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Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Champions League - FC Porto vs Liverpool (0-2 Agg)


When the draw for the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League was made, many seen FC Porto and Ajax Amsterdam as the ‘easy’ ties. Liverpool, though, found out that, despite winning 2-0, Porto are no mugs. Can the Reds go to Portugal and produce a similar performance to the masterful display that they offered here in 2018?

FC Porto News


If the Dragons are to do something special here, they’ll be doing so without Vincent Aboubakar. The Cameroon international misses out here, but Porto will be buoyed by the return of Yacine Brahimi, Pepe and Hector Herrera. As three of the most important players for the Portuguese, it will be interesting to see how Liverpool handle a more in-form FC Porto side.

Expect Moussa Marega to offer ample threat in the wide areas and up front. Meanwhile, the onus will be on Herrera and Danilo Perreira to control what will be a hotly contested midfield.

Liverpool News


The only doubt here for Liverpool will be that of Jordan Henderson. The Reds captain, rejuvenated as an 8 in recent weeks, has been integral to some excellent form for the Reds. The return of Andy Robertson, though, will help to make up for his loss. Expect Naby Keita or Georginio Winaldum to get a game in the middle alongside Fabinho.

Dejan Lovren might come in for this one, having impressed in the Anfield match after a long injury lay-off. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez are nearing a return to fitness, but will likely miss out here: the lead is not large enough to risk either.

Verdict


Score draw. Liverpool to open the scoring and render the tie almost impossible to win for Porto. Porto, though, are no fools: they are European giants in their own right and have improved massively from last year. An exciting & intense score draw.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Newcastle vs Palace


With both sides fighting out for the ‘glory’ of mid-table comfort, Newcastle United welcome Crystal Palace. This has been a rather dull affair in recent years, with only one thriller – the 5-1 shellacking that Palace handed out in November 2015 – standing out. Most games are single goal affairs, and the first encounter this year produced a meek 0-0. With both sides in total comfort and probably not much to play for, expect both sides to perhaps play with a bit of freedom. Often, though, this can also breed conservatism.

Newcastle News


The Toon will be looking to recover from a rather listless loss against Arsenal on Monday. They produced little and came forward without much gusto, and were soundly beaten by the better team. Knowing that a win would give them more or less total safety and put them ahead of Palace does offer incentive for the home side.

They’ll be looking for Salomon Rondon to continue his good firm, backed up by his companion in Ayoze Perez. The pair have struck up a good partnership this year, and could be important for any three points gathered in this one.

Crystal Palace News


The Eagles have nothing to really play for, except for places in the team next year. Some significant change is expected to come in the summer, with likes of Wilfried Zaha and Aaron Wan-Bissaka expected to move on to bigger clubs. Until then, though, more signature wins – like one at St. James Park – could help get some of their better players even more impressive moves.

With security more or less assured, too, Palace can afford to play without the usual conservatism that a Roy Hogdson side sticks to.

Verdict


Score draw. Newcastle are flagging a little, and without the feelgood factor of a Rafael Benitez extension (though being discussed) means there is not much on this match. Both sides will go for it, but we can’t see it being enough to create anything other than a solid score draw.