26th April 2013
Relegation-threatened Newcastle United are hoping the absence of Luis Suarez could help their cause when they face Liverpool on Saturday in a match that could be crucial to their survival hopes. The Reds have been obviously dealt with a major blow by the FA, but they, nevertheless, aim to continue to unbeaten run and put extra pressure on arch rivals Everton ahead of the final three games.
Newcastle United may be six points clear of the relegation positions at the moment, but they cannot afford to relax just yet given that 18th-placed Wigan still have a game in hand. The Magpies looked to be cruising towards safety when Papiss Cisse scored the winner against Fulham deep into injury time, but the embarrassing defeat in Tyne-Wear derby set them back quite a bit. Alan Pardew’s men showed some improvement to bring one point from the Hawthorns last weekend, but they now need to get at least one point against Liverpool if they want to avoid a nervy finish to the season. Things are definitely looking up when the injury situation is concerned seeing that Hatem Ben Arfa could finally be fit to start after making three substitute appearances. Cheick Tiote has been passed fit for the Liverpool game, while Fabricio Coloccini has also resumed training. The Argentine is, however, going to miss this match, just like Sylvain Marveaux who is out with a groin problem. Having done so well at home prior to the Sunderland defeat, Newcastle will be hoping to rediscover their home form when they take on Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.
Liverpool’s European hopes have suffered a major blow as Luis Suarez was slapped with a ten-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, with the Uruguayan set to miss the remainder of the season plus six opening fixtures of the 2013/2014 campaign. There are no doubts the striker will be sorely missed against Newcastle, although at least Daniel Sturridge will finally get some much needed playing time. The former Chelsea striker scored one and set up another after coming off the bench to help Liverpool avoid defeat against his former club, thus proving that he deserves a long run in the side. Liverpool go into this game hoping to close the five-point gap behind bitter rivals Everton, and the interesting thing is this will be their fifth straight away game against relegation strugglers. While beating Wigan and Aston Villa, the Reds were completely outclassed at Southampton, although they were very unfortunate not to beat Reading at Madejski. The Reds could now face a tough task against out-of-sorts Newcastle, but they will relish the fact the pressure is solely on their opponents. Brendan Rodgers should have Fabio Borini available for selection, but Raheem Sterling looks set to sit out with a thigh problem.
With both sides in desperate need of a victory, there is a good chance we are going to see a very open affair at St James Park. While Newcastle should profit from the return of Hatem Ben Arfa, Daniel Sturridge is set to make sure Luis Suarez is not sorely missed, so my advice is to back both teams to score.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 7/10