The threat of relegation continues to haunt Newcastle - from a distance admittedly - but they have a big chance to banish those fears for good on Saturday evening against a Liverpool side lacking their talisman, Luis Suarez.
Any team would miss a 30-goal striker, but Suarez has made so many vital interventions in Liverpool's season that they will be significantly weakened by his absence. The furore over Suarez's actions at Anfield last Sunday and the accompanying reaction from the club threatens to overshadow the entire season. For me, Liverpool must take the punishment and move on. Ten games is an entirely appropriate penalty for what was a piece of utterly outrageous behaviour which has no place in the game.
The most amazing thing for me was how Branislav Ivanovic took it without retaliating. I think the surprise took him more than anything. If it had happened against Martin Keown I doubt Suarez would have been around to score a 96th minute equaliser anyway!
So will Newcastle take advantage of an under strength Liverpool? Doubtful, I'm afraid.
The Toon's home record isn't particularly special, having suffered seven league defeats at St James's Park this season, while current form is nothing to write home about either with seven points from the last 18 available. Alan Pardew's men looked nervous at WBA last time out despite taking the lead and they need to conquer that during the run-in.
Going deep in the Europa League clearly affected Newcastle this season and the absence of midweek games will surely help on the closing stretch. With six points between the Toon and 18th placed Wigan (though the Latics have a game in hand) I ultimately expect Pardew to lead his team to safety, but they will want to get to 40 points as soon as possible. Nevertheless, odds of 23.022/1 are a true representation of Newcastle's relegation chances.
Liverpool's season is fading to an inglorious end - three draws in recent weeks have taken the wind out of their sails and has as good as finished their unlikely dream of a top four finish. Like Newcastle they sit below their local rivals in the table and it's hard to see how Brendan Rodgers is going to motivate his men for the final four games.
Strangely enough they might find some encouragement upfront where goalscoring responsibilities will fall on Daniel Sturridge. The England man must use the next few games to send Rodgers a clear message about his claims for a first XI role next season. I do like Sturridge, but he is inconsistent. Liverpool will hope he shows his best during the run-in.
Though Newcastle are not in a great state, I don't foresee Sturridge - or any of his team-mates - scoring a winner at St James'. I really don't see much between these two outfits and I fancy a draw on Saturday, and not a particularly entertaining one at that. A goal apiece looks the likely scoreline but I'll play it safe by restricting my bet to the match odds market.
Back the draw @ 3.613/5