Rafa retains survival belief

Manager Rafa Benitez is remaining calm about the position his Newcastle United team find themselves in in the Premier League standings.

The Magpies have garnered a mere two points from eight league games played so far this season and are still searching for a first victory of the campaign.

For us, the main thing is to keep working hard and doing the right things, even if you lose a game.

Rafa Benitez

However, having guided the Tynesiders away from danger last season, Benitez is not about to panic about the lowly placing of his side at the present time.

The Spaniard told the Northern Echo: "If you just analyse the situation now, we are in the bottom three, but Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Everton were in the bottom three after nine fixtures (last season) and none of them were relegated.

"Why? Because they were better and working harder and doing well and other teams were doing worse. For us, the main thing is to keep working hard and doing the right things, even if you lose a game.

"We need to do the right things, but even if you are right, you can lose. The team is good and the team will do well if we have confidence.

"Some of the players were doing well at the end of last season, but they are not doing so well now.

"We will need some time to make sure they go back to that level. In the meantime we have played four of the top six. So was anyone expecting that now we would be in the middle of the table? No, no-one."

The Magpies are currently priced at 9/4 to be relegated this season, while they are available at 4/11 to beat the drop.

View all Soccer betting

Benitez keeping Newcastle chins up

Rafael Benitez admits the Newcastle dressing room was dejected after their loss to Manchester United but is refusing to let them get too downhearted on their survival chances.

The Toon were on course for their first win of the season when they took a two goal lead at Old Trafford, Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto putting the visitors ahead after 10 minutes.

However, a remarkable second-half fightback from United saw them snatch all three points, Alexis Sanchez's stoppage-time header settling matters.

Newcastle remain second from bottom as a result of the 3-2 loss on two points and they are now 9/4 to be relegated back to the Championship this season.

Despite their current predicament, Benitez is refusing to panic and says this squad proved last term that they have what it takes to stay in the top-flight.

“Everybody was disappointed in the dressing room, but I told them we cannot complain about we did," said Benitez.

“Last year, we were in the bottom five teams in the table in December, and still we finished tenth.

This year, hopefully it will be the same.

“I said before the game they (Man United) are a good team, and they will be competing at the top of the table so it is a pity not to win.”

Newcastle will have the international break to reflect on their disappointing defeat to Manchester United, their sixth loss in the last seven outings in all competitions.

The north-east outfit will hope they can collect their first win of the season when they face Brighton at home on 20th October when the Premier League.

The Magpies are 6/5 for the win, with the draw 11/5 and the Seagulls 12/5.

View all Soccer betting

We can do better – Mourinho

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has admitted his side can do better as they prepare to face Newcastle United on Saturday.

The Red Devils are on a run of four games without a win and pressure has been starting to mount on Mourinho to turn things around.

Newcastle head to Manchester this weekend on the back of no wins in the Premier League this term and desperate to cause another upset.

Mourinho has admitted his side have been below par and says the whole focus is on getting a result against Rafa Benitez's outfit.

He told reporters: "Very important. I know we are in the beginning of October and you look at the tables all around Europe and the tables in September and October don’t reflect what is going to happen in a few months or at the end of the season.

"We can do much better. To do that we need points, points we lost in the last two Premier League matches. One point out of six, and we know that to improve that position, we need to win these three points.

"Our opponent for different reasons they also need the points. Very, very, very good coach. A team that is always very well organised especially against teams in top half of the table. The results they had against the top teams didn’t get them points yet this season but gave them very close results. Very difficult matches for the opposition, so we expect a very difficult match."

United are 4/9 to win, 7/2 to draw and 8/1 to lose to the Magpies at Old Trafford.

View all Soccer betting

Rudan praises ‘passionate’ Taylor

Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan has pointed to the arrival of defender Steven Taylor as something that can galvanise his club this season.

The Phoenix have signed Taylor on a one-year deal, with the option for a second season, and Rudan stresses that the former Newcastle United player is fully committed to the cause.

