Nuno: We deserved draw

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo thought justice was done when his side snatched a last-gasp equaliser to draw 1-1 with Newcastle United.

Rafa Benitez's side looked set to clinch three much-needed points at Molineux on Monday until Willy Boly headed home Wolves' equaliser in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Isaac Hayden had given the Magpies lead but Boly's late equaliser means they are only one point above the relegation zone with 12 matches of the campaign remaining. Newcastle are 7/1 to be relegated this season.

After watching his team extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to six games, Nuno said: "The last minute showed the character of the team and belief of our fans here in Molineux, so I'm pleased for the late moment of joy. Once again, it's a last-minute goal that I think puts some justice in the game, honestly.

"We keep on going. The boys know until the final whistle is there everybody fights. We went until the end, a big effort from the boys and a point here in Molineux I think was good.

"In the last minute we started putting the ball in the box and got a moment we deserved. The last minute gave us the joy in the end, I think it was well-deserved, I think we didn't deserve to lose this game."

Wolves are 17/20 to beat Bristol City in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday and 8/1 to win the competition outright this season.

Selection problems please Rafa

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benítez is relieved that four members of his first-team squad have recovered from their injuries.

Paul Dummett, Ki Sung-yueng, Mohamed Diame and Karl Darlow are all available to face Wolves on Monday.

In addition, Yoshinori Muto has returned from Asian Cup duty with Japan and new signing Miguel Almiron could make his Magpies debut at Molineux.

However, Benitez is refusing to rush Jonjo Shelvey and Rob Elliot back to action too soon.

"It's much better. Apart from Jonjo and Elliot, the rest of the team are fine," Benitez said. "Everyone else is fit and available. It is good news – competition, as I always say, is positive for the team.

"Shelvey has been training outside but we don't want to take any risks. We still have to wait for one or two weeks but the problem is that he wants to push and be on the pitch, training well with the team, and we have to stop him sometimes.

"It is important to have everyone if it is possible but especially when at this time you are playing for everything."

Newcastle are 19/4 to beat Nuno Espirito Santo's side, who are currently seventh in the Premier League table.

Benitez has been impressed with how well Wolves have adapted to life in the top-flight following last season's promotion, adding: "They have a good manager and some very good players – they have players who have been champions of Europe and internationals at every level.

"They may be newly-promoted but they have spent more than £100million. They are a good team who are doing really well."

Newcastle are 7/2 to keep a clean sheet against Wolves.

Premier League: January 2019 Deadline Day Fails to Inspire

What do Andrey Arshavin, Papiss Cisse, Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres, Christophe Dugarry and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang have in common?

They were all big money deals in the January transfer window and made varying degrees of impact, although were largely successful.

That can’t be said for many a New Year purchase, however, because while January can be a time when some clubs catch a bargain and thrive, others simply panic buy.

The window has now been part and parcel of the football calendar since it was introduced in the Premier League in 2003 – Fifa’s insistence on limiting permanent moves during the season to a one-month period was grudgingly accepted by English football.

It’s pretty obvious that any transfer window can be just madness.

But for those us fans who love the thrill of deadline day, the 2019 version was a bit of an anti-climax.

Last year Manchester United appeared to get the beat deal of the month when they secured the signature of Alexis Sanchez in exchange from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Sanchez has only delivered in bursts for his new club, although gave them a reminder of his talents last week.

There was certainly no deal to match that scale this time around, even though Newcastle broke their club transfer record – for the first time in 14 years – to secure the talents of Paraguay playmaker Miguel Almiron from MLS side Atlanta United.

They also signed defender Antonio Barreca on loan from Monaco.

That was really as exciting as it got with confirmation that Jonny Castro had made his loan move from Atletico Madrid to Wolves on a permanent basis the next highest fee.

So is there any new recruit who can create some 2019 Premier League highlights?

Veteran player Peter Crouch returns to Premier League after joining Burnley

Veteran Peter Crouch is back in the Premier League after he signed a contract with Burnley until the end of the season

Veteran Peter Crouch’s move to Burnley definitely caught some imagination and, with 108 Premier League goals, he is just one behind Romelu Lukaku and the now retired Ryan Giggs so could well have surpassed the now retired Welshman by the end of the season for what will surely be his swansong in the top flight of English football.

Arsenal’s loan capture of the lesser-known Suarez from Barcelona, Denis, hardly set pulses racing.

The midfielder has struggled for minutes this season, starting just twice in eight appearances, but will be hoping that will change as he reunites with Unai Emery, his former Sevilla boss, at the Emirates Stadium.

Leicester’s loan signing of Monaco midfielder Youri Tielemans could prove the most astute move of deadline day, while Michy Batshuayi’s loan move to Crystal Palace raised a few eyebrows, but that really was it.

