Simon Mail previews Liverpool's final game of the season at Newcastle and thinks the champions will finish with a flourish...
"Although Liverpool cannot reach 100 points, Jurgen Klopp's side still have the chance to finish on 99 points which would set a new club record."
Newcastle v Liverpool
Live on BT Sport 2
Champions in a class of their own
Liverpool celebrated their first domestic title for 30 years with captain Jordan Henderson lifting the Premier League trophy after Wednesday's 5-3 home win against Chelsea. A stunning strike from Naby Keita set Jurgen Klopp's side on their way with the champions ensuring three unbeaten league seasons at Anfield. It has been a glorious season for Liverpool and although the team had to wait, due to the lockdown, wrapped up the title with seven games to spare.
Although Liverpool cannot reach 100 points, Klopp's side still have the chance to finish on 99 points which would set a new club record. With 31 victories from 37 matches, Liverpool have been in a class of their own with Manchester City lagging 18 points behind them. The challenge next season will be to produce a strong title defence but their relentless consistency over the last two years suggest the champions will not be far away.
Bruce's future uncertain despite safety
Newcastle achieved safety with something to spare although their results have predictably tailed off in recent weeks. Steve Bruce's side were 13th in the Premier League when the competition was suspended in March and this is the same position they find themselves with one match remaining. Wins over Sheffield United and Bournemouth sparked brief hope of a top half finish but reality has set in with an underwhelming series of results recently.
The Magpies have picked up just two points from their last five matches and were held to a 0-0 draw at Brighton on Monday. The limitations on Bruce's squad have been brought home recently and his future remains no clearer with the delayed takeover creating more uncertainty at St James' Park. Bruce arguably deserves to stay in charge next season but it would be no surprise if he was replaced by a bigger name if the club's sale finally gets the go-ahead.
Liverpool predictably short for victory
Liverpool are overwhelming favourites and it is no surprise the visitors are 1.422/5 to end their outstanding season with a win. Their last four league meetings with Newcastle have all been wins and Klopp's side should prove too strong once again. Liverpool's away record is by some distance the best in the division, with 13 wins from 18 matches, so everything points towards the champions underlining their class at St James' Park.
Newcastle are at dismissive odds of 8.07/1 but it is easy to see why Bruce's side are such a big price. The team have unimpressive for most of this month, going five matches without a victory. Newcastle have only won six of their 18 home games and taking on the champions does not offer much hope for a closing win.
The draw is trading at 5.59/2 and Newcastle have been held 11 times this season. But Liverpool have been ruthless, drawing just three matches, which tempers enthusiasm for this outcome. Liverpool are predictably short in the win market but it looks worth siding with the champions elsewhere with a view to inflating their odds.
Goals likely at St James' Park
Liverpool have scored more Premier League goals, with 101, against Newcastle than against any other team and the champions should punish their opponents again this weekend. The Reds boast one of the most potent attacks in the competition and are fancied to exploit weaknesses in Newcastle's defence. Liverpool have scored ten goals in their last three clashes against the Magpies.
The champions have gone four matches without keeping a clean sheet, with their defence showing a few signs of being short of their best since wrapping up the title. Three of their last four games have seen at least three goals scored while five of Newcastle's last six games have resulted in over 2.5 goals. Combining a Liverpool win with at least three goals enhances the odds on the favourites to a more appealing price at 10/11.
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has been involved in five goals in his last four Premier League games against Newcastle (four goals and one assist), finding the net in each of these matches. Salah is 4/5 to score in the season finale.
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P/L 2019-20 season