Ahead of today’s match, Michael Owen has been talking about the chances of Newcastle United staying up.
The player turned pundit says that Newcastle ‘have impressed me’ and that Rafa Benitez is Newcastle’s most important ‘player’ because of what he gets out of his limited resources in the Premier League.
Michael Owen also insists that there is quality in the attacking half for Newcastle, with Jonjo Shelvey able to open defences up and Matt Ritchie with ‘a great left foot’ especially on set-pieces.
Owen says that Rafa is ‘one of the best out there’ tactically and that he will keep Newcastle up ‘quite comfortably’.
Looking back on his own playing career, Michael Owen was asked who the best five players would be if he was making a 5-a-side team, from those he played with at Manchester United and Newcastle United.
Only one Newcastle United player makes it and no prizes for guessing who. Alan Shearer joined by Man U players Scholes, Ferdinand, Rooney, and Van der Sar.
Michael Owen talking to 90min:
‘Best five players played with at Newcastle and Man Utd to make up a 5-a-side team?’
“Ok, I’ll put Shearer in, then Rooney, Van der Sar in goal.
“Rio Ferdinand and…I’ll put myself on the bench, put Scholes in.”
‘Newcastle United ?’
“Since Newcastle have been back in the Premier League, they have impressed me.
“I think Rafa Benitez is probably the most important ‘player’ in their squad because he squeezes every little bit out of that team.
“They have got flair players. Jonjo Shelvey is an attacking midfield player that can open a defence up. Matt Ritchie – he has got a great left foot…set-pieces, good delivery.
“There are some really good players in their squad but Rafa Benitez has looked at the overall picture and thought ‘how are we going to get our best results?’ and so he plays more of a tight game.
“Tactically he is one of the best out there and I think he’s going to keep Newcastle out (of relegation trouble) quite comfortably, by squeezing every little bit of ability out of the players.”