Indeed, arguably the biggest story was the pending departure of Marouane Fellaini from Old Trafford to Chinese Super League club Shandong Luneng.

And once the clock struck 23.00 hours English time, that was that and the window was closed.

A total of £180 million was spent in January which, when you consider £150 million was sent on deadline day alone last season, shows how low-key it was – the first time there has been a fall in English football’s top flight since 2012.

That was 2019 Premier League news deadline day and, in truth, it was all a bit of a damp squib.

 

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No guarantees from Benitez

Rafa Benitez has cast doubt on his future as Newcastle United manager by refusing to say whether he will still be at the club next season.

The Spaniard's contract at St James' Park expires at the end of this season and he is believed to be unhappy with a lack of transfer activity at the club during the January transfer window.

Newcastle were knocked out of the FA Cup by Watford on Saturday are and 17th in the Premier League table after beating Cardiff City in their last game earlier this month.

They host Manchester City on Tuesday and are available at 20/1 to grind out a 0-0 draw against last season's Premier League champions.

"No, I cannot guarantee anything but I have not considered leaving [before my contract ends]," former Liverpool, Chelsea, Valencia and Real Madrid boss Benitez said.

"I am a professional and I want to do things well. I decided to stay in the Championship, to do my job and finish my job in the way that I like to do things.

"I have some principles and I will try to do things properly."

Newcastle can be backed at 4/1 to be relegated this season while Salomon Rondon is 9/2 to score at any time against Pep Guardiola's team, who will move to within one point of Premier League leaders Liverpool if they triumph on Tyneside.

Benitez admits survival struggle

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez admits that securing Premier League survival this season will be a struggle whether or not players are added to the squad this month.

United are just a place above the relegation zone, two points ahead of third bottom Cardiff who they beat last weekend.

The league takes a backseat for the FA Cup this weekend and Newcastle are in fourth round action at home to Watford on Saturday.

In a press conference ahead of that game Benitez was reluctant to talk about transfer targets with the January window shutting in less than a week.

There is strong speculation that Jordan Lukaku will join the club on loan from Lazio but Benitez refused to confirm that, merely saying the club faces a fight to survive in the Premier League regardless of whether new players arrive in the coming days.

Benitez said: "This group of players is trying hard and we will try to get results. I think we can stay up and it could also go to the last day against Fulham. If we do not bring anyone in, then no one can leave.

"When you are at this stage of the transfer window this month it has to be difficult.

"January is always a difficult window because normally the top sides, they are in the Champions League or Europa League and it's not easy to find any players."

The Newcastle boss also told the media that Federico Fernandez and Kenedy have both trained and could be involved against the Hornets.

Newcastle haven't reached the fifth round of the FA Cup since 2005-06 when they reached the quarter-finals before losing to Chelsea.

They are 2/1 to win on Saturday with Watford 6/4 while the draw and a replay at Vicarage Road is 12/5.

Their survival fight in the Premier League continues in midweek when Manchester City are the visitors to St James' Park.

Newcastle are 4/1 to be relegated while they are 25/1 to recover and finish in the top half of the table.

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Mowbray seeks cup shock

Tony Mowbray hopes his Blackburn side can keep their good run going by knocking Newcastle United out of the FA Cup on Tuesday.

Rovers, 3/4 to win the replay and qualify for the fourth round, have beaten West Brom and Millwall in their last two Championship games with Jack Rodwell playing a key role against the Lions.

The 27-year-old, who signed a one-year deal at Ewood Park after leaving Sunderland, helped Rovers win their first away game since October by beating Millwall.

Rodwell was making his first appearance since recovering from a groin strain, with Mowbray saying of the former Everton and Manchester City star: "Playing centre-half, he's played as a sitting midfielder, but I think behind the ball is where he's best.

"He's experienced, he's mobile enough, and can use both feet so it's not an issue for him playing on the left or the right.

"The Newcastle game is one that we'd like to win. We have a good record at home and against a Premier League side it will be difficult, but we have to keep our confidence and a level of expectation going.

"We have a home game on Saturday against Ipswich, who won on Saturday which will have given them a lift, but if we're at our best then we can give anyone a game."

Blackburn can be backed at 7/4 to keep a clean sheet against Rafa Benitez's Newcastle side, who are 5/2 to be relegated from the Premier League this season.

Premier League: Willian’s Genius Breaks Geordies’ Hearts

Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle United

A beautiful second-half goal from Willian gave Chelsea a narrow win over Newcastle in front of a packed crowd at Stamford Bridge.

Pedro had given the Blues a first-half lead, but a superb header from Ciaran Clark drew the Magpies level before Willian won it for the hosts. Maurizio Sarri’s Blues had a chance to extend the lead over fifth place in the Premier League to six points after Arsenal’s defeat away to West Ham. The visitors gave them a real game, but Chelsea’s quality eventually shone through.

