Newcastle to prove they're here to stay in top 4
Newcastle United will be looking to break out of their run of five draws in the last six Premier League matches when Liverpool come to visit St. James' Park early on Saturday evening. The hosts have still only lost once all season long in the division, but the number of shared spoils is starting to impinge on their ambitions of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. Meanwhile, the visitors bested a limited Everton team in the Merseyside derby on Monday, but will come up against much more stoic opposition in black and white. Read our preview here:
Howe to solve a problem
Eddie Howe has potentially eight members of his first team squad out of contention at the weekend, though late fitness tests will be performed on the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almirón, and Callum Wilson; Bruno Guimarães continues to serve his suspension, however. Whilst only two of those four on current form would ordinarily start, to have none of them would be a big blow to the Toon Army's collective creative and attacking potency. Anthony Gordon could be asked to dovetail with Joelinton on the left of midfield to help shut down counterattacks down that flank and to provide support for Alexander Isak. Sean Longstaff will perform an anchor role in the absence of Guimarães, but the back four/five should remain the most resolute unit in England.
Cody Gakpo couldn't have asked for an easier chance to register his first goal for Jürgen Klopp's side when he was left unmarked at the far post from a couple of yards out against the Toffees, but that could kickstart his time in the red half of the city, even whilst many other components of the side continue to underperform. There are no fresh injury concerns, so the emphasis will be on trying to engineer quick passages of play to break the home side's lines. Trent Alexander-Arnold will be key as ever to this strategy, but with Darwin Núñez and now Gakpo both more than capable of turning the corner in more advanced areas, the game has the potential to become stretched in the second half.
The chances of a high-scoring affair are low, but bet365 have enhanced odds of 2.61 for a Newcastle win in a game that could come down to midfield organisation and support more than any other factor.