Ahead of Liverpool's Premier League meeting with Newcastle United, a reunion with Rafael Benitez, read our guide to the Magpies…

The manager

Little introduction needed here, of course.

Benitez held the reins at Anfield for six years after joining the club from Valencia in the summer of 2004, and spectacularly brought home the European Cup in his first season in charge of the Reds.

The Spaniard guided Liverpool to FA Cup glory the following year, too, and built up an unbreakable bond with the fans and local community that ensures a warm welcome on Saturday evening.

Recent form

Newcastle have accrued six points from a four-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.

Since losing at the home of runaway leaders Manchester City in mid-January, they have drawn with Burnley (1-1), Crystal Palace (1-1) and Bournemouth (2-2), and beaten Manchester United (1-0).

With 10 games to go, Benitez’s side are 15th in the table and hold just a two-point cushion above the relegation zone, though equally are only four points away from the top half.

Key men

Dwight Gayle became the team’s top scorer in the Premier League, with five, by notching a brace in their previous outing against Bournemouth. The striker is expected to be fit for the trip to Anfield.

Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka signed on loan from Sparta Prague in the January transfer window and has impressed in the past two matches, recording a clean sheet against Jose Mourinho’s United.

Last time out

The first clash of the season at St James’ Park ended in a 1-1 draw in October.

A brilliant strike from the edge of the area from Philippe Coutinho put the visitors in front, only for Joselu to net a fortuitous finish at the other end within seven minutes.

Jürgen Klopp’s men had 67.8 per cent of the possession but failed to break through again as just one more shot was on target.


“It is not like we can control the game by passing the ball, because as soon as they regain, they are really good. You saw against Porto [in the Champions League], the way they were playing on the counter-attack. But then when they have the ball, the way they pass the ball, the pace and the ability they have, it is so difficult that you have to have this confidence coming from the game against Manchester United and the first half against Bournemouth.”