As someone who played more than 200 games for Newcastle over the space of 13 years, the coach is sure Taylor can bring that experience to bear.

Rudan, who made the 32-year-old his first signing after being made coach, said: "I knew I needed someone who is a fantastic individual, a great leader himself, who has a real positive frame of mind through his experiences in life and football.

"We spoke to a number of players overseas – Taylor wasn't the only one – but he was the one that stood out from the conversations we had; he was very passionate about wanting to make a difference."

Rudan says Taylor, who arrives after a spell with Peterborough United, was fully behind the vision of what the Phoenix were wanting to do.

With the club facing an uncertain future as the end of their A-League licence approaches, the coach sees the defender as a focal point for fans.

"He has started the trend – for a club like ours where we need to do things a bit differently, to get into the community and show we care, so he's very important," added the coach.

Wellington, who finished next to bottom in the table last season, have signed five other players during the close season including Polish duo Filip Kurto and Michal Kopczynski.

Wellington are 33/1 to win the A-League Grand Final.

The Phoenix are 9/5 to finish in the top six.

View all Soccer betting

Rondon’s injury concerns Rafa

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez is unsure whether Salomon Rondon will be fit enough to play against Leicester City this weekend.

The Venezuela international striker had to be substituted at half-time on Saturday in the goalless draw at Crystal Palace with a quad injury.

Joselu came on to replace Rondon, who has failed to score in the Premier League for the Magpies since joining on a season-long loan deal from West Brom last month.

The 29-year-old will be assessed to determine the severity of his injury, with Benitez admitting: "Yes, he was feeling a little bit tight.

"No [it was not a precaution], he was not feeling well. You could see that he was uncomfortable in the first half.

"It's too early [to say if he'll be ready for Leicester]. He said that he was fine. He was feeling it [his quad] a little bit when he was shooting."

Newcastle have failed to win any of their six Premier League matches so far this season and are 10/3 to be relegated and 29/20 to beat the Foxes on Saturday.

Benitez remains upbeat though, adding: "We did what we have to do in terms of effort. We have to improve on the ball. You saw against Palace, with just two or three passes we could be there, but we didn't do it so many times. We were missing this final pass."

Belief remains in Rafa’s mind

Rafa Benitez has urged fans of Newcastle United not to lose faith that the current side can improve and move away from the wrong end of the Premier League table.

The Magpies have picked up just one point from five games so far this season, with their latest outing ending in a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Arsenal.

However, the vastly-experienced Benitez refuses to be too downbeat about the situation, having guided his side to a tenth-placed last term in their first season back in the top-flight.

The Spaniard told Sky Sports: "Obviously we are disappointed because in the first half we did really well and deserved more. We were very close so the team is doing well in terms of organisation and in terms of work-rate.

"We were much better on the ball, especially in the first half, but still we have to improve that and keep the spirit. That is the key because we had this situation last year where we are losing games in a row and we finished tenth.

"That message has to be very clear for everyone. I have confidence in this group of players and hopefully we can start winning games soon."

Next up for the Tynesiders is a visit to Crystal Palace next Saturday, with the two sides having shared the spoils from a 1-1 draw in this fixture at Selhurst Park last season.

Newcastle are currently available at 10/3 to be relegated this season, with West Ham priced at 5/2 and Burnley 7/4.

View all Soccer betting

Key duo back for Newcastle

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez is relieved that Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie are available for Saturday's home match against Arsenal.

They key duo had missed the last two matches with thigh and knee problems respectively but are in contention to feature against the Gunners, 9/4 to finish in the top four this season.

"These kinds of weeks are very difficult, because we have players coming back (from international duty) so you have to check everyone and how they feel," said Benitez.

"We have Shelvey and Ritchie training, so no big issue – everyone was training. We have to decide now who can play and who cannot. But both Ritchie and Shelvey are in the squad."

