Perez urges Rafa to stay

Ayoze Perez is confident that Rafa Benitez will sign a new contract with Newcastle United and will still be in charge of the club next season.

Talks between the former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Liverpool boss and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley are reportedly underway.

Benitez's contract at St James' Park expires at the end of June but Perez, who ended the season as the club's top scorer with 13 goals, cannot comprehend the 59-year-old not being in charge when pre-season training begins on 4th July.

Perez, who has been linked with a summer move to Inter Milan, said: "We all want him to stay as it's something good for the club. We became a better club from the day he arrived.

"We have to make sure we keep him because the team and the club can keep growing. That's what we have done throughout the last few seasons."

Meanwhile, Perez was pleased with his goal tally this season, adding: "I always look to be in and around the box. At the end of the day, I am a striker."

Newcastle are considering signing Salomon Randon on a permanent deal after the Venezuelan enjoyed a fine season on loan in the north-east.

The former Malaga star is available for £16.5million after West Brom failed to win promotion from the Championship.

Newcastle are 7/2 to finish in the top half of the Premier League next season.

Benitez pleased for Mitrovic

Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez insists he remains a fan of Aleksandar Mitrovic even though he sold the Serbia international to Fulham last summer.

The Cottagers entertain Benitez's team on Sunday and Mitrovic, who is being linked with a move away from Fulham this summer, is 6/4 to score at any time against his former team.

Benitez sold Mitrovic to Fulham for £27million and replaced him with Salomon Rondon, who has enjoyed a fine campaign since moving to St James' Park on loan from West Brom.

Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Chelsea boss Benitez said: "I've said so many times that my relationship with Mitro is much better than maybe people think. I am a professional and I had to analyse whether, in my opinion, we needed him.

"But I'm really pleased he's done well there and is scoring goals – although hopefully not this weekend. He's a good player and he suits the style they play there.

"He loves football, he's very competitive, I think he's a good player. He will score goals for sure."

Mitrovic has netted 11 goals this season even though Fulham have been relegated from the Premier League. However, he has only found the net once – against Bournemouth – in his last 12 league appearances for the Cottagers.

The 24-year-old scored 12 times in the second half of last season for Fulham as they were promoted from the Championship via the play-offs.

Fulham are 17/10 to beat Newcastle on Sunday.

Liverpool Late Show Pushes Premier League Title Race to Last Day

Newcastle United 2-3 Liverpool

The Premier League title race is going to go down to the very last day of the season. Liverpool made sure of that as they snatched a dramatic win at Newcastle.

Rafa Benitez’s side was well-positioned to wreck his former side’s title hopes — and they very nearly did. But Divock Origi, who came on for the injured Mohamed Salah, was the hero as his late strike gave the Reds the 3-2 victory.

The Premier League 2019 odds still favour Manchester City to win the title as they simply need to win their remaining two matches of the season. But thanks to the Reds’ remarkable resilience, us Premier League fans will get to enjoy a dramatic final day of the season next week.

Highlights of the game

Liverpool knew only a win would do at Newcastle, and they predictably began on the front foot. Mohamed Salah was on the end of a couple of half-chances within the first dozen minutes of the match.

But on the ensuing corner from one of Salah’s blocked attempts, Liverpool got the breakthrough. PFA Player of The Year Virgil van Dijk found himself in acres of space inside the penalty area and made no mistake as he headed his free header past Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka.

However, Liverpool’s lead was short-lived as the hosts struck back in the 20th minute through Christian Atsu. Matt Ritchie met Javier Manquillo’s cross and squared it to the path of Salomon Rondon. The Venezuelan’s strike was cleared off the line by Trent Alexander-Arnold — seemingly using his arm — but Atsu was on hand to slot home the rebound.

The goal certainly helped gee the Geordies up as they went in search of the lead. Ayoze Perez, who passed fit after a recent injury scare, came close to putting the hosts in front, but his strike unluckily thumped off the bar. Then, Ki Sung-yueng’s follow-up effort was straight at Alisson.

But while Newcastle were unable to grab their chance to take the lead, Liverpool were. Alexander-Arnold delivered a dangerous cross into the area, and Salah met it with a deft right-footed volley that went beyond the reach of the outstretched Dubravka.

Salah nearly turned provider for another Liverpool goal as he and Sadio Mane combined on the break. Salah sent Mane through with a perfectly weighted through ball, but the Senegalese star sent his shot straight at the Newcastle keeper, who stood up well.

