Etheridge saves point for Cardiff

Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was the hero for his team, saving a 96th minute penalty to secure Cardiff's first point of the season.

They drew 0-0 at home to Newcastle but were prepared for defeat when the referee pointed to the spot deep into stoppage time after Sean Morrison had handled in the area.

Kenedy stepped up to take the penalty for Newcastle but Etheridge went the right way, keeping it out and the final whistle sounded immediately afterwards to leave the game goalless.

Both sides lost their opening game so got off the mark with a point and Etheridge took the positives after the game, telling Sky Sports: "We could have won it, but with a penalty in the last minute I will take a point and be happy to move onto next week.

"We don't want that to become a regular occurrence [conceding and saving a penalty], but we deserved at least a point. We knew we would have a chance at home and needed to get points on the board.

"It is not easy to step up in the 90th minute and take a penalty, but today I came out victorious."

Newcastle, though regretting the penalty miss, had the consolation of getting a point after having had to play much of the second half with 10 men, Isaac Hayden seeing red for a challenge on Josh Murphy.

Cardiff went close through Kenneth Zohore who had a header cleared off the line but failed to make their extra man advantage pay, though they were grateful the late penalty drama at least enabled them to escape with a point.

Cardiff will seek a first win of the season away at Huddersfield next Saturday. They are 5/2 to get the three points with the Terriers 6/5 and the draw 21/10.

Cardiff are 17/2 to win the game 1-0.

View all Soccer betting

Rondon relishes Magpies opportunity

Venezuelan loan striker Salomon Rondon is eager to impress in a bid to secure a permanent move to Newcastle United from West Bromwich Albion.

The 28-year-old exited the Baggies following their relegation for the Premier League and has a chance to secure a long-term stay on Tyneside if he shows up well for Rafa Bentiez's side this season.

And, having made his Magpies bow as a substitute in the 2-1 defeat by Tottenham last weekend, Rondon is now aiming to step things up, starting against Cardiff City on Saturday afternoon.

He told The Chronicle: "Yes, moving here permanently is my personal target and the only way to do that of course is to score goals train really, really hard to hold on to my place.

"I feel lucky. The situation when West Brom went down was difficult and I am just really grateful to be back in the Premier League again.

"In my career, I have played in different leagues with different players and I know this is the biggest move of my career. That is why I want to stay here permanently."

Newcastle have won on their last five visits to Cardiff, with their last trip to the home of the Bluebirds ending in a 2-0 victory in April 2017, when Christian Atsu and Isaac Hayden were on the scoresheet.

The Magpies are 29/20 to win again on Saturday, with Rondon 5/2 to score at any time and 13/2 to net the final goal of the game.

View all Soccer betting

Home form vital for Warnock

Neil Warnock has indicated that Harry Arter could make his debut for Cardiff City on Saturday in the Premier League match against Newcastle United.

The 28-year-old is on loan in south Wales from Bournemouth but did not feature in last week's 2-0 loss against his parent club.

However, Warnock is keen to use Arter against the Magpies, who began their Premier League campaign with a 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham.

Warnock is aware that Cardiff are favourites to be relegated this season but believes their home form could be crucial in keeping them out of the bottom three.

"I think it's an exciting time for everybody at the club," he said. "It's going to be a cracking crowd and promises to be a great atmosphere. It's a great feeling.

"Newcastle are a good team to be playing. They've improved their squad from last year when they finished 10th, so they'll be looking to finish in the top half of the table this season.

"It's great how far we've come and I think we're capable against anyone at home. It's 11 against 11 and we're looking forward to it.

"We're just looking to get as many points as we can and the home games are going to be crucial.

"Harry [Arter] is likely to be in the squad. He's such an enthusiastic young man and on the training ground, he's full of beans."

Cardiff, 9/4 to beat Newcastle, are 4/7 to be relegated this season. Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez's team can be backed at 5/2 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table this term.

Dier plays down lack of signings

Tottenham Hotspur utility man Eric Dier is determined to help his side defy the critics this season, with Spurs having not made a single summer signing.

The Londoners opened their new Premier League campaign with a 2-1 victory at Newcastle United on Saturday, with Spurs aiming to continue a run which has seen them finish third, second and third places in the top-flight in the last three seasons.