According to Premier League 2019 odds, Newcastle should avoid relegation, but they are back in the bottom three after Cardiff City won a point to move ahead of them.

Highlights of the game

Chelsea had plenty of the action in the opening stages and went ahead on just nine minutes. David Luiz carved the Newcastle defence open with a precision ball for Pedro, and the Spaniard lifted a delicate lob over the keeper and into the net. We said Chelsea needed to be more ruthless in front of goal, and Pedro was exactly that.

Pedro and Willian help Chelsea see off a stubborn Newcastle side 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League

Chelsea’s Pedro celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal

Newcastle needed a change in game plan and it was no help for Rafa Benitez that winger Kenedy was unavailable to play against his parent club. Chelsea continued to dominate the game with Luiz heading narrowly wide and Pedro forcing a good save from Martin Dubravka with a 25-yard effort.

But the visitors did begin to work their way into the game. Ayoze Perez had an excellent chance to level when Salomon Rondon put him clean through, but he sliced his shot wide of  Kepa’s post. Then Newcastle stunned the home crowd as they drew level when Ciaran Clark met Matt Ritchie’s corner and bulleted a header past Kepa and into the net. 1-1.

For all Chelsea’s first-half possession, Newcastle had fashioned as many chances as the home side. And the Blues came out in the second half determined to rectify that. N’Golo Kante took advantage of a lucky deflection to collect the ball and put Pedro clean through on goal, but this time Dubravka got down to make a brilliant save.

But there was not a lot the visiting keeper could do when Willian restored Chelsea’s lead with a touch of genius. Eden Hazard, who had been quiet up to now, ran at the Newcastle defence before laying the ball off to the Brazilian, who then curled a beauty beyond Dubravka and into the corner of the net to send the home fans wild.

Willian had a glorious chance to make it three when Luiz put him through with a superb ball, but he failed to do what Pedro had succeeded in when the Newcastle keeper thwarted his lobbed attempt.

Newcastle had a great chance to get back in the game on 85 minutes: Manquillo picked out Rondon with a floated cross, but the striker’s header flew wide.

Key statistics

Ciaran Clark heads home to level the scoreline between Chelsea and Newcastle in the Premier League

Newcastle United’s Ciaran Clark celebrates with his teammate Sean Longstaff after scoring his side first goal

The us odds pointed to a comfortable home win and it was well-deserved in the end, but a one-goal lead is never relaxing.

This was the first time Chelsea had scored at home in three games which was a welcome return for the fans, and this win means Chelsea has lost only one of 24 home Premier League games against Newcastle.

Eden Hazard had a quiet game but he has now made ten assists to add to his ten goals in the Premier League.

Newcastle have only lost four games away from home and it’s their home form which has dumped them into relegation trouble, losing at St James Park to Manchester United last week. But the Premier League 2019 results already in today had left the Geordies in the relegation zone.

What’s next?

There is a huge game for Maurizio Sarri’s team next week as he takes them to the Emirates to face Champions League rivals Arsenal. A result there will cement their top-four place for a few weeks to come.

Meanwhile, Newcastle have a busy week ahead; first is a tricky FA Cup replay away to Championship side Blackburn Rovers. And then it’s back to St James’ Park where they have a crunch match at home to relegation rivals Cardiff City. They need to get their home form going soon or it will be a nervy run in for the Geordies, and anything less than three points against Neil Warnock’s strugglers will sound alarm bells.

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Benitez tired of transfer talk

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez says he wants to focus on football rather then transfers or any potential takeovers of the club.

The Magpies, 11/4 to be relegated this season, have yet to add any new players to their squad this month while news about a potential takeover by Peter Kenyon has gone quiet.

Benitez says he is tired of wasting energy talking about non-football matters and is instead only interested in Saturday's match against Chelsea.

Newcastle are 9/1 to keep a clean sheet against the Blues and 12/1 to draw the Stamford Bridge clash 0-0.

Former Real Madrid, Chelsea and Liverpool boss Benitez said: "I will not talk about the transfer window, I will not talk about names and I will not talk about the takeover. We are wasting energy on these things.

"We need to focus on the game. I could say it's a difficult window like other managers, but I prefer not to.

"I don't want to talk about players, I don't want to talk about takeovers, I don't want to talk about me. I just want to talk about these players and our games."

Newcastle are 15th heading into this weekend's fixtures after winning just four of their first 21 Premier League matches this season.

Premier League: Chelsea Can Give Magpies the Blues

Chelsea vs Newcastle United

Two of the biggest Premier League clubs come head to head in London on Sunday, and it’s a massive game for both.

Chelsea have stuttered since conceding its 12-match unbeaten run, and this is a must-win game for Maurizio Sarri’s Blues to keep their slim chances of a title tilt alive and, more realistically, to strengthen their grip on that priceless fourth place.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United are in the thick of a relegation scrap, without a win in five games and looking a little weary. The last thing they need is a hiding in London, and a point would be like gold dust.

