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Nic Ladds 26th Dec 2008 - 21:52

Rafa’s Reds march to a different Toon

Newcastle haven't been beaten at St James' Park for three months but rising injury concerns and Robbie Keane's Boxing Day form could end the march of the Toon.

Rafa Benitez's recent return from injury - kidney stones - means he will be joined on the bench by Reds' hero Fernando Torres, whose hamstring looks to be all but fully recovered.

Should Robbie Keane - 5/1 in the betting to score the first goal and 5/4 to hit the target at any point - not get the job done, Rafa can look over his shoulder safe in the knowledge that the firepower is there if required; the firepower being 9/2 to score the first goal, or at this point in the match, the last goal.

Newcastle, however, have a whole other world of injuries to contend with and have a team which probably picks itself due to the lack of options for ref-hating Joe Kinnear. After the Boxing Day 2-1 loss to Wigan, the Toon not only host the current top-of-the-table team, but do so with Joey Barton, Habib Beye, Mark Viduka, Sebastien Bassong and Jose Enrique, among others, all MIA.

Michael Owen is surprisingly fit and ready to do what he does best - when he played for Liverpool, he scored 13 goals against his current employers, including five at this stadium. 13/2 says he can score the first of the match.

Both teams may be feeling the strain due to the frequency of their matches, as they've both had only one day off between their Boxing Day games and Sunday's fixtures.

It's an important game for both teams involved, and there will be eyes watching from London and Manchester based camps as well, because Liverpool, if victorious at 8/11, will head into 2009 leading the Premier League on 45 points.

Newcastle, on the other hand, could breathe a sigh of relief over the New Year as three points for the Toon may break them into the top ten. If you fancy the home win, you can have some value at 7/2.

Possible profits:

Robbie Keane to score a goal anytime at 5/4

Fernando Torres to score the last goal at 9/2

Michael Owen to score the first goal at 13/2

Newcastle/Liverpool double result at 20/1

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