Rondon had a decent chance to pull Newcastle level in the second half, but Alisson was more than equal to his shot on the turn. Just seconds later, Liverpool’s own No. 9 — Daniel Sturridge — had his chance on goal, but he blazed his effort way over.

But Rondon proved to be much more clinical with next chance on 54 minutes. The ball found its way to Rondon after a corner, and the Newcastle striker unleashed a thumping strike which gave Alisson absolutely no chance.

Despite a Premier League win against Newcastle, Liverpool are devastated following Salah's injury

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah on the ground after colliding with Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka

Things went bad to worse for Liverpool as Salah suffered a head injury after he collided with an on-rushing Dubravka. The Liverpool star had to be stretchered off, putting his availability for the second leg against Barcelona in serious doubt.

Divock Origi was sent on in Salah’s place to look for a vital winning goal, and the Belgian delivered with another entry into the top Premier League 2019 highlights. From a Xherdan Shaqiri free kick, Origi rose highest to head the ball home — and keep Liverpool’s Premier League dream alive for one more week.

Key statistics

Mohamed Salah’s goal was his 22nd Premier League goal of the season, putting him two clear of team-mate Sadio Mane and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero for the league lead. It was also Salah’s 100th goal in European top-flight football, with 56 coming in the Premier League.

Liverpool are the first team in Premier League history to have at least two defenders with 10 or more assists each in a single season. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson currently have 11 assists apiece.

Liverpool also added to their lead in terms of most headed goals (18) and goals from substitutes (12) among Premier League teams this season.

Meanwhile, Newcastle suffered just their second home defeat in their last eight games at St. James’ Park.

What’s next?

Liverpool will still have a chance of winning the Premier League when they face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on the final day of the season. However, they will still need Man City to drop points in at least one of their two remaining matches.

Chelsea Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 2.05 Over 2.50 @ 1.79 1X2 Chelsea @ 2.05 Third Line text CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.Premier League

But before all of that, Liverpool still have to host Barcelona at Anfield for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final in midweek. The Reds face an uphill battle to reach a second straight final after going down 3-0 in the first leg.

Meanwhile, Newcastle will end their season at relegated Fulham, who have only pride left to play for.

 

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Keita’s injury saddens Klopp

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Naby Keita will miss the rest of the season after being injured during Wednesday's 3-0 defeat to Barcelona.

It is anticipated that the 24-year-old Guinea international, who moved to Anfield from RB Leipzig, will be sidelined until the beginning of July after suffering an adductor issue in the early stages of the Champions League semi-final first-leg clash at the Camp Nou.

Klopp said: "It was really unlucky. Bad news, he has a high-grade adductor injury; the tendon is ruptured, which keeps him out for at least two months.

"Bad news for us obviously, but bad news for Guinea as well because the Africa Cup of Nations is coming up.

"He was in a really good moment – a really, really good moment – but it happened, that's how football and life sometimes are. It's not too nice, but it's very serious."

Meanwhile, Klopp is unsure whether Roberto Firmino will be able to feature on Saturday when Liverpool face Newcastle United at St James' Park.

"We will see, we will see," he replied when asked whether the Brazilian would be available for the match. Firmino came on as a 79th-minute substitute against Barcelona.

Liverpool, 7/2 to win the Premier League title, can be backed at 4/11 to beat Newcastle this weekend and at 6/1 to win the game 2-0.

Premier League: Will Rafa Wreck Reds’ Title Hopes?

Newcastle United vs Liverpool

Things are not looking too great for Liverpool at the moment. The Reds have one foot out the door in the Champions League after a resounding 3-0 defeat in their semi-final first leg against Barcelona.

And in the Premier League, they still need leaders Manchester City to slip up to stand any chance at winning the title. City just about got the job done at Burnley and are now two games away from defending their crown.

All Liverpool can do now is take care of their own business as they go to Newcastle on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season.

The Magpies have been quite formidable on their home turf this season, though, and could just be the ones to put an end to the Merseysiders’ title hopes.

Talking Points

St. James’ Park has been a fortress

This season has been another successful one for Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United. Despite receiving minimal investment in the side, Benitez has once again led Newcastle to mid-table safety.

Newcastle owe much of their success this season to their outstanding home form. Their Premier League 2019 results at St. James’ Park have been excellent as they have won six of their last seven games. That’s quite an impressive turnaround from the first half of the season, where they lost their first five home games and eight of their first 11.

