EPL Preview and Tips: Liverpool v Newcastle – Anfield – March 3
After the 2-month horror period starting October 30th to December 30th which saw Newcastle painfully wriggle through 12 games with 9 losses and a draw, 2018 has been a much better year with the Magpies conceding just one out of their seven outings and that to League fore-runners Manchester City at the Etihad. An impressive 1-0 win over Manchester United and 2-2 away draw against Bournemouth (a match they should have wrapped up) last weekend, has managed to restore much of the lost confidence among Rafael Benitez’s boys going into Saturday’s Premier league clash with Liverpool away at Anfield. Benitez will go in with Dwight Gayle, Ayoze Perez, Kenedy and Matt Ritchie as the front four at Anfield. Jonjo Shelvey who was so brilliant in the midfield in the Bournemouth game will hold center stage in the mid-field.The biggest loss for the Magpies is the inability of their £28m acquisition Islam Slimani not being able to feature in a single game since he came over from Leicester City in January. The 29-year old Algerian forward is down with a thigh injury and missed vital games against Crystal Palace and Manchester United. Slimani looks doubtful for the Anfield clash on March 3 when the Magpies will need him the most. Newcastle missed the easiest of chances at Dean Court against the Cherries last weekend, something they cannot afford to do against Liverpool, for opportunities could be few and far between there.
Liverpool’s performance in the last 19 Premier League games has been next best to Manchester City with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds conceding just a single shock defeat to minions Swansea City. Forwards Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have been simply phenomenal in this splendid run of games, getting goals galore. The Reds have notched up a tally of 65 goals so far in the 2017-18 season, which is 12 better than Manchester United’s 51. While James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been exceptional in the middle, 23-year old ex-Hull City left back, Andrew Robertson, has been a revelation. The young Scottish defender’s forays down the left flank have provided an added impetus to the Liverpool attack and has also complemented brilliantly in the middle and defensive space with Virgil van Dijk.
Klopp looks likely to stick to the 4-3-3 formation that has fetched him such astonishing success of late. Last week has been capped by emphatic 4-1 and 0-5 wins over Bournemouth and Porto. The away win over the Portuguese club on February has almost assured a berth for the Reds in the Round of 8 of the UEFA Champions League which is a huge psychological boost for Jurgen Klopp’s men going ahead.
Liverpool are rank favourites to win the March 3 clash at Anfield unless Newcastle pull something out of the hat. In all likelihood , Liverpool will remain in the 3rd spot even if they beat the visiting Magpies, for the chances of 2nd placed Manchester United and 4th placed Tottenham Hotspur goofing up in their coming fixtures against Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town look remote.
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