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Rafa Benitez press conference fitness update and declares “If I say Arsenal are favourites, I am not playing games”

4 years ago

Rafa Benitez has been speaking to the media on Friday lunchtime.

The United boss talking to journalists ahead of the game at St James Park against Arsenal on Sunday.

Rafa having one big message for fans and players, he wants them to keep giving it everything until the end of the season.

The Spaniard believing that the fan support has definitely made the team improve this season.

Rafa Benitez has also pointed to the arrival of Kenedy and Dubravka as being key to this turnaround in 2018.

As for Sunday’s opposition, Rafa claims that Arsenal are favourites to win the game but Newcastle still are capable of beating them.

Last night Arsene Wenger played his first choice team with the Europa League being the big priority but Rafa Benitez claims this doesn’t give Newcastle an advantage.

I think this clearly is a situation where the Newcastle manager most definitely knows it is a massive help to Newcastle but can’t be saying it in public.

There were more positives for the NUFC boss as today he also revealed that whilst Arsenal are set to be missing a fair few players, instead Newcastle have a full squad to choose from, Benitez stating that everybody has been training.

Rafa Benitez:

“Everybody has been training, so it’s good news.

“It’s always important to have competition but then you have to leave some players out of the squad.

“To be fair, it has been really good.

“When you are at the bottom of the table and start winning as we have been, you cannot wish for better things.

“We are doing well and hopefully we can carry on.

“In January, when we brought Dúbravka and Kenedy in, they gave us competition so everyone was trying harder.

“That was a key factor. The mentality is good.

“In the last game [at Leicester], we did well under pressure.

“We had chances, we were strong and doing well.

“Is it better to have a good tackle or header, or pass the ball really well?

“You do what you have to do to win.

“We are winning, everyone is fit and sometimes you don’t need to change.

“The players are working hard. At the moment, they are fine.

“It was a really good training session today [Friday]. I’m really pleased with the players.

“Normally, you can be tired  [after travelling]

“At the same time, if you have a big squad, you will be fine. I don’t think it [Arsenal playing in Moscow on Thursday night] will be an advantage for us.

“Forty points is the mark. We are closer than before, but still, two points will be the key and the mark we are aiming for.

“If any players has any doubt, I will put another player on the pitch.

“The reality is that Arsenal is one of the top sides in English football.

“Very good players, very good manager with great experience.

“If I say they are favourites, I am not playing games. [But] I have confidence that we can beat them.

“We have to approach the game in the same way as we have the last games. The same intensity – from the first minute to the last minute.

“I don’t want the fans to relax.

“I want them to keep pushing and supporting like they have all season and enjoy it.

“The relationship between players and fans has been key. The team is stronger. They can play better.”


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