Liverpool’s season is coming to a conclusion. Will they finish it by lifting two trophies? One? Or none? And how much of an impact could five familiar faces have on their success?
Liverpool are competing for the Premier League title – one point behind Manchester City with two games to play – while they also face Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League, with the first leg at the Nou Camp on May 1 and the return leg on May 7.
Who are the former players and managers who could prove decisive in the outcome of Liverpool’s season over the next few weeks?
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Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho
Jurgen Klopp has described them as “Liverpool legends” – but Suarez and Coutinho might get differing receptions when they return to Anfield for the first time in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Suarez is likely to get a better ovation, having nearly fired Liverpool to the Premier League title before he left with a “heavy heart” to join Barcelona in 2014. Coutinho had a longer spell at Liverpool than Suarez but departed under a cloud in January 2018, having handed in a transfer request the previous summer.
However they are received by supporters, both could have a big say in an eagerly-anticipated tie.
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Suarez has been a consistent scorer for Barca in his five years with the club, hitting at least 20 goals in every season. He will be keen to end a scoring drought in the Champions League that has seen him fail to find the net since April 2018 and score only two goals in his last 26 matches in the competition.
Coutinho has struggled to secure a regular starting spot since joining Barca, but did score a superb goal in the quarter-final win over Manchester United. He said recently that he is “very excited” to be facing Liverpool.
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The closest Benitez got to winning the Premier League title during his six-year spell with Liverpool was in 2008/09 when he helped secure a runners-up spot behind Manchester United.
Benitez’s Newcastle have already had a say in this season’s title race as they beat Manchester City in January. However, they could dent Liverpool’s chances when they meet on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.
Liverpool beat Newcastle 4-0 at Anfield earlier in the season, but have failed to win on their last four visits to St James’ Park, losing twice and drawing twice. Newcastle have also proved to be tough opposition at home in 2019, winning six of their last seven league games in front of their own supporters.
But, with survival already assured, how much motivation will there be to beat Liverpool?
Newcastle vs Liverpool
May 4, 2019, 7:00pm
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers has first-hand experience of a Liverpool-Manchester City title race.
He came agonisingly close to winning the title as Liverpool manager in 2013/14, only to be pipped to the post by City, who finished two points ahead after Steven Gerrard’s infamous “slip” proved costly against Chelsea.
Could Rodgers now play a part in helping to end Liverpool’s 29-year wait for a league title?
Rodgers’ Leicester face a trip to Manchester City for their penultimate match of the season on Monday, May 6, live on Sky Sports.
Leicester have already taken points from City this season as they won 2-1 at the Etihad in December. They also took City to penalties in the Carabao Cup shortly before their league victory.
Man City vs Leicester
May 6, 2019, 7:00pm
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However, Graeme Souness said on Sky Sports after seeing City beat Burnley on Sunday that he doesn’t expect the Foxes to cause an upset.
“Leicester will be tailor-made for Man City. They’re a young team who like to play on the front foot, I don’t see them shutting up shop. It could be a great game, but it should play into City’s hands.”
So if not Leicester, could a Liverpool fan and former Liverpool youngster impact the title race on the final day?
Coady came through the Liverpool academy but only made two first-team appearances before leaving in 2014. He is now captain at Wolves, who travel to Anfield on the final day of the season.
Speaking in December, Coady told the Liverpool ECHO that he wants his former side to win the title.