Premier League – Newcastle United v Liverpool
Given the current form and league position of both teams, it’s difficult to understand why Newcastle United should be bigger odds (9/5) than Liverpool (6/4) to win their Premier League clash at the Sports Direct Arena.
The Magpies have recovered from a minor blip to record back-to-back victories over Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion and were simply sensational at The Hawthorns last week when Papiss Cisse scored twice and Hatem Ben Arfa looked back to his very best. Alan Pardew’s side were able to coast through the second half with the only down side of the game being an injury to defender Fabriccio Colocinni which threatens to keep him on the sidelines for a couple of weeks. United’s run-in doesn’t look too testing and they have still only lost twice at home. They have a Europa Cup place well within their grasp if they can keep their form at a reasonable level, which is more than you can say about Liverpool.
The Reds’ domestic cup runs have rather disguised the fact that’s it’s been a disappointing season for Kenny Dalglish and his players in the Premier League – a double over Everton in the derbies aside. Undoubtedly, Luis Suarez’ long suspension cost them in terms of goals as Andy Carroll just hasn’t stepped up to the plate and Dirk Kuyt is more of a midfielder nowadays. But there’s still little excuse for an appalling recent run of form that’s seen them lose five of their last six in the league. They were jeered off the field after going down at home to Wigan last week having thrown away a two-goal lead in the final quarter against equally relegation-threatened QPR three days earlier. The manager admits he may have to re-assess his tactics to get his team out of a slump but won’t be throwing the club’s promising youngsters into the team en masse anytime soon. In any case, it may well be too late to gate-crash the top six as Liverpool have an eight-point gap to close on this weekend’s opponents and Chelsea with games fast running out.
Taking all that into consideration, however, it would be typical of Liverpool to storm back to form in front of the TV cameras and they could be suited if a big crowd encourages Newcastle to make the running. There are always plenty of goals in the games between the clubs (at least three in their last six meetings) and over 2.5 total goals can be backed at Evens. Liverpool to win and three or four total goals in the match is 9/2.