Liverpool v Newcastle Preview - Welcome Home, Rafa

Liverpool v Newcastle Preview - Welcome Home, Rafa

The Details

Venue – Anfield, Liverpool

Referee – Graham Scott

Date & Time – Saturday, March 3rd @ 17:30 GMT

AI Tees

Current Odds – Liverpool 1/5, Draw 6/1, West Ham 10/1

Form

Liverpool Form

Liverpool have been flying again as of late. The last three games have been a nice mix of professional performances (at Southampton, in particular) and the heavy metal attacking football we’ve been treated to for much of this season. FC Porto were destroyed on their home turf and last weekend West Ham had no answer to the questions Klopp’s Reds posed.

Liverpool have clicked back into form just at the right time as the season enters its final stretch. Ten league games to go and almost certainly into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Liverpool look like they could take on anyone, and win.

Newcastle United Form

Some fans have said that if Rafa can keep Newcastle up this season he deserves the Manager of the Year award. They may have a point. With the lack of support and transfer funds from Mike Ashley as he actively seeks a new owner for the club, Rafa has had to work in a very, very difficult environment, again. However, they have not lost since the defeat at Chelsea in the FA Cup in late January. Recently, they famously beat United 1-0 and should have won last weekend at Bournemouth, letting a two-goal lead slip in the last ten minutes of the game.

Team News

Liverpool Team News

Nathaniel Clyne is Liverpool’s only main injury concern with Gini Wijnaldum and Danny Ings also carrying slight knocks. Ings and Wijnaldum should be available for selection on Saturday, however.

It will be interesting to see if Klopp gives Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain another run in midfield. Milner has forced his way back into the first eleven since seizing on his rare opportunity in the Champions League tie in Porto. Joe Gomez might make a return at right-back while Klopp has a decision to make about whether to start with the recently-impressive Emre Can or club captain, Jordan Henderson at the base of the midfield.

Liverpool have no suspensions for this game.

Liverpool’s Top 3 Rated Players this season – (WhoScored.com – at least 10 appearances)

  1. M. Salah  ———-  7.73
  2. R. Firmino  ——-  7.45
  3. E. Can  ————  7.32

Newcastle United Team News

New signing, Islam Slimani, misses out with a thigh injury while Jesus Gamez is also out for Rafa’s Newcastle. Jonjo Shelvey will undergo a late fitness test after picking up a knee injury in the draw at Bournemouth last weekend.

Benitez regularly sets Newcastle up in a 4-4-1-1 shape and Saturday should be no different. Dwight Gayle will lead the line and he is their top scorer this season with five goals. Ayoze Perez will most likely be his support in the number ten role and Rafa will be hoping Shelvey is fit enough to take his place in the centre of the park. The ever-impressive Lascelles will marshal the Newcastle defence as per usual.

Newcastle have no suspensions for this game.

Newcastle’s Top 3 Rated Players this season – (WhoScored.com – at least 10 appearances)

  1. J. Lascelles  ——–  7.03
  2. M. Merino  ———  6.94
  3. Joselu  ————–  6.9

Predicted XIs

Liverpool XI (4-2-3-1) – Karius; Gomez, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson(c), Can, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mané

Newcastle United XI (4-4-1-1) – Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles(c), Lejeune, Dummett; Ritchie, Shelvey, Diamé, Kenedy; Perez; Gayle

When they last met

Newcastle held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw when the sides met at St James’ Park. Coutinho scored for the Reds and Joselu nabbed the equaliser. Their last meeting at Anfield was at the end of the 2015/16 season and it finished 2-2.

Prediction

Liverpool 2 – 0 Newcastle United

Rafa’s tactical nous may well throw a spanner in the works on Saturday but it will take a super-human effort from this Newcastle side to take anything from Anfield. Liverpool should have too much for them going forward and they have also improved at breaking down sides who have set up with a low block. Expect the Reds to win and keep a clean sheet in the process 🙂

** Please note – “xGA” in the Form Stats tables symbolises “expected goals against” **