They thumped Southampton 3-1 in their most recent home game, with Ayoze Perez scoring a hat-trick. The young Spaniard has had a brilliant season, leading the team with 11 Premier League goals. He’s done a good deal of his damage later in the year, with five goals in his last three appearances.

But after scoring the opening goal in their draw against Brighton last time out, Perez had to come off due to injury. While the Spaniard says he will make sure to be fit for Liverpool, his status is still up in the air.

Losing Perez would obviously be a massive blow to Newcastle given the significant part he’s played in the team’s attack this season. And with impressive newcomer Miguel Almiron still missing as well, Newcastle could be quite lightweight in attack.

Liverpool’s response to Barcelona loss

Liverpool must consider themselves terribly unlucky after their first leg against Barcelona. Despite playing relatively well, they still got thumped 3-0 and will need something exceptional to make it to a second-straight final.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are still praying for a Manchester City slip-up in order to overtake the reigning champions. The Reds have done just about everything in their power to win the Premier League. They’ve lost just once all season and have won their last seven games on the bounce.

Premier League: Can Liverpool bounce back from the Champions League defeat?

Liverpool’s Fabinho reacted after Barcelona scored their third goal during the Champions League semi-finals at Camp Nou

And after three consecutive away draws — which could potentially prove costly — they have also won their last three in a row outside of Anfield.

The big question will be how Liverpool respond after their loss to Barca. It certainly has the potential to be a demoralising defeat. However, manager Jurgen Klopp has shown he’s capable of lifting his team up, and with the season so close to the finish line, the players should be eager to respond.

Liverpool will likely be without Naby Keita, who suffered a groin injury against Barcelona. But there’s a chance Roberto Firmino will make his way back to the first XI after starting on the substitutes’ bench in Spain.

History

Newcastle and Liverpool have been in a fair few battles over the years. The Merseysiders hold the decided edge in the all-time head-to-head, with 71 wins in their 151 meetings. Newcastle have won on 42 occasions, while the two have drawn 38 times.

In terms of recent meetings, Liverpool have won their last two meetings by a total of six goals to nil. Although, both have been at Anfield. Liverpool battered Newcastle 4-0 in their first meeting this season.

However, Newcastle have gotten the better of Liverpool when they’ve come to visit Tyneside. The Magpies are unbeaten in their last four home games against Liverpool (two wins, two draws) and have lost just once in the last seven (four wins, two draws).

Betting Tip

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Newcastle United vs Liverpool Newcastle United Asian Handicap +1.50 @ 1.83
May 05, 02:45 (GMT+8)

Newcastle United vs Liverpool betting odds are predictably skewed toward the Reds. However, there is a compelling case to be made for Newcastle being fairly competitive in this match.

As noted above, their home form has been outstanding in recent months and Benitez is a master at setting his team up against the top sides. And while Benitez has a strong connection with Liverpool, he’s not likely to make things easy for his old team.

The possible absence of Ayoze Perez will certainly be a blow to the Newcastle attack, but their defence is still capable of stifling a Liverpool side which likely won’t have quite as much energy after a taxing midweek encounter at the Camp Nou.

With those factors in mind, Newcastle should be worth a punt on the us Asian handicap sports betting market.

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

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Benitez vows to keep Perez

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez says he has no intention of selling Ayoze Perez this summer even though the player has hinted that he would like to move to Spain.

Perez scored a hat-trick last weekend as the Magpies beat Southampton 3-1 to bring his goal tally for the season up to 11.

The 25-year-old moved to Tyneside from Tenerife almost five years ago and has been a regular in the Newcastle side ever since, finding the net 40 times in 176 league appearances for the club.

Benitez, who is believed to be in new contract talks with the club himself, said of Perez: "Yes, he is an important player for us.

"I do not see any problem now. Finish the season, see what happens and if someone comes for this player or that, it is very normal when players are doing well. If someone comes, deal with that.

"I am the first one to criticise Ayoze. Why? Because he has to be more consistent and he has the potential. You cannot criticise a player who cannot give you more. But Ayoze is one that we know he can do well, he can do better and he has room for improvement.

"You have to push them and find the balance."

Newcastle are 5/2 to beat Brighton on Saturday and 8/1 to win the match 1-0.

Benitez confirms new deal talks

Rafael Benitez hinted after watching his Newcastle United side win 1-0 at Leicester City on Friday that he is set to extend his stay on Tyneside.

