AFTER a chastening Champions League defeat to Barcelona at Camp Nou, Liverpool will try to continue their excellent domestic form and put more pressure on Manchester City in the final throes of the title race.
All but out of European football’s elite club competition bar a remarkable semi-final second-leg turnaround on Merseyside, the Reds are in danger of seeing a terrific season pass by with no major silverware.
Liverpool are back to trailing the defending champions by one point with just two matches remaining after their 5-0 drubbing of relegated Huddersfield was followed by a slightly nervy win for City at Burnley that proved just how fine the margins are in this titanic battle.
Looking to extinguish their remaining title hopes and prevent Jurgen Klopp’s prolific side from easing to an eighth successive league win are an in-form Newcastle team that once again have come on strong in the second half of the season to banish any relegation fears.
Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez continues to do great work on a limited budget, with the Magpies currently sitting comfortable in 13th after a draw at Brighton followed wins over Leicester and Southampton.
Top scorer Ayoze Perez has been crucial to Newcastle’s recent form – scoring their last five goals including a hat-trick against Southampton – and he could be fit to start against Liverpool after being forced off in the first half at Brighton with a bruised hip.
Benitez will also hope to welcome captain Jamaal Lascelles back from illness, but record signing Miguel Almiron (hamstring) will miss the rest of the season along with Sean Longstaff and Florian Lejeune (both knee).
Aside from Adam Lallana, Liverpool had an almost entirely clean bill of health before that 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in which Naby Keita limped off with a groin issue that looks set to keep him out for the remainder of the campaign.
Roberto Firmino could return to the starting XI after coming off the bench in midweek following a muscle issue.
Despite their heavy defeat, Klopp described Liverpool’s performance against Barcelona as their best away from home in the Champions League for two years and he will be keen to keep morale high.
Newcastle are in confident mood and, backed by a strong home crowd for a rare Saturday night fixture, could pose a threat to their opponents’ eight-game domestic winning streak, particularly if Perez is able to prove his fitness.
They may well keep it close for long stretches, but it would take a brave man to bet against Liverpool – or City – in the league these days, particularly given that they have already amassed a club-record haul of 91 points.