Newcastle and Liverpool will both be keen to shake off some poor late-season form when they clash at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Alan Pardew’s Newcastle side still have a faint chance of being relegated, sitting six points above 18th-placed Wigan, while Liverpool are at long odds to secure Europa League football next term – in seventh place and 10 points behind Tottenham in the qualifying spot with just four games to play.
While it is likely Newcastle will be playing in the Premier League next season, they need a couple of wins in the final weeks to make their situation comfortable.
Newcastle have won just once in their past seven matches in all competitions, and were held to a 1-1 draw by West Brom in their most recent league game.
Similarly, Liverpool have looked like a team with one eye firmly on their end-of-season holidays – drawing their past three games and needing an injury-time equaliser from Luis Suarez to secure a point in a 2-2 draw against Chelsea on Sunday.
The last time the sides met, a second-half goal from Suarez cancelled out Yohan Cabaye’s opener in a 1-1 draw at Anfield in November.
Suarez is set to be unavailable for the trip to Newcastle, with the Uruguayan banned for 10 games by the FA following his bite on Branislav Ivanovic, pending Liverpool’s decision on whether to appeal his punishment.
That is not the only selection headache facing Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers with Joe Allen out with a shoulder problem, although striker Fabio Borini is nearing a return from his dislocated shoulder.
Raheem Sterling missed the Chelsea game with a hip problem, and Martin Kelly is a long-term casualty with a knee injury.
Pardew, meanwhile, has seen his squad decimated by injuries.
Goalkeeper Tim Krul is out for the season with a dislocated shoulder, while Davide Santon (hamstring), Fabricio Coloccini (back), Cheick Tiote (hamstring), Sylvain Marveaux (groin) and Ryan Taylor (knee) are all facing spells on the sidelines.
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