Newcastle United v Liverpool, Premier League

Mo Salah has shrugged off questions over his form to successfully lead Liverpool's attack

Éanna Atkinson looks forward to this weekend’s Premier League Clash between Newcastle & Liverpool at St. James’ Park, Saturday 4 May, 7:45pm KO

Form:

Liverpool come to St. James’ Park on Saturday evening on their quest for a first League Title in 29 years, and in red-hot form domestically.

The Reds have won their last 7 league games, scoring 20 goals and conceding only 5. They have incredibly only lost one PL game all season, incidentally to league leaders Man City.

They do however have to quickly recover from their 3-0 midweek defeat by the hands of the Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona in the Nou Camp. Liverpool preformed quite well in the game itself it has to be said, but they were picked apart by Messi’s brilliance.

Newcastle, who are now safe from relegation, are in quite good form themselves. The Magpies drew last time out away to relegation-threatened Brighton, but before that they had impressive victories at home to Southampton and away to Leicester.

On Saturday evening though, there is no doubt that they will be well up against it as Liverpool showed in the corresponding fixture at Anfield on St. Stephen’s Day. Liverpool hammered Newcastle 4-0 on that occasion.

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The Match:

The way Liverpool are playing at the moment, it is very difficult to see anything but a comfortable Reds victory at St. James’ Park on Saturday evening. They are scoring for fun and I think that Newcastle’s back four will find it impossible to cope with Liverpool’s dynamic trio of Salah, Firmino and Mané. Firmino, who had been nursing an injury, only came on late in the Barcelona game and Liverpool missed the Brazilian leading the line for them.

Gini Wijnaldum played in a more advanced role during the week but you can expect him to revert to his more natural central midfield role with Firmino likely to return to the starting lineup.

Rafa Benitez will no doubt try to stifle this free-scoring Liverpool side by playing a defensive game and then trying to hit Liverpool on the break, with Salomon Rondon leading the line and the in-form Ayoze Perez, who will try to pick holes in Liverpool’s back four.

Rondon is a handful, but he is the sort of player that Virgil Van Dijk thrives when playing against. Rondon is a big powerful target man but I think Van Dijk has the physical attributes to cope with him with the help of his much improved central defence partner Joel Matip, who despite the result was impressive during the week.

Along with Liverpool’s outstanding front three, their attacking full-backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been excellent all season. Between them they have a remarkable 19 assists in the PL alone (Robertson: 10, Alexander-Arnold: 9), which shows how much fellow PL sides have struggled to cope with these two. Jurgen Klopp raised some eyebrows during the week when he chose to play the more defensive minded Joe Gomez at right back in the Champions League, but I expect to see Alexnader-Arnold in the starting 11 on Saturday.

Team News:

For Liverpool, Naby Keita has been ruled out for the rest of the season after he suffered a serious injury early on in the game at the Nou Camp. This means that Jurgen Klopp will now choose from Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Milner, Henderson and the fit again Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the three midfield positions. With Firmino looking likely to return, the rest of this Liverpool team picks itself, which shows their consistency this season. Adam Lallana is the only other doubt for this game.

Almirón, Lejeune and Longstaff are all out for the rest of the season for Newcastle. Rafa Benitez is also sweating over the fitness of key players Ayoze Perez (hip) and Jamaal Lascelles (stomach illness) who he hopes will be fit for this tough test on Saturday evening. Both players were pictured in training this week so they are likely to feature. Widespread changes aren’t expected with Newcastle on a three-match unbeaten run and with Saturday’s match potentially having a big say in the title race.

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Verdict:

This is an absolute must-win for Liverpool if they want to apply pressure on Man City, who don’t play until Monday night against Leicester, and I think the Reds will oblige.

I feel that Liverpool can win this game comfortably so Liverpool -1 appears to be good value @ 10/11.

Mo Salah seems to be getting back to his best with 4 goals in his last 4 Premier League games, so I fancy him to get the first goal, which is priced @ 3/1.



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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article