Resurgent Liverpool look unstoppable at the moment with four wins on the bounce, but Newcastle United are coming to Anfield feeling equally confident following their morale-boosting point against Manchester City that will be a huge incentive in their relegation battle.
Even with the form they are currently in, the Reds themselves probably did not expect the Merseyside derby to go that easy for them. Truth be told, Jurgen Klopp’s charges did have the upper hand with the fact Everton played with ten men for much of the second half, but four goals in the Toffees’ net is bound to have a huge impact on team’s morale ahead of the season’s super finish. With one eye on the UEFA Europa League semi-finals against Villarreal, Liverpool now prepare to play host to relegation struggling Newcastle who are headed by the Reds’ former manager Rafa Benitez. The Spaniard is sure to be in for a warm welcome back at Anfield, but there will be no room for emotions as Liverpool plan to close the campaign on the high and aim for their fifth win in a row. Jurgen Klopp’s men are in excellent scoring form as they have hit 14 goals in last four matches. Dortmund come-from-behind win was particularly impressive as it gave the unhuman strength to the players who now feel that anything is possible. Sitting seventh in the Premier League, Reds will have slim chances of grabbing European football through the league table, so Europa League remains their greatest chance of securing the UEFA Champions League.
Jurgen Klopp will be sweating over the fitness of Divock Origi, who suffered an injuiry against Everton. The blow was not as terrible as it was first believed and the in-form Belgian has only sprained his ankle, but should be rested against the Magpies.
Daniel Sturridge is up for the challenge as both strikers are enjoying an improved run of form. England forward has scored his 50th goal for Liverpool and is keen to build up on the milestone. Usual players are in the treatment room as Ings, Gomez, Henderson, Can and Benteke remain ruled out with their respective injuries.
Four points from their last two Premier League matches have given the Newcastle fans plenty of optimism in the relegation battle. The comprehensive 3-0 home win over Swansea was followed by the hard-fought point against Manchester City and it is now up to Benitez’s Magpies to try to improve their away form in order to make an important step forward in their survival bid. Four defeats on the spin do not go in their favour, but Newcastle United are determined to make their efforts worthwhile against the club whose focus will be elsewhere. If anyone knows how to beat Liverpool than it is the man who served the club during its glorious years and there is no doubt that Rafa Benitez will share no emotions as he gets trying to beat his former club. Newcastle have been demonstrating commending commitment and discipline in their last couple of games, but their desperate and in moments embarrassing on-the-road form could prove to be the greatest stumbling block against in-form Reds. Having survived Manchester City, Magpies are now in line for another high-profile game but we tend to believe their salvation points lie elsewhere. Newcastle are playing struggling Crystal Palace at home next week before making a trip to relegated Aston Villa and these two games should be considered crucial before the home ground season-wrapper vs Tottenham.
Rafa Benitez is faced with a long list of injured players at the crucial part of the season. Tim Krul, Massadio Haidara, Kevin Mbabu and Fabricio Coloccini are all ruled out and could be sorely missed at Anfield.
Aleksandar Mitrovic is likely to return to the starting line-up ahead of Papiss Cisse as the Serbian forward managed an assist for Anita in the Manchester City game.
Key Factors to Consider
- Liverpool have lost only one of their last 10 matches
- Klopp’s men have notched up four straight victories in all competitions
- Reds scored the impressive tally of 14 goals in last 4 games
- Newcastle United have lost nine of their last 10 away fixtures
- Magpies have been defeated in 9 of their last 10 trips to Anfiled
Newcastle United are keen to exercise the great escape and save themselves from relegation, but their salvation points should be looked somewhere else as Liverpool are heading into the match in great form. It is hard to see this game end differently than Liverpool claiming maximum three points as the visitors have nothing to boast with out of their home ground.
Verdict: Home win