Michael Owen returns to play at Anfield

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/m/michaelowen.jpg' class='caption'> Michael Owen scored his 158th and final goal for Liverpool the last time he played at Anfield against Newcastle.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:50 IST
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Michael Owen scored his 158th and final goal for Liverpool the last time he played at Anfield against Newcastle. When he returns 19 months later on Monday, the Magpies striker will be out to end third-place Liverpool's seven-match winning streak in the English Premier League. Newcastle bought Owen for US$30 million in August, one year after Liverpool had sold him to Real Madrid for half that amount. He has scored seven goals in eight games for Newcastle - including a hat trick against West Ham last week - to continue his prolific form. The 26-year-old has averaged about a goal every two games for England and Liverpool, while he netted 16 goals in 40 games for Madrid despite rarely making the starting team. "I'm sure Michael is really looking forward to going back and showing his old public what they are missing," Newcastle manager Graeme Souness said. "He's exactly what we thought we were getting - he can sniff goals out of nothing, and that's what makes him such a very, very special player." Newcastle's Celestine Babayaro, Stephen Carr, Steven Taylor, Emre Belozoglu and Charles N'Zogbia return from injury, but midfielder Scott Parker is suspended. Captain Alan Shearer needs one more goal to equal Jackie Milburn's club record of 200. Liverpool, which conceded its first goal in 12 games in losing the World Club Championship final 1-0 to Sao Paulo last week, is missing only the suspended Mohamed Sissoko. The 18th-round matches on Boxing Day marks the start of four rounds of league games in eight days. Meanwhile, Chelsea, which leads the standings by nine points, hosts Fulham; while second-place Manchester United is at home to West Bromwich Albion. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has injury doubts over left-back Asier Del Horno (leg) and midfielder Damien Duff (Achilles), while England defender Wayne Bridge has been linked with a loan move to Fulham in the January transfer window to improve his chances of making the World Cup squad. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is expected to bring back Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Edwin van der Sar from the team that beat Birmingham City 3-1 in the League Cup on Wednesday. Midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo is suspended. Scholes says United needs an early goal if it is to lessen the pressure and give itself a chance of catching Chelsea. "If we do get an early goal it really boosts our confidence and we feel we can go on and score a couple more," he said. "If we can start killing games off earlier, then maybe we will start scoring more freely." Tottenham, level with Liverpool on 31 points, hosts 19th-place Birmingham City, which plays Manchester United and Chelsea in its next two matches. "I think everyone can see it is lacking a bit," said Birmingham defender Matthew Upson. "You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see that, but it is up to us to address that. We need to work on that." Spurs midfielder Andy Reid is out for a month with a knee complaint, while striker Jermain Defoe injured his ankle ligaments last week and is in severe doubt. Teemu Tainio (knee) is out, but Wayne Routledge and Aaron Lennon return to bid for a midfield position. Elsewhere it's, Charlton vs. Arsenal; Aston Villa vs. Everton; Middlesbrough vs. Blackburn; Portsmouth vs. West Ham; Sunderland vs. Bolton; and Wigan vs. Manchester City. (AP)

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