The Magpies haven’t had something to play for in a while now and it’s shown as they’ve lost three of their past five winless outings. An injury crisis has left Steve Bruce with one arm tied behind his back, but while there are a number of defensive players still absent, he does have all his attacking options available.
Liverpool’s season had certainly been petering out, though they appeared to have rediscovered their mojo last time out as they saw off Chelsea in a 5-3 thriller at Anfield.
However, while the attack came fully to life, they’ve now kept just three cleans sheets in 14 appearances across all competitions and just one in six in the league. Even that came against Villa, while they shipped a total of 11 goals across those six matches this month, as even the imperious Virgil van Dijk’s standards have dropped.
The last time Jurgen Klopp’s charges played after a big party they were thrashed 4-0 by Man City and although the Magpies will be nowhere near as ruthless, the Reds’ defence could be forgiven for lacking a little concentration after such a stellar season.
Over 2.5 Goals
That should mean there are goals in this clash and in fact, each of the three meetings since the start of last season have featured at least four as Liverpool won these 4-0, 4-3 and 3-1. The Magpies are still without centre-backs Ciaran Clark, Fabian Schar, Florian Lejeune and Jamaal Lascelles, so the visitors will have a few players eyeing up a spot on the scoresheet.
Indeed, five of Newcastle’s last six outings have seen at least three goals, while four of these games witnessed a minimum of four. Further, the final day of the season can often produce some erratic scorelines, particularly when there’s no tension with nothing on the line.
Indeed, over the past six seasons, there have been at least three goals in 60% of matches in gameweek 38, compared to a more modest 48.24% over the rest of the season.
Newcastle have been level at the break in 10 of their last 16 now, including six of seven at St. James’ Park. In fact, a massive 14 of their 18 games here this term have ended level after the opening 45, as the likes of Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea have all been restricted to first half stalemates.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have led after the opening period in just one of their past six road trips (W1-D3-L2), and so the first half draw looks reasonably attractive at odds-against.