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|Newcastle or Draw||+185
|Newcastle or Liverpool||-540
|Liverpool or Draw||-1300
Liverpool are undoubtedly the stronger side, but the Magpies are in terrific form – particularly at home.
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The Premier League title race is really heating up. Manchester City remain a point clear of Liverpool at the summit of standings, with both teams having won both of their matches since a 2-2 draw between the pair at the Etihad Stadium earlier this month. It is likely to be nip and tuck right the way through to the end of the season.
Of the four remaining game weeks before the final day, when all 10 matches will kick off at the same time, Liverpool will play first three times and City just once. That could be significant. Ask any manager or player and they would rather play first in a head-to-head battle, whether the prize is the title, a place in the top four or avoiding relegation.
Take this weekend for example. If Liverpool beat St James’ Park, they will be two points clear at the top by the time City take to the field against Leeds United in Saturday’s late kick-off. The pressure would be on the Premier League champions to respond.
To balance Liverpool’s advantage in that regard, there is a general consensus that City have the kinder fixture list. The average position in the table of the teams they still have to play is 11th, compared to 10th for Liverpool. That might not sound like a big difference, but the Reds have the hardest remaining game against Tottenham, while their match against Newcastle is away rather than at home (City will host Eddie Howe’s side in May).
Still, Liverpool are playing with such confidence at the moment that you would not rule anything out. Their 2-0 victory over Villarreal in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday means they have won nine of their last 11 games in all competitions, the exceptions being that meeting with City in the Premier League and a 3-3 draw with Benfica in a match Liverpool did not need to win. The Reds are probably playing their best soccer of the Jurgen Klopp era right now.
Newcastle is a club transformed. The primary cause of that is controversial ownership of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which completed its takeover in October. That allowed the Magpies to spend close to £100m in the January transfer window in a bid to pull clear of the bottom three. They have achieved that objective – and gone even further.
Eddie Howe took charge of Newcastle in early November, replacing the unpopular Steve Bruce in the St James’ Park dugout. The improvement was not instant. Howe’s side won only one of his first nine Premier League games at the helm. As time went on, though – and aided by the expenditure in the mid-season market – Newcastle enjoyed a major uptick in performances and results.
The Magpies began the year in the relegation zone. They now sit ninth in the table and are on course to finish in the top half for only the second time in eight years.
Remarkably, Liverpool are the only team to have accrued more points in 2022 than Newcastle, who have won six games in a row at St James’ Park for the first time since the Bobby Robson era. If they can keep this up, Newcastle will be targeting Europa League qualification next season.
Liverpool did not have to be at their best to overcome Villarreal in midweek. Their 2-0 win at Anfield leaves them in a strong position ahead of the second leg on Tuesday, when the Reds will be expected to book their spot in the Champions League final for the third time in five years.
Yet the unspoken fear among the club’s fan base is that all these games – Liverpool are targeting an unprecedented quadruple this season – might ultimately catch up with them.
There have been no signs of that yet. If anything, Liverpool appear to be peaking at just the right time. Yet a trip to St James’ Park is far from straightforward at the moment, and Klopp has had relatively little time to prepare his players for this encounter.
That might not matter too much, but Wednesday night to Saturday lunchtime (UK time) is a quick turnaround. Newcastle have had the benefit of a week off to focus their full attention on Liverpool. They are hard to beat in front of their own fans, having gone unbeaten at home since before Christmas. Their last home loss was against Manchester City – but that is their only league defeat at St James’ since October.
As brilliant as they are, Liverpool could come unstuck this weekend.
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|Newcastle United vs Liverpool Information|
|Teams||Newcastle United vs Liverpool|
|Location||St James’ Park, Newcastle, England|
|Time||Saturday, 30 April 2022, 7.30 AM EDT|
|How to watch||USA Network|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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