Two teams who have had some difficulties in the early part of the season meet on Saturday when Newcastle United host Liverpool at St James’ Park (12:45 GMT, live on BT Sport).
Newcastle come into the match buoyed by a 2-0 win over Manchester City in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday. They are 14th in the Premier League table, with 10 points from two wins, four draws and three defeats.
The win at City came just a few days after Newcastle’s surprising 2-1 league victory away to Tottenham. The Magpies went in 1-0 down at the interval after a limp first-half performance but came out much stronger after the break, equalising through Sammy Ameobi within seconds of the restart and getting their winner, through Ayoze Perez, before the hour mark.
Alan Pardew found his position under serious threat after Newcastle failed to win any of their first seven league matches of the campaign. Summer signings such as Emmanuel Riviere, Remy Cabella and Siem de Jong had not made the expected impact and Pardew’s side looked short on energy and ideas. Supporters were calling for his head in increasing numbers.
But then Newcastle won at home to Leicester City a couple of weeks ago and followed it with the victories away to Spurs and Man City. Those results have bought Pardew a little breathing room and given him a platform to build from for the rest of the season. All is still not well on Tyneside, but a run of points-yielding results would at least restore a little calm.
Pardew will definitely be without the injured De Jong (thigh) and Davide Santon (knee) for Saturday’s match, while Riviere (knock), Cheikh Tiote (knock), Michael Williamson (knock), Papiss Demba Cisse (knee) and Stephen Taylor (knock) are all doubtful.
Liverpool scored twice in the final five minutes to record a come-from-behind victory at home to Swansea City in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. They are seventh in the Premier League, with 14 points from four wins, two draws and three defeats.
Mario Balotelli finally scored his second goal in Liverpool colours on Tuesday, but he had less luck in their 0-0 draw at home to Hull last weekend. Neither side was able to create many chances of particular note in a drab and unrewarding encounter from which few Liverpool players came away with any credit. They lacked drive and creativity throughout.
Brendan Rodgers’ side are a million miles away from the swashbuckling outfit who came so close to winning the Premier League title last year. The summer departure of Luis Suarez was always going to have a big effect on their goal output, while the absence, through injury, of Daniel Sturridge, who scored 21 goals last season, has further decreased their potency.
Liverpool’s 101-goal haul compensated for a defensive unit that was only the eighth best in the division. Despite a number of reinforcements over the summer the defensive problems of last season still remain. Rodgers needs both his defence to tighten and his forwards to start firing if he hopes to steer Liverpool to a second consecutive top-four finish.
Rodgers will definitely be without the injured Sturridge (calf) and John Flanagan (knee) for the trip to St James’ Park, while Mamadou Sakho (thigh) is highly doubtful.
Newcastle v Liverpool Betting Tips
Last season’s equivalent fixture ended in a 2-2 draw, with Liverpool twice coming from behind to secure a point. The Reds won 2-1 in the reverse fixture at Anfield. The last five meetings at St James’ Park have seen two wins apiece and one draw while the last 10 fixtures at all venues have yielded six wins for Liverpool and two for Newcastle.
After a poor start to the season, Newcastle have shown a little more promise over the last couple of weeks and will hope to continue that momentum on Saturday. A high-energy, purposeful approach proved successful in the second half against Spurs and from kickoff against City. Pardew’s side are therefore likely to force the issue early on against Liverpool.
The Reds are, for all their issues, in the midst of a four-match unbeaten run in league play. They have won two and lost two away from home so far this season, although the more comprehensive of those victories was achieved with Sturridge in the team. Newcastle will seek to emulate West Ham’s performance in their 3-1 win over Liverpool in September.
We think Newcastle are undervalued by the bookies and fancy them to pick up at least a point from Saturday’s match.
- Back Newcastle +0.5 on the Asian Handicap @ 37/40 with Bet365.
- The 2nd half has been the highest scoring half in three of Newcastle’s four home matches and three of Liverpool’s four away matches so far this season. The open nature of Liverpool’s play means that even if an early goal is scored, more are likely to follow. Back the 2nd half to be the ‘highest scoring half’ @ 23/20 with BetVictor.