The Magpies beat Arsenal 2-1 at St James' Park in April and are 14/1 to repeat that scoreline on Saturday and record a first Premier League victory of the campaign.

Benitez added: "Every game is different. We will try to set up a team that can win, with the tactics and everything we can do.

"We will decide before the game – we have been talking, we have been working on that, but we will try to do something that will be enough to win the game."

Gunners stay would suit Monreal

Spain international Nacho Monreal, who is in the last 12 months of his current Arsenal deal, is keen to sign a new contract with the club.

The 32-year-old, who moved to the Gunners from Malaga in January 2013, has featured in more than 150 Premier League matches for the club, finding the net on seven occasions.

Monreal, who scored for Unai Emery's team in last month's 3-1 victory against West Ham United, has revealed that new deal talks have started.

Barcelona are reportedly interested in signing Monreal on a free transfer, but the former Osasuna star said: "At the moment we are talking with the club.

"I've always said I am really happy, I feel very happy playing for Arsenal. I came [almost] six years ago. I have a good relationship with them.

"We are in contact in any moment so don't worry about that. I am happy here. That is the most important thing.

"My idea is to play in football until my body says 'Nacho, so sorry but that's the end. But I think it is far [away]. I hope so."

Arsenal lost their first two Premier League matches of the campaign but followed up their victory against the Hammers by winning 3-2 at Cardiff City last time out.

Emery's side are 9/4 to clinch a top-four spot this term and 17/20 to beat Newcastle United on Saturday with Monreal 5/1 to score at any time in the encounter.

Sane handed Citizens challenge

Manchester City wideman Leroy Sane has been challenged to regain his starting spot, having been left out of the squad altogether for the 2-1 win over Newcastle United.

The Germany international forward has yet to start a Premier League game this season and was forced to take a watching brief at teatime on Saturday as the Citizens edged past the visiting Magpies thanks to a thunderous strike from Kyle Walker.

Afterwards, head coach Pep Guardiola dismissed talk of a rift with Sane and challenged his player to show that he deserves to regain his position in the Citizens starting XI.

The Spaniard told reporters: "We have six strikers. Last time Phil Foden wasn't in the squad. I was sad to leave him out as I never see him training bad.

"We have a big squad and today it was Leroy, maybe next day it will be another one. Another day Raheem is out, Riyad or Bernardo or Sergio or Gabriel.

"We have six strikers and I took that decision on the opponent and what I saw every day. Leroy was so important last season and hopefully will be important for us this season.

"In the next games he will be ready to play. He played ten minutes (against Wolves) and he tried. He was not precise, but he tried."

City have taken ten points from a possible 12 so far this season and are now priced at 4/6 to retain their Premier League title, with Chelsea available at 10/1 and Liverpool 11/4.

View all Soccer betting

Karanka keen to build on shock win

Nottingham Forest boss Aitor Karanka hopes his side can replicate the form they showed in Wednesday's victory against Newcastle in the Championship.

Goals from Daryl Murphy, Matty Cash and Gil Dias helped Forest record a fine 3-1 win against Rafa Benitez's side in the second round of the Carabao Cup.

Forest spent heavily in the summer on new players but they have made a modest start to the Championship season, winning one and drawing four of their first five matches.

They can be backed at 9/2 to be promoted this season and at 7/2 to beat Brentford this weekend.

Former Middlesbrough manager Karanka said: "The team deserved a good performance. It has been clear that when we play our football, we are a very good team.

"I didn't say anything because I didn't like the excuses, but I could feel what was happening in the games in the league were normal. We showed against Newcastle that without the pressure of the league we are a very good team and now we have to learn to be ourselves and take that pressure off."

Meanwhile, Newcastle have only taken one point from their first three Premier League matches of the season and are now out of the Carabao Cup.

Benitez is not too disheartened though, saying: "I don't agree that Forest were the better team and I'm not concerned by how we played. I'm really pleased with the players that were on the pitch because they were trying their best."