As the title race comes down to the wire, Liverpool will be hoping that their former manager Rafa Benitez doesn’t have a huge say in the outcome of their season.
It’s been a good run recently for Rafa’s men; The Toon have won five of their last 10 premier league outings with two draws and three losses. This includes winning two and drawing one in their last three matches, they stole a superb 1-0 win away at Leicester who had won four on the trot before Newcastle arrived to spoil the party. They cruised past Southampton at home before drawing with Brighton last time out. There has been plenty of plaudits for what Benitez has achieved this season with Newcastle and rightly so, on a shoe string budget he has got some excellent performances out of the players, the fans can only wonder quite how good they could be if Benitez was given the funds to bring in some top quality talent.
For The Reds it’s seven wins on the bounce but they may be coming here in slightly dull spirits. They were comfortably beaten in The Champions League by Barcelona and the title is out of their hands as Manchester City still lead the race by one point. However Klopp ill be drilling in the importance of this game, they are still in two huge competitions and it can all change very quickly. Liverpool’s only defeat this season came on the road, but other than that they have been excellent. Winning 12 and drawing five of their 18 matches. Newcastle have taken the majority of their points at home and the crowd will be as loud as ever, as the fans will be desperate to see their team get a memorable result here. Liverpool are of course the firm favourites at a price of 1.3, with Newcastle out at 9.0 to take all three points.
There is concern for Newcastle as it looks like Ayoze Perez may be unavailable after he hobbled off in the first half against Brighton last time out. The Spaniard has been electric in recent weeks and looks likely to pick up the player of the month award for April after scoring five times in his last three matches. The observant among you may realise that that is all of Newcastle’s goals across those games. If he is unable to start it’ll be Kenedy who comes in as his replacement and will play from the left hand side, which will slightly adjust the shape that the hosts have been operating. The Black and White Army are also likely to be without captain Jamaal Lascelles. They still have guaranteed absentees in the form of young starlet Sean Longstaff, centre half Florian Lejuene and record signing Miguel Almiron.
Liverpool lost Naby Keita to injury in the first half against Barcelona and it’s being reported that he could be out for up to a month; terrible news given a string of recent strong performances from the midfielder. Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold only made the bench in Spain but it looks as if they’ll both start here. With no Keita, Liverpool may lack the drive from midfield and the impotence will be on Gini Wijnaldum to provide that creative spark.
With his return to the squad looking likely I like the price of Roberto Firmino to score anytime at 2.6. I think with the way the two seems use their systems that the chances are more likely to fall centrally, with Mane and Salah acting slightly more as conventional wingers to cause the most upset to Newcastle’s three at the back system.
Newcastle have been in a great run of form but that has been largely down to the exploits of Ayoze Perez and I think without him they lack a certain dynamic that can make them very dangerous. Rondon is an excellent striker in terms of what he does but I imagine Van Dijk will marshal him careful and without the spark of Perez playing off him they become a bit one dimensional.
Liverpool absolutely have to win. All it takes is for City to draw one game and Liverpool could steal the title, they’ll be determined to put a difficult week behind them and regain some momentum before the second leg of The Champions League. I think a Liverpool win with a choice of over 1.5 or 2.5 goals is the best option here.
Liverpool win and over 1.5 goals @ 1.5
Roberto Firmino to score anytime @ 2.3
A goal scored in both halves @ 1.57