Take Magpies to sink Reds
Our Andy Schooler feels Newcastle are a good price to beat Liverpool in this evening's live Premier League game.
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The Magpies host Brendan Rodgers' men, who will be without the suspended Luis Suarez, in the televised evening game but before then there are five other top-flight matches.
The action all kicks off with Manchester City taking on West Ham in their first game since losing their status as Premier League champions to Manchester United.
- 2pts Newcastle to beat Liverpool at 85/40 (Stan James) - Strong at home and Liverpool are sure to miss Suarez.
- 2pts Stoke to beat Norwich at 23/20 (BetVictor, Betfred, totesport) - Stoke will take more out of their win last week than Norwich, who struggle on the road.
- 1pt Man City and West Ham to draw at 21/4 (BetVictor) - Man City could be deflated and have little to play for while the Hammers arrive in good spirits.
- 2.2pts Southampton to beat West Brom at 10/11 (General) - Saints are in good form while the Baggies' season is fizzling out.
Manchester City v West Ham (1245 BST)
Manchester City's limp title defence officially ended on Monday night when their neighbours sealed glory with four games to spare - so there's not really anything for Roberto Mancini's men to play for ahead of Saturday's clash with West Ham. Even winning their five remaining matches won't salvage much pride given how easy they've allowed United to reclaim the domestic crown this season and it won't mask the bitter disappointment of their failure to kick on from last year's remarkable finale and establish themselves as top dogs. Playing for second spot - which is surely theirs anyway - is hardly a burning motivation either so I'm expecting a rather damp squib league campaign to fittingly fizzle out meekly prior to the FA Cup final against Wigan. Sure, you could argue West Ham's players will be already be looking ahead to the summer holidays now that survival is pretty much assured but Sam Allardyce's side have been in decent form of late and twice led Manchester United in a 2-2 draw at Upton Park prior to last Saturday's 2-0 victory over Wigan. The Hammers are unbeaten in their five games - a run which includes creditable away draws at Liverpool and Southampton - and Big Sam will urge his side to maintain the momentum. City's home record is obviously strong - albeit not quite as formidable as last season - but the visitors should be worth backing at 21/4 with BetVictor to sneak a point.
Verdict: Manchester City 1 West Ham 1 (CH)
Everton v Fulham (1500)
One of the more remarkable football statistics is that Fulham have never won a league match at Goodison Park. This will be their 25th attempt but it's hard to make a strong case for them ending the hoodoo after 64 years of trying. The Cottagers, with just three wins on their travels, have scored just once in their last four matches with Dimitar Berbatov seemingly heading back into one of his quiet spells following a recent run where he looked unplayable. Steve Sidwell is suspended - again - and he'll be missed against what is always a physical Everton midfield. The Toffees must pick themselves up after a disappointing loss at Sunderland all but ended their European hopes. That loss could be put down to a silly Leighton Baines error though and one of boss David Moyes' greatest traits is his ability to get his men back up for games after such a result. With Liverpool still breathing down their neck, Everton still have something to play for so expect a reaction. Moyes' men were by far the better side in the reverse fixture and should have been out of sight by the time Fulham equalised in injury time. Back on home turf they should get it right this time but a best price of 8/15 mean they are acca fodder only.
Verdict: Everton 2 Fulham 0 (AS)
Southampton v West Brom (1500)
Despite all the controversy at the time, there can now be little doubt the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino as Southampton boss back in January has paid off as the Saints hold their heads well above water heading into the closing stages of the season and I feel they look a safe bet to chalk up another victory on Saturday. Although Nigel Adkins must also take his fair share of the credit for laying the foundations before somewhat cruelly being sacked, Southampton seem to have found another gear since the Argentine's arrival and a run of three wins and three draws in their last six games has all but sealed another season of Premier League football. The goalless draw at Swansea last weekend was drab to say the least but we can expect a more entertaining display from Pochettino's side at St Mary's, where they have beaten Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City during the second half of the campaign. Although West Brom still hold a lofty position of eighth in the table, their season is showing signs of tailing off having picked up just two points from the previous four outings and it's tough to regain form at such a late stage when there's nothing to play for. The hosts are no bigger than 10/11 for victory but they shouldn't let you down.
Verdict: Southampton 3 West Brom 1 (CH)
Stoke v Norwich (1500)
Having picked out Stoke to win at QPR last week, I'm happy to stick with the Potters for this one. Regular readers will know my opinion of Norwich isn't too high. Lacking both a real playmaker and a serious goalscorers, they don't look to have many goals in them and have been vulnerable away from Carrow Road, picking up just one win from 17 games. Last week they did manage a crucial victory, one which eases the pressure in the relegation battle of which they are now on the fringes. However, a 2-1 success over rock-bottom Reading was far from convincing and Stoke, reinvigorated by their much-needed win at Loftus Road, will fancy their chances here. The Potters may have been dragged into the relegation scrap themselves in recent weeks but they've remained hard to beat at the Britannia with only four games lost there this season. 23/20 about a home victory seems fair enough, with those wanting a bit more could take the 14/5 about a one-goal victory. Four of Stoke's six home wins have come this way and with both teams finding goals hard to come by, 1-0 could also be considered at 6/1.
Verdict: Stoke 1 Norwich 0 (AS)
Wigan v Tottenham (1500)
Both these sides were boosted by tactical substitutions last weekend, albeit Tottenham managed to turn their game around whereas Wigan did not. Tom Huddlestone proved a real game-changer for Spurs against Manchester City and Roberto Martinez will be wary of his passing skills ahead of this one. However, on a positive note for Wigan, beaten at West Ham last week, Jordi Gomez and James McArthur both shone in the second half at Upton Park where Wigan were much improved after a disappointing opening. In many ways, that's Wigan summed up under Martinez - you never know what you are going to get and I'm always wary of getting involved in their games. Both sides are desperate for points for differing reasons. The head says Spurs' extra quality should shine through - especially with Aaron Lennon set to return - but as a good a result as victory over City was, for the majority of that game they struggled and for long periods it looked like it would be one win in eight for them, so I'm not keen on a price of 21/20. Wigan are offered at 14/5 but they are only for the brave. I'll swerve.
Verdict: Wigan 1 Tottenham 2 (AS)
Newcastle v Liverpool (1730)
Newcastle look a good price here at more than 2/1. They've won nine matches at home this season - as many as fifth-placed Tottenham. Spurs are among those victims, as are Chelsea, so adding a Liverpool side shorn of its main source of goals, Luis Suarez, will not hold any fears. Admittedly Newcastle's last match at St James' Park was a bit of a shocker - they lost 3-0 to local rivals Sunderland - but they came back strongly from that display last weekend at West Brom where they created plenty of chances and really should have won. Papiss Cisse is in good form with five goals in his last nine games and also looks a tempting prospect to score at any time in this game at 9/4. He was one of the stars in this fixture last season when Newcastle won 2-0. However, I'm going to stick with the simply option of backing a home win. It looks a good price. For those who point out that Liverpool (with Suarez) have only lost five times in 17 away games, I also find 6/5 in the draw-no-bet market perfectly acceptable.
Verdict: Newcastle 3 Liverpool 1 (AS)