Newcastle United are back in the relegation zone after heavy defeats to Leicester City and Crystal Palace, meaning they will need to show a massive improvement if they want to stop high-flying Liverpool in their tracks. The 6-1 hammering of Southampton in the League Cup quarter-final was the Reds’ fourth straight win, and we wouldn’t bet against them making it five on the bounce.
It is not that easy to point out exactly what is the problem with this Newcastle side and whey they have been utterly disappointing in the opening exchanges. The arrival of Steve McClaren and several quality players in the summer was expected to be just the boost the club needed to turn things around, and yet they find themselves deep in the Premier League relegation zone ahead of Matchday 15. Difficult injury to star player Tim Krul definitely spoiled their plans, but the absence of the Dutch keeper cannot be the only reason for the under-par performances. Even if the fans still believe that Aleksandar Mitrovic can develop into a high-quality striker, the club management has probably lived to regret the decision to choose the Serbian over in-form Charlie Austin, with the mere fact that central midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is team’s top scorer speaking volumes about Newcastle’s front line. Heavy defeats to Leicester City and Crystal Palace are enough to suggest that the back line could use some tweaking as well, while Vurnon Anita and Jack Colback haven’t been providing the cover the defence desperately needed. And with Mike Williamson added to the lengthy injury list that also contains Cheick Tiote and Steven Taylor, among other players, things are not looking too good ahead of the Liverpool clash.
Even before Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield, it was clear that Liverpool had found a perfect man to replace Brendan Rodgers and the former Borussia Dortmund boss didn’t need a lot of time to prove his worth in English Premier League. The bespectacled tactician had the support of the Reds fans even before he took charge of his first game, so that definitely helped, and following some early bumps on the road, Liverpool are now playing with a lot of confidence. With three wins in last four games, the Reds have climbed within six points off the top of the standings, meaning there is plenty of time left for the team to mount a serious title challenge, while the Europa League campaign is also progressing nicely. But, it was the 6-1 away triumph over very good Southampton side in the Capital One Cup quarter-final at the manner in which it was achieved that put Liverpool back on the map. The best thing about them is that there is still plenty of room for improvement given that key men Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge have only just returned into action and Philippe Coutinho is still not fully fit. But, with Roberto Firmino and even Divock Origi starting to prove their worth, good times are ahead of Jurgen Klopp and his charges, who head into the Newcastle clash high on confidence, albeit without the suspended Emre Can and with Coutinho a fitness doubt.
Newcastle are all over the place at the moment and missing quite a few first team players, so we cannot really expect them to match red-hot Liverpool on Sunday afternoon. The Reds are playing their best football in years and we are backing them to extend the winning run at St James’ Park.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 5/8