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Balotelli backed by Gerrard as Liverpool travel to Newcastle

The last time Liverpool won at St James’ Park was two years ago. On that day, the game finished 6-0 and the Reds managed victory without Luis Suarez in the squad.

It could be an omen, and a result Brendan Rodgers would so sorely crave to turn around the club’s season. Coral are offering odds of 200/1 on the same scoreline, though such a result would do little to appease Magpies fans that were getting on manager Alan Pardew’s back earlier in the campaign.

Encouragingly for Liverpool, who are evens for the win, Mario Balotelli seems to have hit some form, having netted in the Capital One Cup against Swansea City. He is 9/2 to strike the first goal, while in the 6-0 victory two seasons ago, Fabio Borini also scored and is 7/4 to do so again anytime.

Steven Gerrard spoke recently about teammate Mario Balotelli, amid reports that he may not last the season, and could be sold. “It’s a bit early for shouts like that. He could score 10 in 10 now. What then? You still sell him in January?” said Gerrard.

“Mario’s scored two in 12 games and when you play for Liverpool you are going to get judged harshly compared to Luis and Daniel [Sturridge], but Mario has the ability to turn it around. Then it will be interesting to see everyone’s opinion. People won’t be saying he is a panic buy then.

“He needs time to score the goals and prove to be people he is worthy of staying here. I am not going judge him after 10 games. I have to help and support him. To come in after Suarez is tough. A big ask,” continued Gerrard, who is 9/4 to net anytime.

“To be a main striker at Liverpool you have to expect the pressure and the responsibility and embrace it. Our fans expect us to win every game. To be top drawer you have to be quick and aggressive but above everything else you have to score regularly. Look at the ones I have played with – [Robbie] Fowler, [Michael] Owen, Suarez, and [Fernando] Torres – consistent with goals.

Newcastle say striker Papiss Cisse is ‘touch and go’, which means Ayoze Perez, who arrived on Tyneside from Tenerife in the summer, could be set for another start. The 21-year-old scored the winner against Tottenham, and is 8/1 to net last against the Reds, or 11/4 anytime. Meanwhile, should Cisse feature, he is 7/1 to score first.

The home side followed up their win at White Hart Lane with a 2-0 victory at the Etihad in the Capital One Cup in midweek, with Moussa Sissoko on target. The Frenchman is 5/1 to follow up with a goal in the anytime market.