Liverpool v Newcastle: Rampant Reds ready to maul meagre Magpies

The Premier League's top scorers take on the division's worst defence and our man can see a cricket score on the cards at Anfield...

Liverpool's winning streak set to stretch to six

This season's Premier League title race continues to captivate.

Having been matched at a low of 3.15Chelsea have dropped off the pace fractionally, drawing at home to Manchester United at the end of November and losing 3-2 away at West Ham at the start of December but the front two aren't blinking.

Manchester City have won their last six in-a-row and Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have picked up maximum points in each of their last five. And the similarities between the pair don't end there. Both have had narrow victories against Aston Villa and Wolves this month and both play Newcastle this week.

City are the odds-on favourites to win their fourth title in five seasons, with Liverpool trading next best at 4.0 as they bid to win their second title in three seasons. Chelsea have drifted out to 7.0.

After a run of three very straightforward Premier League victories, 4-0 at home to both Arsenal and Southampton, and away to local rivals Everton (4-1), the Reds needed an injury time Divock Origi strike to edge past Wolves away (1-0) and a disputed second half Mo Salah penalty to beat Aston Villa on Saturday, but they were very much the deserved winners on both occasions.

Liverpool's xG figures were 2.97 against Villa and 2.65 at Wolves so the score line flattered the two losing sides and it's very difficult to see Thursday's opponents causing them too many problems.

Liverpool have now scored in a club record-equalling 31 games in-a-row in all competitions and the last time they failed to find the net was way back in April against Real Madrid. The Reds are undefeated in 25 of their last 26 in the Premier League and they've not conceded at home in each of their last three Premier League games at Anfield. Newcastle are up against it.

Nose-diving Newcastle all set for the drop

In contrast to the rampant Reds, Newcastle are performing poorly and the new manager, Eddie Howe, doesn't appear to be making much of an impact.

After their 1-0 home victory against fellow strugglers, Burnley, on December 4, their sole success of the campaign so far, it was business as usual for the Magpies on Sunday when they suffered a demoralising 4-0 defeat to Leicester. And as indication of just how toothless the Toon are in front of goal, it was the first time in 15 home games that leaky Leicester hadn't conceded.

Howe was surprisingly upbeat after the defeat, saying "If you look at the score line alone you probably get one thought of the game, but the reality of the game was very different. I though we were OK for long periods of the match without really clicking in the final third.

"And then defensively, for the goals, obviously, big moments in the match and we didn't deal with those situations well enough."

It was hard not to feel for Newcastle given the game changed dramatically when the Foxes were awarded an extremely dubious penalty just before halftime, which Youri Tielemans duly converted, but I think Newcastle legend, Alan Shearer, summed up the Magpies performance perfectly.

The takeover at St James' promises better times to come but level on just ten points with bottom club, Norwich, and with an horrendous away record, the Toon need a turnaround very soon.

With Manchester City their opponents on Sunday, we're unlikely to witness any sort of a recovery before Christmas and it's hard to see them trading at odds-against in the Relegation Market any time soon. They're currently 1.7 to drop out of the division and that doesn't look too short.

The defending champions are bound to be tough opponents at the weekend and the stats suggest Newcastle are highly unlikely to get anything from their visit to Anfield on Thursday. The Magpies have picked up just three points on the road all season (the worst record in the division) and they're yet to score more than once in any of their eight away fixtures to date in the Premier League.

Rampant Reds ready to maul meagre Magpies

Newcastle are winless in their last 25 visits to Anfield (D5 L20) and heavy hitters will be happy enough to wade in on the home side at 1.14 in the outright market.

Newcastle have already conceded 34 times this season (twice more than any other team) and with Mo Salah in such devastating form, scoring 21 goals in 22 games in all competitions this season, the Toon look set for a torrid time on Thursday.

Prior to their two back-to-back 1-0 wins, Liverpool had scored at least twice in 11 consecutive Premier League games, and I suspect there'll have no problem getting back on track against such a sorry outfit.

Getting the home side on side looks the only way to play the game and it's just a question of how.

Liverpool to win to nil is a likely scenario but at odds-on, there's always the chance of one fluky scenario catching us out, so I've looked closely at both the Match Odds and Over 3.5 Goals market and the handicap markets, eventually plumping for Liverpool -2 at odds-against.

Looking at some of the other side markets, Over 5.5 Goals in the Over/Under 5.5 Goals market at around 5/1 looks tempting and Salah to score 2 or more goals at around 2/1 is of interest too.

Although he's yet to score more than once at home against Newcastle, he's found the net on each of the four occasions he's faced the Magpies at Anfield so he has a fine record against them.

For more cautious Bet Builders, Liverpool to win, Salah to score and Over 3.5 Goals pays 2.28 and that looks perfectly fair. 

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