Costly cup win for Magpies

Newcastle's 4-2 FA Cup third round replay win at Blackburn came at a cost after they lost both Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles to injury.

Magpies boss Rafael Benitez made eight changes to the side which started in Saturday's 2-1 Premier League defeat at Chelsea.

However, Newcastle made a flying start at Ewood Park when Sean Longstaff scored after a minute with a deflected 25-yard shot, before Callum Roberts added the second on 22 minutes.

But, Rovers came back to level before the break thanks to Adam Armstrong's finish and Darragh Lenihan's powerful header.

The tie went to extra-time where Joselu and Ayoze Perez were on the scoresheet to seal a first win in seven matches in all competitions for Newcastle and booked them a fourth-round home tie against Watford.

But the loss of defensive duo Clark and Lascelles because of respective knee and hamstring problems is something Benitez can ill-afford with his side 18th in the Premier League and facing fellow strugglers Cardiff City at St James' Park on Saturday.

The Spanish tactician said: "We need to wait until Wednesday and see how they are, and if they cannot play then we will bring another one in. Jamaal Lascelles was limping because he felt something.

"When it is a hamstring, you never know."

On the win, Benitez added: "The young players did well, and the main thing was that everybody was giving 100% for each other and that is what we did.

"The commitment and the team effort is there and you have to be pleased and carry confidence forward when you score four goals. The main thing is to get three points against Cardiff."

Newcastle, who are 66/1 to win the FA Cup this season, are 10/11 to defeat Cardiff in the league this weekend, while the Bluebirds are priced at 10/3 and the draw is 23/10.

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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.

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.

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."

Reds extend lead again

Liverpool have established a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League following a 4-0 Boxing Day win over Newcastle at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp's side had no problems dispatching the Magpies and former Reds favourite Rafael Benitez, with goals from Dejan Lovren early on, then Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho in the second half.

Champions Manchester City meanwhile were throwing away a lead in losing 2-1 at Leicester City, ensuring it is now Tottenham that are Liverpool's nearest pursuers following their 5-0 win over Bournemouth at Wembley.

Klopp reflected on a 'job done' performance against a stubborn visiting side.

"The start of the game offensively was very lively, defensively a bit in between. I didn't like it too much," said the Liverpool manager.

"But apart from that the whole game was really good. We could've scored more, the chances were there with fantastic movements. Right to the end we were wanting to control the game but still wanted to score.

"It's difficult to break down Newcastle's formation. They worked hard but the boys stayed in the game and did the job."

Liverpool are 1/2 to beat Arsenal on Saturday at Anfield. The Gunners are 19/4 with the draw priced at 7/2.

Benitez reiterated his belief that 'a miracle' is needed to keep Newcastle in Premier League.

"You can see the difference between some teams. We have to carry on doing things right and we have to be better than three teams," said the Spaniard.

Wolves urged to stay positive

Nuno Espirito Santo is determined not to get too carried away by Wolves' impressive 2-1 victory against Chelsea at Molineux.

Wolves hit back from going a goal behind to defeat the 2016/17 Premier League champions on Wednesday and Nuno is keen to maintain the momentum when his side visit Newcastle United, 7/2 to be relegated this season, on Sunday.

The victory against Chelsea ended a run of six games without a victory for Wolves, who are 17/10 to win at St James' Park and 13/2 to triumph 1-0.

Nuno said: "We won a very difficult game, but we didn't solve all our problems. We made mistakes against Chelsea even though we won. We have the same approach, positives and negatives, and we try to find solutions and prepare for Newcastle.

"The way we conceded the goal, we were organised and suddenly there's a deflection and you're behind against a big team.

"The reaction was very good and this is the building of a team that wants to compete against any opponent. We still have a very long way to go, but the way we reacted was very good."

Nuno has a full squad to choose from for the trip to the north-east apart from the injured Jonny.

Wolves can be backed at 9/1 to beat Rafa Benitez's team from behind.

Pellegrini calls for more of the same

Manuel Pellegrini was as pleased that his side kept a clean sheet as he was with the quality of the goals West Ham scored in the 3-0 win at Newcastle United.

The Chilean thought his Hammers team had played so well on Tyneside that they could have scored four or five more goals.

Javier Hernandez grabbed a brace, and should have scored at least two more goals, while the outstanding Felipe Anderson netted a super late third goal as Pellegrini's team eased to victory at St James' Park.

But the veteran West Ham manager was particularly pleased that his side kept only their second clean sheet in the Premier League this season.

Pellegrini said: "We are very satisfied because I think the team played a very good game. We scored three good goals and created at least four or five more chances to score. And we kept a clean sheet, which is not very normal for us this season, so we're pleased. It was the complete game."

