Premier League: Why These Managers Often Know Best!

The general media and majority of pundits in England (albeit some with an axe to grind) keep telling us there is a crisis at the biggest club in the land.

There isn’t, but the chances are there will be if Manchester United fail to beat winless Newcastle in the Premier League this weekend.

Talking Points

Newcastle United aim to make it in Premier League 2018 News

Rafa Benitez eyes Newcastle United’s first win this season

The truth of the matter is it’s very rare for United to go more than a few games without a win so it’s not uncommon for one media outlet or another to use the word ‘crisis’ or print a photo of the famous club crest with a split down the middle when it happens.

Indeed, I’ve lost count of the times it was done to United during a poor spell of any given campaign in which Sir Alex Ferguson would invariably guide them to yet another piece of silverware and laugh at the over-the-top reaction.

Despite clear strains between a few players and the current incumbent Jose Mourinho which will need to be addressed, United will hope this spell is all too similar.

Good results can change the mood inside a club very quickly. And despite the run of poor form, watch any United game closely and there still seems to be a desire and intensity to play for the manager.

For all his faults, Mourinho can rightly feel let down by some of his players so far. They owe him and themselves some improved showings, starting this weekend.

Now, let me tell you something that most Premier League 2018 news stories with their anti-Mourinho agenda have not told you so far.

Mourinho is one of the few members of staff at the club who has a proven track record of delivering excellence in his position.

He is one of few who seems to want to win so much that his mood and wellbeing depend on it.

Replacing a manager after a few bad results and internal squabbles is the last thing United need as they struggle to find consistent success after the Ferguson empire.

The club’s hierarchy is desperate for him to succeed and have, largely, backed him in the transfer market during his two-and-a-bit years at the club.

Not all the fans like what is deemed to be dysfunctional football at times, but the majority of supporters know there is no one better who is available.

Finally, Mourinho, deep down, knows that he polarises opinion quite like no other and, should he and United part company, he may struggle to get another big job after acrimonious spells at all his immediate previous employers.

As Mourinho’s old rival, Rafa Benitez, prepares to bring his Newcastle team to Old Trafford, there are striking parallels.

Here is another boss with a proven track record who is not just appreciated but also loved by the Geordie fans.

Results have also not gone their way with the Toon Army without a win, in the relegation zone, playing below par football and Benitez’s contract up next summer.

However, in contrast to Mourinho, he has not been backed by club owner Mike Ashley who is a regular target of fans’ ire, even if he has pledged this week to spend in the January transfer market.

Some have even said they would happily let Benitez walk away if it meant Ashley was forced out of the club.

Whether his transfer pledge can encourage the visitors to a famous result this weekend is unclear, but one thing for sure. There’s a clear, considerate warning for both sides: be careful what you wish for!


Last season saw United turn on the style at Old Trafford.

After going behind to a Dwight Gayle goal in November, they ran out 4-1 winners, courtesy of goals from Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku.

It was a very different scenario in the rematch at St James Park in February when a Matt Ritchie goal gave the Toon a memorable win which sparked their confidence to launch a successful survival bid and an eventual 10th-place finish.

Betting Tip

Manchester United vs Newcastle United Over 2.75 Goals @ 2.21
October 7, 00:30 (GMT+8)

Newcastle’s last league victory came on May 14, the final day of last season, so it’s understandable why few us fans will tip them to cause a shock.

Even accounting for their poor form, the Premier League 2018 betting odds point to a home victory with 1X2 on United offering odds of @ 1.47, the draw @ 4.10 and Newcastle @ 6.80.

Likewise, Asian Handicap betting will give you odds on United -1.50 @ 2.49 and Newcastle + 1.00 @ 2.14.

A repeat of last season’s 4-1 scoreline will pay out @ 24.00.

?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.




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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."

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.

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."

Shelvey faces short lay-off

Rafa Benitez has indicated that Jonjo Shelvey will miss Newcastle United's matches against Nottingham Forest and Manchester City because of a thigh injury.

The former Liverpool midfielder, as well as club captain Jamaal Lascelles, sat out Sunday's 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea.

Lascelles has an ankle problem, although it has also been reported that the 24-year-old had a disagreement with Benitez ahead of the game.

However, Benitez would only say: "All my life I like to talk with players. We decide with what we have to do. Everyone knows that.

"If players have different opinions, then we have to speak about it. That's it, and then we stick to the plan."

Kenedy was ineligible to play against his parent club, while Isaac Hayden was suspended, and Benitez lamented his lack of options, adding: "We had six players out of the team. Jonjo was tight. Maybe he will need a couple of weeks.

"Jamaal, hopefully, will be fine for the next game."

Newcastle take on Forest at the City Ground on Wednesday in a second round Carabao Cup tie before coming up against Manchester City on Saturday.

The Magpies, currently available at 10/3 to be relegated this season, can be backed at 6/4 to beat Nottingham Forest on Wednesday after 90 minutes and at 40/1 to win the Carabao Cup outright this term.

