Liverpool vs Newcastle United Preview: Benítez looking to further bolster survival chances on Anfield return

Liverpool vs Newcastle United Preview: Benítez looking to further bolster survival chances on Anfield return

Rafael Benítez's romantic return to Anfield will have to be put to one side as his Newcastle United side look to battle the high-flying Liverpool in Saturday's evening kick-off.

Danial Kennedy

It is expected to be a very welcome return to Anfield for Rafael Benítez, but it will be business as usual for Newcastle United as they look to better their survival chances against the high-flying Liverpool. 


Keep the pressure on the Red Devils 

It has been another excellent season for the Reds as they continue their battle near the top of the Premier League, and they will be hoping to get ahead of Manchester United if only briefly ahead of next Saturday's crucial derby. 

Jürgen Klopp's men head into the clash as the in form side having remained unbeaten in their last five matches, and as expected have been free scoring heading into last weekend's clash with West Ham United off the back of a 5-0 win away in Portugal against Porto. 

They didn't go back a gear against The Hammers as goals from Emre Can, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané cancelled out Michail Antonio's effort for the 4-1 win, and considering Newcastle's position they will be hoping of a extra boost ahead of the trip to Old Trafford. 


Coming home 

It is expected to be a very welcome return for Benítez who spent six years on Anfield Road, but his full focus will be on keep his Magpies afloat and push them further away from the relegation zone. 

Fans' optimism on the return to the top-flight was quickly flattened and have been in free fall ever since as they have teetered on the edge of the relegation zone in recent weeks and months, but performances have began to pick up in the last few games that will give fans some optimism. 

United in fact have remained undefeated in their last four league matches with the 1-0 win over Manchester United being the pinnacle, it seemed to be getting better on the South Coast last week with Dwight Gayle giving them a two goal lead at Bournemouth but let a lead slip yet again for a 2-2 draw. 

They will be buoyed having managed to grab a 1-1 draw against The Reds back in October, but having failed to win at Anfield since 1994 it's going to take something special for Benítez to take three points back to Tyneside. 


Team news 

A boost for the home side will be return of skipper Jordan Henderson having been rested last week, but James Milner is a minor doubt having picked up a knock against David Moyes' side. 

Illness seems a key factor on Klopp's men with Danny Ings recovering to rejoin the squad, but Georgino Wijnaldum and Ben Woodburn continue to struggle. 

The big blow for Benítez will be the absence of talismanic midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, he wont be fit to face his former club after damaging his knee last week and though not believed to be serious he is still being assessed. Gayle and Matt Ritchie are expected to be fit, but Islam Slimani and Jesús Gámez both remain out. 

Liverpool will host Newcastle United at Anfield on Saturday, March 3 with kick-off at 5:30pm GMT.