Match Preview: Newcastle (h) – Gerrard returns

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Liverpool entertain relegation threatened Newcastle United at Anfield on Sunday lunchtime, hoping that Middlesbrough can have done them a favour 24 hours earlier when they host Man United.

A result in Boro – and Liverpool’s – favour and this match will take on even more importance in the title race.

Despite being three points behind having played a game more, Liverpool refuse to give up hopes of denying their rivals a record-equalling eighteenth League title. Rafa Benitez’s side know all they can do is concentrate on winning their four remaining fixtures, starting against Alan Shearer’s Magpies.

Benitez is boosted by the return of captain Steven Gerrard who has missed the Reds’ last four fixtures with a groin strain. He will slot in behind record signing Fernando Torres up front.

For Shearer, it’s not so good news, with defenders Luis Enrique and Steven Taylor both ruled out. They are likely to have former Red Michael Owen up front alongside both Oba Martins and Mark Viduka.

The corresponding fixture at St. James’ Park resulted in one of Liverpool’s best performances of the season as they ran out emphatic 5-1 winners. Rafa Benitez reflected ‘œWe were really good. We were in control, we had a lot of chances and their goalkeeper was man of the match. It was nearly a perfect game for us.”

He knows it will be different this time around though as the North East side look to get their first win under Shearer, ‘œIt will be different this time because they have a different manager and are in a different situation”, said Rafa. “Clearly they need to win so I don’t think they’ll be waiting and waiting for a draw.”

This fixture last season saw Gerrard and Torres at the height of their partnership, with both on the scoresheet. A goal for Torres on Sunday would be his 50th for the club.

Liverpool (from): Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Hyypia, Aurelio, Dessena, Insua, Benayoun, Gerrard, Alonso, Mascherano, Babel, Lucas, Kuyt, Torres, Riera, Ngog, Cavalieri.

Newcastle (from): Harper, Forster, Krul, Beye, Bassong, Coloccini, Edgar, Cacapa, Butt, Duff, R Taylor, Gutierrez, Nolan, Guthrie, Barton, Lovenkrands, Geremi, Smith, Martins, Owen, Viduka, Carroll, Xisco, Ranger.

Kick off is 1:30pm (UK), live on Setanta Sports.
Referee is Phil Dowd.

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