Newcastle United-Liverpool Preview
By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) -- At one point for Liverpool, it was all right there.
Now, their title hopes hinge on a win and a prayer.
The Reds cap their season at Anfield versus Newcastle United, knowing a victory and an unlikely loss by Manchester City is the only combination that can provide their first Premier League trophy.
Manager Brendan Rodgers and his side appeared well on their way to maintaining pressure on City, rolling to a 3-0 lead on 55 minutes Monday night at Crystal Palace. But Liverpool's smash-and-grab raid for more goals in a bid to reduce Manchester City's superior goal differential went off the rails in cataclysmic fashion as the Eagles found gaping holes on the counter and struck three times after the 78th minute in a draw that crushed Liverpool's dreams of grandeur.
"To have that much control and good concentration and organisation in the game, for it to slip with 12 minutes to go shouldn't happen," Rodgers told the team's official website. "I've watched it three times since and I'm still in shock when I see us end up drawing the game 3-3."
The match has been quickly thrust into historical lore, with the term "reverse Istanbul" added to the team's lexicon, a reference to Liverpool's 2005 Champions League title in which they rallied from 3-0 down to tie AC Milan before winning in penalties. The takeaway image - striker Luis Suarez inconsolable and in tears while hiding his face with his jersey as he and long-time captain Steve Gerrard walked off the pitch - typified the occasional cruel nature of how Liverpool (25-6-6) have been perpetually rebuffed for their first title since winning the First Division in 1990.
"We all know it's quite hard for City to lose it from the position they're in but we still have to believe that maybe something good will happen," midfielder Lucas Leiva said. "It's not in our hands anymore. It will only end at the end of the season and we still have Newcastle to play. We just have to keep going."
Suarez netted his league-leading 31st goal and can set a Premier League record for goals in a 38-match season with his next one, bettering the mark he shares with Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo. Suarez assisted on Daniel Sturridge's equaliser in the reverse fixture, a 2-2 draw at St James' Park on Oct. 19.
Midfielder Jordan Henderson returns after serving a three-match ban for his red card against Manchester City, who must lose at home to West Ham for Liverpool to pip them.
The Reds need four goals to match Chelsea's 2009-10 single-season Premier League record of 103.
Newcastle United (15-4-18) have secured a top-half finish, but their brutal 2014 form following the midseason sale of French midfielder Yohan Cabaye to Paris Saint-Germain has left the Magpies at a crossroads. They snapped a six-match losing streak May 3 with a 3-0 rout of Cardiff City, but even that came with controversy as some fans walked out in the 69th minute - a symbolic reference to 1969, when the team last lifted a trophy - to express their displeasure over owner Mike Ashley's reluctance to spend in the past two transfer windows.
Manager Alan Pardew took the brunt of the fan base's vocal angst during the victory, drawing boos any time he strayed near the touchline, and realises both improvements and reinforcements must come to Tyneside.
"I don't say this lightly: They're the best fans in the world, but they're upset," he said. "We need to respond to that as a club and look at a couple of things. Certainly on the playing side we need to recruit in the summer and make ourselves stronger for next season."
Liverpool are 15-3-0 in their last 18 league matches at Anfield versus Newcastle, though the Magpies ended a seven-game losing streak with a 1-1 draw in last season's corresponding fixture.
Updated May 9, 2014