Ex-Man Utd forward Dimitar Berbatov has backed Liverpool to beat Newcastle United 2-0 in their upcoming Premier League clash at Anfield on Monday, January 1.
The Reds have been in good form in the Premier League this season with 12 wins, 6 draws and 1 loss so far and find themselves at the summit of the table with 42 points from 19 games, two points ahead of second-placed Arsenal.
Jurgen Klopp and company will be fancying their chances of securing all three points against Newcastle. The Magpies have lost four out of their last five league games and have dropped to ninth in the table with 29 points.
Moreover, the Reds won the reverse fixture 2-1 earlier this season at St. James’ Park. They are also unbeaten against Newcastle in their last 14 games — a run that goes back to December 2015.Berbatov made his prediction, writing (via Betfair):
“So many games have taken its toll on Newcastle. Even though they are out of the Champions League, they now have a taste for it, despite with the fatigue in the body, emotions running high and the experience. After that though, you have games like against Nottingham Forest where everyone expects you to win, but because of playing so many games, you don’t.”
“And now, they have a tough game at Liverpool. Klopp’s side are doing so well at the moment, and beat Burnley away last time. Liverpool will want to win the league again, and I think with the way they are performing with Salah leading the charge, it’s another winnable game.”
“They can take advantage of Newcastle, who have not been concentrating in some of their games. Liverpool will press them and make them make mistakes, so I will go with a Liverpool win.”
Berbatov’s Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle
Meanwhile Klopp has addressed how Liverpool will deal with Mohamed Salah’s absence in January.
The manager detailed Liverpool’s plan for playing without Mohamed Salah in January following the Newcastle clash. The Egyptian King is set to depart to link up with the Egypt national team for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The AFCON is set to kickoff on January 13 and will end on February 11. If Egypt were to progress all the way to the final, Salah could potentially miss up to eight matches.
The 31-year-old has been in exceptional form this season, helping the Reds challenge for the Premier League title. He has scored 16 goals and provided eight assists in 26 appearances across all competitions to date.
Klopp said (via Liverpool’s official website):
“Each long-term plan I could have had depends massively on who is available, so why should I think in October who I can use when Mo is away when I have no clue who is then available? We would have solutions today and I hope we have that after the Newcastle game as well.”
“It’s not the first time, it’s a really at least very average situation that you lose your goalscorer but we had it even worse in the past when Sadio and Mo left, and we came somehow through it. And traditionally one of them always went pretty far in the tournament, which makes it then even worse.”
“We have to get through this. So we knew that the African Cup of Nations from time to time appears and then Mo has to go – that was always clear. And now we have with Endo a participant of the Asian Cup as well, so it is like it is. We knew it and now we have to deal with it and we will.”
In addition, the Reds will also be without the services of Wataru Endo in January as he is set to captain Japan in the Asian Cup.