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    Liverpool vs Newcastle United Match Preview


    Both Liverpool and Newcastle United will be eager to maintain their excellent recent form when the two clubs meet at Anfield on Saturday in what is a vital game for either side.

    Jurgen Klopp's team have the chance to move up to second in the table with a victory against The Magpies, while a win for Newcastle could elevate the club to 11th as they battle to avoid the drop for the second time in three seasons.

    The two sides head into the encounter on the back of some excellent recent performances, with Liverpool winning eight of their previous 11 league matches and their opponents producing their longest unbeaten run of the season.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool have been in scintillating form in recent weeks, winning their last three matches in all competitions by an aggregate 11-1 scoreline and they will be looking for that momentum to continue on Saturday.

    The victory over West Ham last weekend showed The Reds at their most dazzling and ruthless best, with the front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino maintaining the devastating form they have displayed all season.

    The visitors had no answer to their opponents' quick and incisive passing and clever movement, which they produced with regularity, although David Moyes' team contributed to an entertaining match with moments of high-quality themselves.

    Liverpool have now found the net on 103 occasions this campaign, with Salah (31), Firmino (22), Mane (13) and the recently-departed Philippe Coutinho (12) scoring a total of 78 times for the club in all competitions.

    Another win on Saturday would once again take The Reds above Manchester United in the runners-up spot behind Manchester City, although United have the chance to respond when they travel to Crystal Palace on Monday night.

    Klopp's side cannot afford, however, to take a victory on Saturday for granted just five months after the two teams drew at St James' Park, while The Magpies also took four points off their opponents during the 2015-16 campaign.

    Liverpool have the luxury of being able to pick their strongest side, safe in the knowledge that their passage into the quarter-finals of the Champions League should be a formality on Wednesday having beaten opponents FC Porto 5-0 in the first-leg last month.

    Newcastle United

    Newcastle have shown plenty of resilience and fighting spirit over the past couple of months after enduring a nine-match winless run from October to December that put the North East side in serious danger of relegation.

    The Magpies had been as high as sixth in the table after they beat Crystal Palace on October 21 but eight defeats from nine matches left the club in 18th position ahead of a hectic Christmas and New Year schedule.

    Rafa Benitez's side duly won seven points from a possible 12 during that period to move up to 13th-place, while they have maintained their solid form at the start of 2018 despite finding victories hard to come by.

    The highlight of Newcastle's season so far has been the 1-0 win over Manchester United three weeks ago, in which they produced a disciplined and resolute performance despite conceding 64 per cent of the possession and several clear-cut chances.

    Only Manchester City, twice, have won against The Magpies in their last 10 matches, while they stretched their unbeaten run to four games last weekend with a 2-2 draw against Bournemouth despite surrendering a 2-0 lead.

    Dwight Gayle is currently Newcastle's top-scorer on five goals, ahead of Ayoze Perez and Joselu who have both scored four-apiece, but the team have struggled for firepower during 2017-18 having scored 27 times from 28 league matches.

    Benitez, meanwhile, returns to the club that he served as manager between 2004 and 2010, where he is still remembered affectionately having guided The Reds to a fifth European Cup triumph back in 2005 as well as the FA Cup the following year.

    Liverpool Team News

    Liverpool could name a similar line-up to the one which beat West Ham United a week ago, with Joel Matip keeping his place alongside Virgil van Dijk in central defence and Trent Alexander-Arnold preferred to Joe Gomez in the right-back position.

    James Milner is a doubt with a knock so captain Jordan Henderson could make his first league start for nearly a month, while Georginio Wijnaldum and Ben Woodburn will be assessed after recovering from illness.

    Danny Ings also returns to the squad having also been unwell but there is still no place for Nathaniel Clyne, who is on the comeback trail after missing the first seven months of the season with a back injury.

    Newcastle United Team News

    Jonjo Shelvey has been ruled-out of the match after he sustained a knee injury in last weekend's draw at Bournemouth, with Christian Atsu the player most likely to deputise for the former Liverpool midfielder.

    Matt Ritchie picked-up a knock against The Cherries but should be fit enough to keep his place in the team, while Dwight Gayle is also expected to feature on Saturday despite leaving the field with a tight hamstring seven days ago.

    The debut of Islam Slimani remains on hold as the Algerian international, on loan from Leicester, remains on the sidelines with a thigh injury, where he is joined by right-back Jesus Gamez, who has an ankle problem.

    Head-to-head

    Liverpool and Newcastle have been involved in some thrilling contests at Anfield over the years, with successive 4-3 wins for The Reds back in April 1996 and March 1997 considered to be two of the greatest matches in the Premier League era.

    The Magpies have fared well against Saturday's opponents in recent times having won one and drawn two of the past three encounters, which included a 1-1 draw at St James' Park last October.

    Jurgen Klopp's side have dominated the head-to-head in the Premier League era, however, with 24 wins from 45 encounters in the competition compared to Newcastle's 11 victories, while 10 matches between the teams have ended in draws.

    The Reds also lead the way in terms of all-time meetings having won 82 and drawn 42 out of 174 encounters in all competitions, with Newcastle coming out on top on 50 occasions during a 125-year rivalry.

    Score Prediction

    Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle United
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Newcastle United Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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