Newcastle v Huddersfield
Saturday 31 March, 15:00 BST
Newcastle peaking at just the right time
The Magpies are coming into form at just the right time of the season as they have lost just one of their last six matches - and a defeat at Anfield can easily be excused. Admittedly they only won twice during that run, but both of those were at St James' Park, and they haven't been beaten at home since December.
Rafa Benitez's side have climbed to 13th in the table but they still only hold a four point advantage to Southampton in 18th, so they are a long way from being safe. Obviously this fixture represents a golden opportunity to put another three points on the board, which would take their total to 35, and they still have West Brom to come to St James'.
As far as the team news goes, Matt Ritchie is expected to be fit despite withdrawing from the Scotland squad with a groin problem. It's unlikely that Benitez will make too many changes from the team that beat Southampton 3-0 last time out, with Ayoze Perez supporting Dwight Gayle in attack.
Huddersfield still need wins
The Terriers have exceeded most people's expectations this season but the fact remains that they are far from safe. They have taken 31 points from their 31 outings to date, but they have just a four point gap to the relegation zone and they have failed to scored in their last three games.
It's probably correct to say that the international break came at the right time for Huddersfield as it's given David Wagner and his players the chance to regroup ahead of a run-in that still requires them to record at least two more wins.
The good news for the manager is that Aaron Mooy and Philip Billing are both in contention after the pair returned back early from international duty. He will also be able to welcome back Terence Kongolo at full-back, and he could well freshen things up in the attacking third as well.
Geordies to call the toon
I am definitely in the camp of a home win in this one. The hosts aren't the biggest price in the world at the 1.84/5 mark, but they have won their last two matches in front of their own fans - 1-0 against Manchester United and 3-0 against Southampton.
Even prior to that when they weren't winning, they still weren't getting beaten as they drew with Brighton, Swansea and Burnley. The visitors have already lost 10 of their 15 away fixtures this term and although they beat West Brom at the Hawthorns in February, the Baggies are in a state of disarray at present.
The problem for Huddersfield has been their ability to put the ball in the net and with Newcastle having a mean defensive record at home, I just can't see how they're going to score.
A 0-0 is an outside possibility - the draw is trading at around 3.65 - but I feel that the away win is far too short at 5.69/2 and not even worth considering.
Where will the goals come from?
Given what I have written above, it's no surprise that Under 2.5 goals is as low as 1.75/7. It would have landed in six of Newcastle's last seven appearances at St James' Park and three of Huddersfield's last four on their travels.
I know that I'm not keen on the visitor's chances in this clash, but I can't see them being blown away either. They have only conceded more than twice in one of their last eight away from the John Smith's Stadium, and Newcastle have only scored more than twice at home on two occasions this season.
For balance, Over 2.5 Goals is available to back at 2.3411/8, but I just can't see it. However if you want something at a bit of a bigger price, I am quite keen on a 1-0 Correct Score at 6.611/2.
A home win to nil is certainly a strong possibility as Opta tells us that the Terriers have only scored in four of their 15 away Premier League games this season, but they haven't lost any of those games in which they've found the net (W3 D1).
The man in charge for this clash is Martin Atkinson and he's shown five red cards in 27 matches this year. Interestingly, one of those was to Jonjo Shelvey back in December, so it could be worth keeping an eye on that battle - although Shelvey is bound to be a short price to be carded anyway.
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