Newcastle Value in Anfield Battle
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1pt e.w. Pavel Progrebnyak to score first v QPR at 15/2 (Paddy Power 1/3 1,2,3,4,5).
2pts Newcastle (draw no bet) to beat Liverpool at 4/1 (Coral).
QPR v Reading (1330)
The only two sides yet to win in the Premier League this season face off at Loftus Road and it's the home side who are considered most likely to get off the mark. But while my initial instinct was to suggest QPR will edge this game, backing a side in their position at 5/6 rather defies logic, especially when you recall Reading's Capital One Cup victory here earlier in the season. Of course, that competition dealt the Royals a bitter and exhausting blow on Tuesday but with plenty of time to recover, it's to be hoped that Brian McDermott can pick his squad up off the floor and ready them for what looks a crucial game, and certainly one they can win. QPR are really struggling for goals and while Reading have hardly been prolific so far, we all saw what they can do against Arsenal. With that in mind, I do expect them to create chances and 9/2 about Jobi McAnuff creating a goal is a good bet for those with Boylesports accounts. He's provided the assist for four of Reading's 11 goals so far this season and with Pavel Pogrebnyak to supply, that tally could well increase. However, we'll be rather more straightforward and have a small bet on the Russian scoring first. He's bagged five goals already this season, including the winner here in the League Cup, and at 15/2 looks good value. Bet365 go 4/1 about him scoring Reading's first goal but given QPR's clear attacking issues I'm prepared to take a bigger chance.
Verdict: QPR 1 Reading 1
Liverpool v Newcastle (1600)
It's time to sound like a broken record again, so apologies to those of you who know the drill. Liverpool are 12th in the Barclays Premier League. They've won one of five home games, and have also been beaten at Anfield in both the Capital One Cup and the Europa League. It's a trend that goes back to last season, when they won less than a third of their home games - having been good for at least 12 since 2004, they managed just six. Come the end of the season, that's why they finished three places and 13 points behind Newcastle. And yet here we are again, with Liverpool quoted at 4/7, genuinely one of the worst value prices you'll see all season (except for almost all other Liverpool games). Now, this isn't to say they can't or won't win, nor is it the fault of Brendan Rodgers or any member of the Liverpool staff. But it does mean that all we have to do here is decide how to back Newcastle because if you oppose Liverpool at home with any half-decent side, you'll end up in front. And Newcastle are more than half decent. After all, they're two places and three points ahead of Liverpool and arrive looking for their third consecutive win in all competitions. It must be noted that they're winless on the road, but draws at Everton and Sunderland show that they're more than able travellers, and while their record at Anfield is poor, that's more than factored in to all markets and is a fine example of how historical evidence can become virtually irrelevant. Demba Ba is only rated '50-50' by Alan Pardew but in Papiss Cisse the Newcastle manager knows he has a striker he can rely on, and if the visitors can keep Luis Suarez quiet then that's half the battle won. Newcastle can be backed at 4/1 in Coral's 'draw no bet' market and that's a ridiculous price, so we'll have a decent wager. If you do want to side with Liverpool, back Suarez at 100/30 to score their first goal because he's probably closer to a 2/1 chance, but we're firmly in the away camp here.
Verdict: Liverpool 0 Newcastle 1