Newcastle vs Liverpool preview, betting tips and predictions: Reds in for tough afternoon but should come through it

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Score draw @ 7/2 with Betfair

Liverpool to win and Sadio Mane to score first @ 9/2

Draw HT/Newcastle FT @ 9/1 with Betfair

Newcastle vs Liverpool is a game known for goals galore in a traditional sense, but those days have long gone. Liverpool are still as attacking as ever under the ever-entertaining Jurgen Klopp, but their defensive capabilities have come under real scrutiny in recent weeks even when they’ve been winning, just like against Leicester last week. Newcastle may have lost at Brighton in their last game but they had won their last three including two at home. Rafa Benitez has set the team up so they excel in everything Liverpool are weakest at, so cannot be counted out of this one.

Going forward, Liverpool have so much quality and dynamism they can cut through any team, but they will have a real job in breaking down the Newcastle defence. If they can’t particularly early, Newcastle will grow in confidence; on the counter attack they are particularly dangerous, but have not put away enough of their chances in recent weeks, particularly against Brighton. Liverpool leave huge gaps at the back, playing a high line with midfielders who are either creative or those who control the tempo. They are unlikely to put a foot in, meaning the hosts could win the midfield battle. If it is level at half time, there is a good chance Newcastle will grow into the game and could win it – 9/1 are great odds for a bet on that particular outcome.

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The Magpies have also scored goals from set pieces recently, which is a real weak spot for Liverpool defensively. Two Jamaal Lascelles goals from Matt Ritchie corners came after Ciaran Clark scored from a cross from Ritchie, as did Christian Atsu. The Reds may struggle to deal with that direct approach, meaning their poor run of one win in seven years at St James’ Park. They have lost four times in those years too.

Sadio Mane’s return from suspension could make it a completely different story though. The Senegal star adds another dimension for Liverpool in attack, running into the space vacated by Roberto Firmino, who likes to drag defenders away. Pulling apart Newcastle’s solid defence is the first step to winning this game, and if they make the hosts chase the game, there will only be one winner. At 9/2, Mane scoring first in an away win seems like good value.

Key battle: Joe Gomez vs Christian Atsu

As already mentioned, Newcastle’s primary plan of attack in open play is their wide men. Atsu was voted Player of the Month for August at Newcastle because of how direct and fearless he is. He will attack his opponent anyway, but with Nathaniel Clyne injured, Gomez could step in, and as a centre back who plays left back from time to time he is a man who can be targeted by Newcastle.

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By starting on the front foot, Liverpool can silence the home crowd and contain Newcastle, but if they allow the hosts to break through the lines it could spell trouble. Gomez represents the ideal route to the heart of the defence, and Liverpool cannot afford to let him get exposed.

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