Title-chasing Liverpool face a tough trip to Tyneside on Saturday night as they bid to pile on the pressure for table-toppers Manchester City. Mark O'Haire analyses the encounter.
"The Reds’ output dips from 2.24 goals per-game to 1.50 in 11 matches under Klopp following an away midweek European trip (W6-D3-L2)."
Newcastle v Liverpool
Saturday May 4, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Newcastle finishing on a high
Newcastle survived a late scare to earn a 1-1 draw with Brighton at The Amex last weekend. The Magpies went ahead as Ayoze Perez scored his seventh goal in seven league games but the Spaniard was forced off injured in the 33rd minute and Brighton levelled with 15 minutes to play, before spurning a golden opportunity to take top honours with minutes to spare.
Defeat would have been unjust on Rafa Benitez's boys who once again looked lively in the final-third with attacking duo Perez and Salomon Rondon combining for the opener. Rondon has now been directly involved in 44% of the Toon's Premier League goals this season and his presence was ably assisted by Newcastle's steady and assured backline performance.
Perez remains a major doubt after picking up a hip injury on the south coast, whilst record signing Miguel Almiron has already been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with a hamstring injury. Florian Lejeune and Sean Longstaff are also out of contention but club captain Jamaal Lascelles is expected to feature despite suffering from stomach cramps.
Liverpool go down in Barcelona
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said his side produced their best Champions League away performance for two seasons in Barcelona - despite losing 3-0. Despite trailing at the interval, the Reds were on top after the break in the Camp Nou before Lionel Messi struck twice late on - including a stunning free-kick - to sink the Merseysiders.
Liverpool enjoyed more possession (57%), completed more passes and won the shots on-target count in the second-half with James Milner twice denied when the score was 1-0. Roberto Firmino saw his shot cleared off the line - and then Mohamed Salah struck the follow-up against the post with the goal seemingly at his mercy as the Reds pressed late on.
Klopp admitted, "I don't know if we can play much better. I told the boys I'm proud of how we played. Our performance was really good, the boys played a super game". Now the German must raise his weary troops for a tricky trip to Tyneside; Firmino is expected to return to the starting XI, along with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson.
Reds hot favourites on Tyneside
It's over 20 years since Newcastle and Liverpool played out two of the most memorable Premier League matches in history but recent showdowns have still produced plenty of interest and intrigue. The Reds have enjoyed the upper-hand over the past decade or so, mind, returning an impressive W11-D4-L4 from the duos last 19 league duels.
Newcastle - with little left to play for bar pride and finishing position - are rated a 10.5019/2 shot to snatch maximum points on Saturday night. For a second successive season, Rafa Benitez's defence and attack have peaked in the second half of the campaign having been as low as 18th back in January. That W7-D3-L4 run saw the Toon take down Man City here.
Liverpool 1.384/11 arrive just 72 hours after their draining outing in Barcelona. The data shows an away trip in a Champions League semi-final can affect performance levels in the next league game (W12-D4-L6), whilst the Reds' output dips from 2.24 goals per-game to 1.50 in 11 matches under Klopp following an away midweek European trip (W6-D3-L2).
Oppose goals at St James' Park
Newcastle's success under Rafa Benitez has been built upon a solid foundation. The Magpies' defence - the seventh tightest in the Premier League - has conceded three or more goals on only eight occasions since returning to the top-flight. Indeed, in 11 encounters with Big Six sides on Tyneside, the Toon have shipped no more than two goals.
Unsurprisingly then, Under 2.5 Goals 2.206/5 has been a prominent winner when Newcastle have hosted Premier League opposition, whilst only 3/37 (8%) league fixtures here have featured four goals or more since the start of last season.
Liverpool certainly have the capacity to cut loose, although it's questionable whether Jurgen Klopp's charges will be at their best following a demanding week, especially against such stodgy opposition on Saturday night. Therefore, it may pay to dip into the Same Game Multi market on Betfair Sportsbook for an angle opposing goals.
Here we can support Under 3.5 Goals and Liverpool to score Under 2.5 Goals at a very handy 1.75. It's a selection that's proven profitable in all bar three of Liverpool's away Premier League encounters this term and ties in nicely alongside recent stats and trends.
Mark's 2018/19 Profit/Loss
Staked: 145.00 pts
Returned: 159.56 pts
P/L: +14.56 pts