Liverpool have to win to keep the pressure on Manchester City, but Tom Carnduff thinks Newcastle could disrupt the Premier League title race.
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Newcastle v Liverpool
- St. James' Park, 1945 BST, Sky Sports Main Event
The title is out of Liverpool's hands and they'll be hoping that Manchester City will slip-up in one of their two final games.
They have an opportunity to put the pressure back on their rivals though given City's game on Monday night. In Newcastle though, they take on a side who have been very impressive in front of their own supporters.
Rafa Benitez's men have won six of their last seven league games at St. James' Park, which includes success over Manchester City at the end of January.
The Reds will be hopeful that their former manager doesn't throw a spanner into the works and give City the opportunity to win the title, which would all-but sealed on Monday given the goal difference situation.
However, Newcastle's home form has been excellent and they've already shown that they can beat the very best. The Reds have a dilemma to face regarding the Champions League too.
While a 3-0 deficit would usually mean the tie is over, Liverpool will still hold some form of optimism given their performance at Camp Nou. The fact remains though that they will have to play full strength on both occasions given the time of the season.
There's still uncertainty regarding the future of Benitez and Newcastle with his contract up in the summer. The Toon Army are desperate for him to stay given the impact he's made and a strong finish to the season will only reiterate his point for transfer funds to spend in the next window.
While Liverpool will see the majority of possession, Newcastle do have the ability to steal the ball from the opposition and they will have to rely upon that trait if they are to catch the title hopefuls out.
In all honesty, it has the feel of a similar game to the one against Man City in January. Liverpool and City share a lot of the same characteristics and it could play into United's hands.
We've seen this Newcastle team comfortable with taking shots from distance and they're not afraid to play long balls, which is what may be resorted to in order to beat the Liverpool press.
Van Dijk will need to be at his usual best in order to prevent those long balls and crosses into the box, while Salomon Rondon will likely be his main focus, Ayoze Perez could be problematic as he looks to play off Newcastle's main striker.
I was surprised in a way to see how big the home side's price was for this game. That means above 2/1 is available across the ball in the double chance market in their favour.
It's not as if they've been handed six easy fixtures during this run. Newcastle have had to endure tough tests against those battling relegation, alongside beating sides in-form at the time such as Burnley and Everton.
Of course, there was the win over City too. They had 24% possession that day and two shots on target, both of which found the net. The stats were all in favour of the away side but Benitez's men executed a plan to perfection.
That is alongside the fact that they had to come back after Sergio Aguero scored within the opening minute. It was a perfect day, and given an intimidating St. James' Park crowd, they have the potential to repeat that and virtually bring to an end the Premier League title race.
Combine that with Newcastle being one of the Premier League's form sides too. Only Liverpool have boasted more home wins in the second part of the season. Liverpool also join Tottenham in being the only two with more home points over the same period.
When it comes to goals scored at home, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City are the only trio who can beat Newcastle's tally. For goals conceded, it's title favourites City and Tottenham who have conceded fewer in front of their own supporters.
Don't write off Newcastle in this contest. This Liverpool side are one of the Premier League's greats, but that doesn't mean they're untouchable.
Score prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Liverpool (Sky Bet odds: 8/1)
Best bet: Newcastle/Draw (Double Chance) at 12/5
- Newcastle United have only lost one of their last seven home Premier League games against Liverpool (0-6 in April 2013), winning four and drawing the other two.
- Liverpool have won their last two Premier League games against Newcastle – they haven’t won three in a row against them since a run of four between November 2007 and May 2009.
- Liverpool have lost 10 away Premier League games against Newcastle, only losing more against Man Utd (16), Chelsea (14) and Spurs (12).
- Newcastle have won their last four home league matches in the month of May, scoring 13 goals and conceding just once.
- Newcastle have won six of their last seven Premier League home games, netting at least twice in each victory (L1).
- 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).
- Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has only faced Birmingham City (8) more often in the Premier League without winning than he has versus former side Liverpool (P5 W0 D3 L2).
- 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.
- After a run of six Premier League games without a goal, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has scored four in his last four in the competition.
- Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson has provided 11 Premier League assists this season – no defender has ever supplied more in a single campaign in the competition. The Scotsman has provided the most assists of any player not to score themselves in the Premier League this season.