Premier League Newcastle vs Chelsea: Controversy at St. James

Newcastle 1-2 Chelsea

Chelsea’s 100 per cent start to the season continued with a 1-2 win over Newcastle thanks to a controversial penalty and an own goal.

Newcastle had their own bit of luck, equalising when they should have been pulled up for a foul, but Joselu’s header couldn’t save them after Eden Hazard had fired the Blues ahead.

Premier League Newcastle vs Chelsea is one of the classic English fixtures and one which the Magpies have thrived in recently, but for all their defensive bravery this just wasn’t their day when DeAndre Yedlin put through his own goal with minutes remaining.

Newcastle is a hotbed of football and the passionate Geordie fans believe that one day they will play at the very top of European football. But there was a great deal of uncertainty as the teams were announced. Rafa Benitez had made six changes and there was no place for Jamaal Lascelles, rumoured to have fallen out with the boss over the defensive formation.

Chelsea recently had a big win in a five-goal thriller against Arsenal and this one was every bit as dramatic.

Highlights of the Game

Eden Hazard was making his first start for Chelsea, great news for Blues’ fans after their best player stayed at the Bridge despite hot rumours of a move to Real Madrid in the close season. But there were worried faces in the away dugout when he went down under a challenge from Matt Ritchie.

The talisman recovered and became more influential as the half progressed, firing just wide on 26 minutes and again five minutes later.

There was also a start for loan signing Salomon Rondon who had joined Newcastle from relegated West Brom. The Venezuelan has been handed the number 9 shirt, made famous by Geordie legends Malcolm Macdonald and Alan Shearer. And either of those two would have put the Magpies ahead just after the half hour, but Rondon planted his free header a yard wide.

The most recent Premier League Newcastle vs Chelsea results have gone the way of the Magpies in four of the last five clashes and they were still right in the game at the break, defending well in the absence of Lascelles.

Keeper Martin Dubravka kept the scores level early in the second half, getting down well and holding on to a shot from Cesar Azpilicueta, and then Alvaro Morata had a chance from ten yards out but his control let him down.

Rafa Benitez had seen enough of his new striker Rondon, replacing him with Joselu, while Sarri brought Olivier Giroud on in place of Morata.

Chelsea continued to probe patiently but centre-back Antonio Rudiger tried to get on with it more quickly, smashing a shot against the crossbar from 25 yards. Then on 75 minutes came the first big moment of controversy. Marcos Alonso got goal side of Fabian Schar and the debutant played the ball but referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot.

Hazard coolly stepped up and fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner and beyond the reach of Dubravka.

Rafa was fuming.

But he felt justice was done on 83 minutes when DeAndre Yedlin caught Giroud in the face with his elbow, and as the Chelsea players waited for the whistle Yedlin crossed for Joselu, who showed great movement to get in front of David Luiz to head home. More controversy and 1-1.

Premier League Newcastle vs Chelsea:  Joselu scored a fine header for the Magpies

Joselu celebrates with his teammates after scoring an equaliser for Newcastle United against Chelsea

But Yedlin’s delight soon turned to despair when he got in the way of a cross-shot from Alonso and somehow turned the ball into his own net.

Key Statistics

The Premier League Newcastle vs Chelsea odds pointed to a comfortable away win, but it was anything but.

The statistics tell a tale of total dominance, with 81 per cent possession and 15 shots to six but they needed two slices of luck to win.

It’s seven seasons since Chelsea has won at St James Park and Newcastle almost got away with it.

This was Hazard’s 70th goal for Chelsea making him their third top scorer in Premier League history.

What’s next?

Maurizio Sarri’s team can really press on now. They play Bournemouth and Cardiff City, either side of the international break. us Premier League 2018 fans will keep a close eye on the Blues as they aim to challenge Manchester City and Liverpool at the top.

It doesn’t get any easier for Newcastle with a trip to the Etihad where champions Manchester City are unlikely to give any quarter, having dropped points at Wolves. They’ll probably need the international break to recover and then it’s the small matter of Arsenal, who got their campaign off and running with a win over West Ham.



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Benitez wary of dangerous Blues

Rafa Benítez is looking forward to pitting his wits against Maurizio Sarri when Newcastle United entertain Chelsea on Sunday.

The two managers have both been in charge of Napoli while Benitez had a dispiriting spell at Chelsea earlier in his career.

Newcastle have only taken one point from their first two Premier League matches of the season after losing 2-1 to Tottenham and drawing 0-0 at Cardiff City, while Chelsea have been impressive, beating Huddersfield Town and Arsenal.

The Magpies are 17/4 to win Sunday's encounter while Chelsea are 7/10 to triumph on Tyneside.

"You have to find the balance, and the balance means you have to try to win but try to win using the brain, not just the heart," said Benítez.

"The main thing is the attitude, the work-rate, the approach, the mentality.

"I know Sarri well from his experience in Italy. He's a good coach, with some very good players. They are playing well. They will be very dangerous, we know that."