Talking Points

Chelsea need to be ruthless in front of goal

Sarri has his team well organised and, for much of the season, playing with more flair than last term. But all too much of their early season success was down to the exhilarating form of Eden Hazard.

The Belgian maestro has added goals to his all-round play, and that makes him one of the real world-class talents in the Premier League.

The Blues dominated the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Spurs and were unlucky to be a goal down at the half-way stage.

N’Golo Kante continued to play in a position further forward and came close to scoring at Wembley.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old winger Callum Hudson-Odoi is dominating the Premier League 2019 news at the moment as FC Bayern Munich chase the youngster. The Bundesliga giants have tabled a £35 million bid and have just announced current wide man Franck Ribery is sidelined. Hudson-Odoi’s lively performance in the semi-final against Spurs has left Chelsea fans hoping and praying he stays put.

But when he sees how Jadon Sancho has blossomed at Borussia Dortmund, he might just have his head turned.

Hazard remains Chelsea’s top scorer with ten goals while striker Alvaro Morata continues to struggle, managing only half that figure—not a great return on the weighty fee Chelsea paid to bring the Spaniard to the Bridge.

Sarri is likely to dip in the market in January to strengthen his front line.

Geordies face a tough fight

Another relegation battle is Newcastle’s fate this season, and current form doesn’t fill the fanatical Magpies fans with much confidence.

In Rafa Benitez, they have a world-class manager. Nonetheless, he has limited resources to play with.

Premier League: Rafa Benitez reshuffles his squad for their upcoming match against Chelsea

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez giving instruction to his players from the touchline

Newcastle pushed Manchester United last week but still ended up on the wrong end of a 2-0 result. And as all us Premier League fans know, this league can be so unforgiving. A damaging losing run is hard to shake off as we move into the second half of the season, and smaller squads suffer injuries and suspensions.

Striker Ayoze Perez has said there is something wrong at Newcastle, as the Magpies struggle in the relegation mire. They certainly looked lacklustre in a 1-1 home FA Cup draw to Championship side Blackburn Rovers last weekend.

There is uncertainty off the pitch too, with Benitez refusing to sign an extension to his contract beyond the end of this season. The coach is Newcastle’s biggest asset and without him, this team would already be in the bottom three.

The Premier League 2019 odds suggest the Magpies should escape, though it will be mighty close.

It’s hard to see how Newcastle are going to beat sides, with Perez uncertain and Salomon Rondon the only player with more than two goals for the team. I can’t see them troubling Chelsea’s back line.

History

There have been some great tussles between these two teams in the Premier League era, with Chelsea winning 28 to Newcastle’s 14 and 12 matches drawn.

The Magpies thumped Chelsea 3-0 on the final day of last season, but Sarris’ men are a different prospect than the flaky bunch which followed up a league title with last season’s flop.

The Blues haven’t lost at home to Newcastle in the last six meetings, and while the Geordies have done as well away as at home—taking 11 points on the road—they are winless in five.

Betting Tip

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Chelsea vs Newcastle United Chelsea vs Newcastle United Total Goal 2-3 @ 2.08
January 13, 01:30 (GMT+8)

This match looks like a regulation home win, but the only caveat I’d add is that Benitez is a tactical and strategic expert who is capable of setting up a team to frustrate and snuff out their opponents’ threat.

He’ll be aiming for a 0-0 or a 1-1 result but, despite Chelsea’s misfiring in front of goal, I do think the Blues—particularly Hazard—will be too good for their visitors.

A 2-0 scoreline at looks a likely outcome, but a bet on 2-3 goals allows for Rafa making his point.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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Benitez keen to enjoy long run

Rafa Benitez insists he is keen to win the FA Cup with Newcastle United this season even though his team are only two points above the relegation zone.

The Magpies have not won the competition since 1955 and in recent years have often fielded weakened sides in the opening rounds to their fans' consternation.

Newcastle, 66/1 to win the FA Cup this season, face Blackburn Rovers in the third round this weekend and are 4/6 to beat Tony Mowbray's team.

Benitez said: "The main thing for us is to approach the next game trying to win – in this case, it's the FA Cup. I won the FA Cup [with Liverpool in 2006] so for me, it's a massive trophy, but I will not take any risks."

Benitez will be without injured trio Mohamed Diame, Federico Fernandez and Karl Darlow and has indicated that he will not be able to strengthen his squad during the January transfer window.

He added: "We will try to go through, but using the squad we have.

"It's an opportunity for us to do well. We will play at home; we have to change things at home so it's an opportunity to do that. Can we do it? I hope so.

"I have to concentrate on getting the best from these players. We are in a position we don't deserve to be in terms of the potential of this club."