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Rafa Benitez explains exactly why Newcastle are in the relegation zone and why it’s no surprise

3 years ago

Rafa Benitez finds himself in the relegation zone six weeks into the season.

Only five Premier League match gone so far but once you are down there it is imperative you get out as soon as possible, as otherwise every subsequent match becomes so much harder.

West Ham won 3-1 at Everton to climb out of the relegation zone, Newcastle dropping to 19th.

The Hammers had looked really poor so far but when you do invest in your squad, it does have a habit of eventually showing on the pitch.

Three starters yesterday cost West Ham a combined £75m and one of them, winger Yarmalenko, scored two cracking goals, along with last summer’s £20m+ buy Arnautovic getting the other.

As for Rafa Benitez, he felt that longer-term it was unwise to risk £2m loan signing Salomon Rondon, meaning Newcastle had to rely on sub-£7m duo Joselu and Perez up front.

Money doesn’t count for everything but if Newcastle have to rely very much on this pair, then the writing is surely on the wall this season.

Not that they were the only weak links on Saturday but up front, lack of quality is a killer.

Rafa Benitez was impressed with the hard work of his players against Arsenal in the first half and says that the Newcastle fans appreciate that.

However, all the manager can do is give us the keep working harder message and to stay together: ‘It is very clear, we must be Newcastle…UNITED.’

The Gunners were shocking in that first half and any team with half decent quality going forward would have been a couple of goals up, Newcastle aren’t that team.

Both Rafa and the fans desperately need Shelvey, Rondon and Kenedy in the team at Palace on Saturday, none of them world beaters but they are the best Newcastle have in terms of quality in the final third.

We all know that the fixture list has been very unkind but with Palace and Man Utd away, plus Leicester at home, the next three games aren’t exactly guarantees of any points.

The run that took Newcastle to safety in that February to April run, saw Rafa get his best team on the pitch and it hardly changed until staying up was guaranteed. Now he needs to get his new best eleven playing week in week out and see where that takes us.

Tough times on and off the pitch but as usual, the experience and expertise of this manager is the only hope in this situation, of better times ahead.

Rafa Benitez:

“It is very clear.

“We must be Newcastle…UNITED.

“When we are united we are stronger – it is the only way for us.

“The fans realise why we are where we are and so I don’t think the players have to be worried about pressure, as the fans have been really good.

“They’re clever enough to know that the best way possible to go forward is to continue supporting the team.

“If the players work hard like (they did) in the first half then that is something the fans appreciate.

“It is a disappointing when you are so close in some games and you cannot get what you want, but the reality is, we have played four of the top six sides in the league and to be where we are may not be a surprise for a lot of people.

“We know it is difficult but we still have to carry on.

“It is not a question of confidence as you know the other team (Arsenal) is very strong, so with all of the hard work we did in the first half and to concede so early after the break, then to concede the second goal a few minutes later. It’s quite difficult to manage.

“We need to improve managing the game.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Arsenal 2


Newcastle: Clark 90+1

Arsenal: Xhaka 49, Ozil 58

Possession was Arsenal 64% Newcastle 36%

Total shots were  Arsenal 12 Newcastle 4

Shots on target were Arsenal 2 Newcastle 2

Corners were  Arsenal 4 Newcastle 10

Referee: Lee Probert

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles (Clark 46), Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie (Muto 79), Diame, Hayden, Murphy (Kenedy 69), Perez, Joselu

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Manquillo, Rondon, Shelvey

Crowd: 52,165 (3,200 Arsenal approx)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Arsenal 2 – Read HERE)

(A third relegation in 10 years on the cards? Read HERE)

(Match ratings of all NUFC players after the defeat – Read HERE)

(Phil Thompson had some strong views on the match – Read HERE)


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