Preview: Liverpool v Newcastle

Liverpool will be targeting a fourth straight Premier League victory when they welcome former Reds boss Rafa Benitez and Newcastle side to Anfield on Saturday.

Competition: Premier League

Date: 23 April 2016

Gameweek 35

Kick-off 15:00 (GMT)

Venue: Anfield (Liverpool)

Referee: M. Atkinson

Assistants: S. Child, H. Lennard

Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM         MATCHES    WIN     DRAW    LOSS

Liverpool    147        69      36      42

Newcastle    147        42      36      69

Previous encounter:

Newcastle 2-0 Liverpool 06/12/15 (Premier League)

M. Skrtel (OG) 69′

G. Wijnaldum 90′

Players to watch:

Liverpool boast several players enjoying a rich vein of form, most notably striker Daniel Sturridge and midfielder James Milner. Sturridge has provided four goals and two assists in his last five league appearances, while Milner has four assists in his last three appearances.

For Newcastle, meanwhile, Andros Townsend appears to be a player on the up, with the England international bagging two goals in his last three appearances. Young goalkeeper Karl Darlow will be hoping for more of the same after keeping a clean sheet against Swansea before restricting Manchester to just one goal at the weekend. In fact, he was unlucky to concede as television replays showed that Sergio Aguero had scored from an offside position in the 1-1 draw at St James’ Park.

Team form and manager quotes:

The Merseysiders are currently on a four-match unbeaten run in the Premier League, having record three consecutive wins following a 1-1 draw with title hopefuls Tottenham at the start of February.

Their most recent result, a 4-0 triumph over local rivals Everton, lifted them up to seventh place in the Premier League standings, just two points behind West Ham with a game in hand.

Looking ahead to the clash, manager Jurgen Klopp insisted he did not have any problems with the Kop giving the returning Rafa Benitez a warm reception.

“I know him,” Klopp told reporters. “I like Rafa. He’s a really successful manager and a nice person.

“If someone wants to celebrate Rafa’s achievements here tomorrow that’s absolutely okay.

“I’m fine with this. Do how you feel.”

He added: “We know about the physical strength of Newcastle. They have a strong team.

“They don’t look like a relegation team. Only one of them, Sunderland and Norwich can stay up.

“We need a team who are really fit for this game. Four wins in a row means nothing for the next game. That’s just a number.”

Newcastle are in the thick of relegation scrap with just four games remaining and will be desperate to claim all three points in a bid to bolster their survival prospects.

The Magpies collected a crucial point in their quest to beat the drop after recording a 1-1 draw with Manchester city in midweek, a result that saw them move to within two points of 17th-placed Norwich City.

“We are fighting and they are fighting. They have a good manager and they have good players. The atmosphere will be fantastic,” Benitez said ahead of Saturday’s Anfield encounter.

“Everything people say about Liverpool I already know first hand. The atmosphere with the Geordies and Scousers will be electric.”

Team news:

Liverpool have been dealt a blow with the news striker Divock Origi is likely to miss the rest of the campaign with the serious ankle injury he suffered during the victory over Everton in midweek.

Christian Benteke (knee) is closing on a return but is not expected to feature, while defender Martin Skrtel(groin) faces a late fitness test.

Emre Can (ankle) won’t play again this season, while Jordan Henderson, Danny Ings and Joe Gomez remain on the treatment table.

For Newcastle, defensive duo Daryl Janmaat and Fabricio Coloccini (both groin) miss out, but Swiss defender Kevin Mbabu is available for selection after returning from injury.