DeAndre Yedlin, who missed the goalless draw at Cardiff, is set to feature against the Blues, with Benitez adding: "Yedlin's been training, so he's fine. Javier) Manquillo is doing better than we were expecting, but we have to assess him."

Premier League: Sleeping Giants Who Went in Different Directions

Newcastle United vs Chelsea

These clubs used to have a lot in common.

Giants of the game in the north-west and capital of England but bereft of modern-day silverware.

The odd memorable day aside, their followers were generally left pining for more. Chelsea tasted some success in the late ’90s and early 2000s while Newcastle secured back-to-back runners-up spots in the Premier League, but it was the memories of the 1969 Fairs Cup (Newcastle), the 1970 FA Cup (Chelsea) and the 1971 European Cup Winners Cup (Chelsea) that kept them sustained for so long.

Then Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich waltzed into English football and Chelsea became a dominant force.

Talking Points

Now, the Premier League clubs are as far apart as they have been for some time.

Knowledgeable us followers will tell you Newcastle fans are completely fed up with the Mike Ashley model.

A Newcastle supporting friend of mine told me this week that in the decade before Ashley arrived, Newcastle were never relegated and finished second, fourth, third, fifth and seventh. They also reached the FA Cup Final and semi-final twice, had a world-record signing in the team and even played in the Champions League, the UEFA Cup and the Cup Winners Cup.

Since taking the club over in the summer of 2007, the Toon have been relegated twice. Furthermore, aside from a fine fifth place in 2012, they have not been above 10th position in the top flight since the year before Ashley’s arrival.

Fittingly, for a club in the famous stripes, it’s all in black and white.

The money the club made last season was not insignificant.

Club funds, television cash, prize money, sponsors, outgoing transfers—yet still next to nothing is spent on players.

No wonder so many supporters boycott Ashley’s Sports Direct empire and, in a perverse way, some even hope their favourite Rafa Benitez may resign as boss and cause life to become so difficult for Ashley that he sells the club.

Life has become so unbearable for some of the Toon Army that a group of fans have recently set up a website directing them to hit the controversial owner where it really hurts—in the pockets.

He remains in post though and the Geordies continue to battle, with Benitez’s talents keeping them afloat.

The Spaniard clearly sees the potential of the club which would surely be more valuable with a little investment.

Perhaps Ashley is wise. After all, a substantial spree in January 2016 significantly strengthened the team yet they were relegated four months later.

That debate is for others but Newcastle certainly need something, even if they did push Spurs close on opening day before a draw at newly promoted Cardiff last weekend.

Benitez is arguably the only link between the two clubs right now because their respective Premier League 2018 odds are poles apart.

He guided Chelsea to a Europa League triumph during a caretaker spell in 2013, an interim period which earned him nothing but grudging respect.

There was too much animosity from the Chelsea-Liverpool rivalry during his time at Anfield for that.

Chelsea have started their Premier League season with two convincing wins under Maurizio Sarri

Marcos Alonso celebrates his winning goal during Chelsea’s Premier League match against Arsenal

Unlike Newcastle, Chelsea have made a fine start to the season.

Winning two out of two and following up a comprehensive victory at Huddersfield by edging Arsenal in a five-goal thriller last weekend.

But history tells us they have not always fared so well in the north-east cauldron of St. James’ Park.


Last season, Chelsea travelled to St. James on the final day of the league season with hopes still alive to seal a Champions League spot.

They were well beaten 3-0 by a rampant home side, a result and performance which seemed to nail a coffin in Antonio Conte’s time in charge at Stamford Bridge even though he guided them to the FA Cup a week later.

On that occasion, Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez spoiled what turned out to be Thibaut Courtois’ final Premier League game for the west Londoners.

Chelsea had seen off Newcastle at home earlier in the campaign in both the league and FA Cup, but it’s on Tyneside where they have struggled.

Think back to December 2014 when Papiss Cisse’s double defeated the side that would go on to win the title under Jose Mourinho.

Think back to a year earlier when the ‘French connection’ of Yoan Gouffran and Loic Remy—a player Mourinho later signed—consigned Chelsea to defeat.

Think back to February 2013 when Benitez had just been appointed at Chelsea and saw a debut double from Moussa Sissoko overturn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 Geordie victory.

Happy times indeed for Newcastle supporters.

Chelsea haven’t won in Newcastle’s home turf since December 2011. So will there be some Premier League 2018 highlights from this fixture for the Magpies to cheer and add to their memory bank?

Newcastle will certainly fancy it this time too!

Betting Tip

Newcastle United vs Chelsea 1X2 Draw @ 3.85
August 26, 23:00 (GMT+8)

Newcastle often seem to raise their game against the aristocrats from Chelsea, and I expect no less from them this time. With that said, I predict them to give the Blues a tough time and even come out with a point.

Another interesting bet worth considering is Newcastle Asian Handicap +0.75 @ 2.07. And how about plenty of goals—total goal 4-6 to be precise—that pay out at 3.50?

?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.



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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.