West Ham host Cardiff City on Tuesday, with Pellegrini adding: "I think that the worst mistake we can make is that a fixture is available to win easily for us.

"I think that we need to play the next game the same way and knowing that we need to work hard to recover without the ball and, in attack, we need to play the same way."

The Hammers are 13/20 to beat Cardiff and 15/2 to secure a 2-0 victory against Neil Warnock's outfit.

Vokes admits drop fears

Sam Vokes has admitted that Burnley are embroiled in a relegation scrap this season after Monday's 2-1 defeat against Newcastle at Turf Moor.

The Wales international striker was on target for the Clarets with a 40th-minute header which reduced the deficit after a Ben Mee own goal and Ciaran Clark's header put the visitors two-up inside 23 minutes.

Burnley failed to find an equaliser in the second half and the defeat leaves them winless in six Premier League matches and languishing in 17th position, just one point outside of the relegation places.

Sean Dyche's men face another huge game on Saturday when they travel to face a Crystal Palace side who are above them on goal difference in the table.

And Vokes has issued a warning to his team-mates to forget last season's impressive seventh-placed finish and start battling to secure some points and pull themselves clear of the drop zone.

He told the Lancashire Telegraph: "We have a high expectation now off the back of last season, within ourselves and I am sure the fans do as well. It is about dealing with that expectation because at the end of the day we are in a battle now, there is no hiding away from it, and it is going to be tough but we have some big games coming up and hopefully we can turn it around.

"We are a battling club and we have always been that. We did amazing last year and that was a huge achievement but for us we want to get back to what we are about and we are going to be in a battle now and it is important we have everyone behind us.

"There is plenty of time until the end of the season, we know that. We are not getting carried away or sucked into things but it is important we address the issue and pick points up, especially at home because that is important in the Premier League."

Burnley, who are 8/11 to be relegated, can be backed at 11/2 to win at Palace on Saturday, while the hosts are priced at 11/20 and the draw is 11/4.

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Benitez staying grounded

Rafael Benitez watched his Newcastle side record their third successive Premier League victory at Burnley but insisted the fight for survival is "a long running race".

The Magpies went into the game on the back of 10 straight defeats when playing on a Monday night, while they had not tasted victory at Turf Moor since 1975.

However, an early Ben Mee own goal and Ciaran Clark's glancing header put them two-up inside the opening 23 minutes.

Sam Vokes pulled one back five minutes before the half-time interval, but they visitors held on for the win which moves them four points clear of the relegation places.

Despite a third successive win easing the pressure at St James' Park, Benitez warned his players that they cannot become relaxed in their quest to ensure they remain a top-flight side this season.

He said: "It's a long running race.

"Now we have won three in a row. What does that mean? Nothing. We are happier, we have more confidence but still we have to keep winning games if we want to stay up.

"The same message when we were losing is the message now when we are winning."

Benitez added: "It was a difficult game. We knew it could be tough, they are a strong team, very physical with the two strikers, wingers with pace. The three centre-backs did a great job.

"The team was pushing quite hard, we started well. It was a pity for us not to score the third goal but in the end to get three points I think is something we have to be really pleased with."

Newcastle, who are priced at 5/1 to drop into the Championship this season, can be backed at 11/8 to make it four successive wins when West Ham are the visitors on Saturday. The Hammers are 2/1 to win and the draw is 11/5.

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Dyche expects duo to feature

Burnley boss Sean Dyche hopes that Steven Defour and Johann Berg Gudmundsson will be able to play in Monday's crunch clash against Newcastle United.

However, Ben Gibson and James Tarkowski will once again miss out.

Defour fell awkwardly during the 0-0 draw at Leicester City a fortnight ago at the King Power Stadium and had to be substituted while Gudmundsson has recovered from the calf problem that forced him to pull out of the Iceland squad during the international break.

Dyche said: "Steven came off at Leicester with a mild twist to his knee but he's made really good progress. We're expecting him to be fine."

Meanwhile, former Middlesbrough defender Gibson is making good progress after enduring a second hernia operation three weeks ago.

"Ben is over the worst of his hernia," added Dyche. "He's had a really good week's training. He's a super fit pro anyway and he's looked after himself for sure, so we're looking forward to having him back soon."

Tarkowski also had a second hernia operation recently, with the Clarets boss saying: "He's going nicely on the grass. He's not quite with us yet and Monday will probably come too early for him.

"Nick Pope is back on the grass with our goalkeeping coach, making good progress as well, so we're beginning to show strong signs of numbers coming back our way."

Burnley, 11/10 to be relegated this season, can be backed at 7/1 to beat Newcastle 1-0.