Ayoze Perez scored the only goal of the match in the first half with a header from Matt Ritchie's excellent cross.

The victory means Newcastle are 10 points clear of the bottom three although Benitez insists his team are not yet safe from relegation.

The former Liverpool and Chelsea manager, who is out of contract at the end of the season, said after the King Power Stadium clash: "We have been talking about it behind closed doors but we didn't want to talk about it in public because we wanted to keep the players focused on the games.

"Now we are closer it may be easier but there is still the same situation so we have to be sure we do the right things.

"We're not safe yet. I think we are closer but we have to see what happens. We have to be careful.

"For me, 38 points was the mark that you could be safe but Cardiff have won some games so we will see. We are closer and we are confident that could be enough."

Meanwhile, Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers was not too despondent, despite seeing his side's four-match winning run come to an end.

He said: "We found it difficult to break them down but the players gave everything."

Newcastle are 13/10 to beat Southampton next Saturday and 13/8 to keep a clean sheet against Saints.

Injury ends Lejeune’s season

Newcastle United will be without defender Florian Lejeune for the rest of the season after he suffered a serious knee injury against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The Frenchman had to leave the pitch on a stretcher after sustaining the injury following a challenge with Palace winger Andros Townsend.

"Lejeune has been ruled out for the remainder of the current season and further updates on his recovery will be provided in due course," Newcastle said on their official website.

The 27-year-old missed the start of the campaign after sustaining an injury to his right knee in pre-season.

Meanwhile, Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez refused to talk about whether he would be signing a new contract with the club after the 1-0 defeat to the Eagles at St James' Park.

"We had control of an important game and we could have got three points and we could be talking [about the contract], because we're safe," he said.

"But now we have to carry on and think every game is another final. I don't want to talk about my contract.

"I think we did enough to deserve three points. We had chances and, although we knew they would be dangerous on the counter-attack, we had control of the game. We made a mistake and we paid for that."

The only goal of the game was scored by Luka Milivojevic from the penalty spot after DeAndre Yedlin had brought down Wilfried Zaha.

Newcastle are 17/4 to win their next match against Leicester City on Friday and 14/1 to win the game 1-0.

Benitez eyes top-half finish

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has set his players the target of finishing in the Premier League's top-10 again this season.

Five home victories in a row have virtually banished any relegation fears for the Magpies, who are 17/4 to draw at Arsenal on Monday.

Newcastle finished 10th last season and on course to replicate that feat this term – they have the same number of points after 31 matches as they had at the same stage of the 2017/18 campaign.

Benitez said: "If we do well, we can finish 10th again if we do more or less the same between now and the end of the season.

"At the moment, we are fine and I have read some players talking about that [finishing 10th], so we will see if we are safe enough, where we can go.

"We have to do exactly the same, try to get points in every game. At least we have this feeling of confidence because we are doing well. The team are doing a lot of things with more confidence and we have more chances and then we are more of a threat in attack.

"Why? Because the players know each other much better, they know exactly what we are trying to do."

Salomon Rondon is 3/1 to score at any time on Monday for a Newcastle side that are 15/2 to beat the Gunners.

Ramsey making good progress

Unai Emery is optimistic that Aaron Ramsey will have recovered from a thigh injury in time to play for Arsenal against Newcastle United on Monday.

Ramsey was forced to withdraw from the Wales squad for their games against Trinidad and Tobago and Slovakia earlier this month.

Gunners boss Emery also remains hopeful that Granit Xhaka and Dinos Mavropanos will be fit enough to feature against the Magpies.

Emery, who has been with the Arsenal players that were not on international duty at a training camp in Dubai, said: "Aaron Ramsey and Dinos Mavropanos should be okay and ready for Monday.

"The first previews from the doctor's analysis on Xhaka is that he can be okay to play on Monday.

"In this international break we decided to go away to train for four days and play a match in Dubai.

"Denis Suarez is doing well. I think he is okay for starting in the first 11 or for giving us this impact after. But I think now, our focus is collectively very strongly focused on helping in 90 minutes, or 50 minutes, or one minute. We are going to need every player for the next matches.

"Monday's match is going to be very difficult. Newcastle are in a good moment. They have a lot good players and good organisation. The coach has a lot of experience and he is very competitive and I know that."

Arsenal, 4/7 to finish in the top four this season, can be backed at 4/11 to beat Newcastle on Monday.