And England international Dier has played down the importance of no new faces having been added since last season, insisting that there is more than enough quality on display already at the club.

He told the Evening Standard: "It's a great challenge for us to shut everyone up – we're going to enjoy that challenge.

"We've got a fantastic squad, to strengthen it is not easy. All the other teams around us might have signed players, but not many of those are better than the players they've already got.

"For the past three years we've been challenging the best teams in this country and last year we were challenging the best in the Champions League with the squad that we have here (already)."

Spurs play the second game of their Premier League season on Saturday, when they play host to Fulham at Wembley.

Tottenham can be backed at 1/4 to defeat the Cottagers and are 11/1 to triumph by a 3-1 scoreline, with the hosts 5/6 to keep a clean sheet.

England captain Harry Kane netted all three goals two seasons ago when Spurs claimed a 3-0 victory at Craven Cottage in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

View all Soccer betting

Fernandez deal boosts Benitez

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez is happy to have added a new defensive option to his squad, with Federico Fernandez having moved to Tyneside from Swansea City.

The 29-year-old Argentina international has agreed a two-year contract with the Magpies, having opted to leave the Swans following their relegation from the Premier League.

Fernandez is the second defensive signing made by Newcastle this summer, with Fabian Schar having joined from Deportivo La Coruna, while Benitez has also been able to draft in Martin Dubravka, Ki Sung-yueng, Yoshinori Muto, Salomon Rondon and Kenedy, with the last two of those arriving on loan deals.

Benitez told his club's official website: "I know Federico well from our time together at Napoli and it was an easy decision to bring him here.

"He is experienced, a very good professional and he will add competition in defence."

Newcastle begin their new Premier League campaign with a home clash with Tottenham Hotspur at lunchtime on Saturday.

Last season this fixture ended 2-0 to Spurs, with Dele Alli and Ben Davies their goalscorers, while the home side had Jonjo Shelvey sent off earlier on in the second half.

The Magpies can be backed at 11/4 to defeat the Londoners on Saturday, while a 1-1 draw is priced at 6/1, while the Tynesiders are 5/1 to be relegated come the end of the season.

View all Soccer betting

Rondon relishing Magpies role

Rafael Benitez is pleased that he has finally been able to bring West Brom striker Salomon Rondon to Newcastle United on a season-long loan.

The Venezuela international has been one of Benitez's main targets this summer after the Magpies boss opted to let Aleksandar Mitrovic move to Fulham.

As part of the Rondon deal Dwight Gayle has joined the Baggies on loan for their Championship campaign.

Gayle scored 23 times for Newcastle in their 2016/17 Championship season but only found the net six times in the Premier League last term.

Rondon has scored 19 times in 66 appearances for his country and had spells with Las Palmas, Malaga, Rubin Kazan and Zenit St Petersburg before joining Albion three years ago.

The 28-year-old, who scored 24 Premier League goals in 108 appearances for West Brom, said after moving to St James' Park: "It's an honour to be here and I'm excited to get started with my team-mates.

"The clubs were talking for a long time and now I'm focused on the season to help my team-mates to get the points to do well."

Meanwhile, Benitez said: "I am delighted to sign Salomon. When we were looking for options up front, we knew how important experience would be. Salomon has been in the Premier League for a while and he knows how demanding it is."

Rondon is 13/8 to be Newcastle's top goalscorer this season while the Magpies are 12/5 to beat Tottenham in their first Premier League match of the campaign on Saturday.

Benitez bemoans survival mode

Rafael Benitez has admitted to being frustrated that Newcastle are just content with targeting Premier League survival.

The Magpies chief has had some backing in the transfer market from owner Mike Ashley with five new signings coming through the door.

Japan striker Yoshinori Muto was the most recent arrival in a £10million deal from German club Mainz, while Switzerland defender Fabian Schar and South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-yueng have also arrived, Chelsea midfielder Kenedy has returned on a season-long loan deal and goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has also signed a permanent contract.

However, with the transfer deadline approaching on Thursday, Benitez feels his squad needs further reinforcements if they are going to show any more ambtion than just survival.

Speaking after the 1-0 friendly defeat against German side Augsburg, Benitez said: "I am not happy we are looking to just survive every year.

