Mark Lawrenson has been talking at length about the talent at Liverpool’s disposal ahead of Saturday’s match.
The former Liverpool player saying ‘everyone is raving’ about the form of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah but Roberto Firmino ‘has kicked on’ and ‘deserves more credit, after being ‘outstanding’.
Indeed all three players scored last weekend as Liverpool hammered West Ham 4-1, even though Lawrenson says the scousers didn’t hit the heights that they have been doing.
Whilst Liverpool have been hitting the heights when it comes to scoring goals (101 in all competitions so far), Newcastle have been hitting relative heights in terms of stopping goals going in, taking into account the meagre resources Rafa Benitez has had at his disposal.
They say there are ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics’ – but some statistics don’t lie.
In the eight Premier League games before Bournemouth, Newcastle had only conceded more than one goal when playing Manchester City.
More than that though, when Jamaal Lascelles has been in the starting eleven, Newcastle have now conceded more than one goal on only four occasions, including last Saturday.
This is becoming a much repeated set of statistics but that doesn’t make it any less true.
In those 22 matches where Lascelles has started, Newcastle have only lost by more than a one goal margin on a single occasion, at Man City.
Rafa and Jamaal help to make sure that Newcastle always stay in the game no matter what the situation or the opposition.
That may well change on Saturday because Liverpool have got good players but the statistics say that it won’t, or rather that it has a very very small chance of happening.
The stats also tell us that Liverpool have failed to win six of their 14 Premier League home games, including games against West Brom, Burnley and Everton.
We all know Liverpool have got a better quality team but that isn’t always how football works, as Newcastle’s win over Man Utd proves.
Mar Lawrenson says Liverpool will get a 2-0 win despite Rafa’s game plan aimed at a point.
The odds may be in Liverpool’s favour on Saturday but it is important to recognise that, despite the relative lack of money spent, Newcastle United do also have their own strengths.
Despite Rafa relying on counter-attacking and trying to generally restrict the opposition, in the six games so far against the top four clubs, Newcastle have scored in five of those matches, including the draw at home to Liverpool.
A repeat of the performance against Manchester United last month would/could make Saturday more than interesting from Newcastle’s perspective.
Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport:
“Liverpool beat West Ham 4-1 last weekend despite not hitting the heights that they have done recently.
“Everyone is raving about Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s form but Roberto Firmino has been outstanding too.
“Firmino has kicked on since Philippe Coutinho left for Barcelona in January, but Salah in particular has grabbed all the headlines.
“I think Firmino deserves more credit.
“This is a return to Anfield for Newcastle’s former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, but it probably won’t be a happy one.
“The Magpies threw away a 2-0 lead late on against Bournemouth last week and only drew.
“I am pretty sure Rafa will set his side up with the aim of getting a point this time, but I don’t think he will get it.
“Prediction is Liverpool 2 Newcastle 0.”
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