look to cause the Reds’ defence some problems with his strength and physicality.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie; Perez, Shelvey, Hayden, Kenedy; Rondon
Midfielder Naby Keita has seen his season come to a premature end after picking up an adductor injury in the midweek fixture against Barcelona. Roberto Firmino did not start against the Catalans and is unlikely to be risked again with the semi-final second leg right around the corner.
There are likely to be a few changes to the team that started at Camp Nou, with Trent Alexander-Arnold set to replace Joe Gomez at right-back, while Dejan Lovren should also come into the side in place of Joel Matip. Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson will complete the backline in front of goalkeeper Alisson Becker for Liverpool.
Captain Jordan Henderson did not start against Barcelona but had to play for a large chunk of the match owing to Keita’s injury. He should, however, feature from the kick-off against Newcastle on Saturday. Georginio Wijnaldum, who started in an advanced attacking role in the midweek, is likely to drop to the No. 6 position against his former club.
With Keita injured and James Milner having played almost the entire game earlier this week, the fit-again Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could make his first start of the season in midfield. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane should start in attack, although Firmino is likely to be held back again by Klopp, with Divock Origi set to start.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Origi, Mane
1. Newcastle United Asian Handicap + 1.5 @ 1.775
2. Under 2.5 Match Goals @ 2.10
1. Under 1.5 Match Goals @ 4.33
- Liverpool have won their last two Premier League games against Newcastle United – they haven’t won three in a row against them since a run of four between November 2007 and May 2009.
- Newcastle have won their last four home league matches in the month of May, scoring 13 goals and conceding just once.
- Liverpool have lost 10 away Premier League games against Newcastle, only losing more against Manchester United (16), Chelsea (14) and Tottenham (12).
- Newcastle’s Ayoze Perez has scored in three consecutive Premier League games, netting five goals in total. Indeed, he’s scored seven goals in his last seven games in the competition, as many as he had in his previous 33.
- Liverpool have won their last seven Premier League matches, scoring 20 goals and conceding five. The Reds are on the longest current unbeaten run in the Premier League (15 games, W11 D4).
Player to Watch
After a run of six Premier League games without a goal, Salah has found the back of the net on four occasions in his last four appearances in the competition. This run of form has led to him becoming the top-scorer in the English top-flight, one goal ahead of teammate Sadio Mane and Manchester City superstar Sergio Aguero.
With the title race running so close, Liverpool will need Salah firing on all cylinders in the next couple of games if they are to keep up the pressure on the reigning champions, while it would also help boost their goal difference, which could come into factor as well given how tight things are at the top of the table.
Newcastle United 0-2 Liverpool
With safety secured, Newcastle will enter the game with no pressure, but Rafa Benitez will certainly make things difficult for his former club. Liverpool, on the other hand, have everything to play for and cannot afford to slip up at this juncture. The impending semi-final second leg against Barcelona is sure to play on their minds, but the Reds will need to focus on the task at hand against Newcastle.
The Magpies have a solid home record against the Merseysiders recently and they will set out with a defensive mindset, which will make them hard to break down. However, Liverpool’s attacking riches should help them pick up an important win at the St. James’ Park, that would put them on top of the Premier League standings.