"When I decided to stay here it was because it was a project. Everyone knows that we can't compete against Man City or Man United, but we can do things in the right way.

"Maybe we can be more competitive or closer to European positions, maybe we could challenge for a trophy. That was the idea. Then we finished 10th and credit to our players, but I still thought we could do something more to be closer.

"It's not the case. We'll see where we are and we will fight until the last minute, trying to improve the squad first then after that the team."

Newcastle are 1/8 to stay up this coming season, while they are 2/1 for a top-half finish and are priced at 20/1 to finish in the top six.

View all Soccer betting

Lack of signings worries Rafa

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez is concerned that he has been unable to sign the players he wanted to bring to St James' Park this summer.

However, the Spaniard insists he remains hopeful that West Brom striker Salomon Rondon will sign for the Magpies even though Dwight Gayle looks set to stay at the club.

Benitez was downbeat after watching his side slump to an embarrassing 4-0 pre-season defeat to Braga on Wednesday and admitted he was "really worried" after seeing things go badly both "on and off the pitch" in recent weeks.

When asked if he still wanted to sign Rondon, the Newcastle boss replied: "Yes. It could be fine if we have an agreement but we have to respect West Brom and what they decide.

"We have been talking for a while about players. I think it's the time to act, more than talk. We have been working for months – sometimes we can sign players, sometimes we cannot. At the moment, I don't know.

"Am I optimistic, thinking that in a few days we can do what we didn't do in two months? I don't think so. But, still, I think it's obvious we need people, we need bodies."

Ricardo Horta, Joao Novais, Fransergio and Dyego Sousa scored for Braga, and Benitez said after the match in Portugal: "We were poor and we made too many mistakes. We have to wake up – that's it.

"You see the teams that have been promoted, the money they are spending. Put it all together and you understand why the fans need to be concerned. We are concerned."

Newcastle, 5/1 to be relegated this season and 7/4 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table, can be backed at 12/5 to beat Tottenham in their opening game of the campaign on 11th August.

Benitez confirms Lejeune blow

Newcastle could be without Florian Lejeune for this season after boss Rafael Benitez confirmed that he has suffered a serious knee injury.

The 27-year-old French defender, who featured in the Magpies' first pre-season friendly against St Patrick's Athletic, has not been seen since having missed Tuesday's draw at Hull City and he then failed to fly to Portugal for Saturday's game against FC Porto.

And, Benitez confirmed after the goalless draw that Lejeune, who made 24 appearances last season following his move from Eibar 12 months ago, is facing surgery on a knee injury, which is believed to be cruciate ligament damage.

He said: "He will need an operation, we need to decide exactly when.

"We could lose him for a while. Bad news for us."

Meanwhile, Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic returned to the UK from Portugal on Saturday evening to seal his move to Fulham after the two clubs agreed on a £22million fee for the Serbia international. which could rise to £27m with potential add-ons.

Newcastle, who are 7/4 to secure a top half finish in the Premier League season, kick-off their campaign against Tottenham at St James' Park on 11th August and are 13/5 to pick up a win. Spurs are 1/1 to secure the three points and the draw is 5/2.

View all Soccer betting

Benitez closes in on Muto

Newcastle United are on the verge of signing Mainz's Japan international forward Yoshinori Muto for a reported £9.5million.

The player has undergone a medical and agreed personal terms but the transfer is subject to the striker being issued with a work permit.

Muto played in Japan's defeat to Poland at World Cup 2018 and has represented his country 25 times.

The 26-year-old former FC Tokyo striker scored 20 goals in his three seasons with Mainz.

Since the end of last season Magpies boss Rafael Benitez has made three signings.

Martin Dubravka, who enjoyed a successful loan spell at St James' Park in the second half of last season, has penned a permanent deal with Benitez's side while Ki Sung-yueng has moved to Tyneside from Swansea City and Fabian Schar has arrived from Deportivo La Coruna.

Meanwhile, Mikel Merino, Chancel Mbemba, Matz Sels and Massadio Haidara have all left the club since the end of last term.

In addition Kenedy has agreed an extended loan period with Newcastle while Jack Colback has joined Nottingham Forest on a temporary arrangement.

Newcastle can be backed at 13/5 to win their first game of the season against Tottenham while they are available at 7/4 to finish in the top half of the Premier League in 2018/19.