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.

Klopp could strengthen in January

Liverpool may be top of the Premier League but Jurgen Klopp is not ruling out adding to the squad in the January transfer window.

The Reds enter the busy Christmas period four points clear at the top of the table and play Newcastle at home on Boxing Day.

However they do have some injury concerns and it is those which may prompt Klopp to buy in January.

Joe Gomez and Joel Matip will miss the meeting with former Reds manager Rafa Benitez while there are doubts over Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita.

The Liverpool boss says he is happy with the squad as it is, but will look at the injury situation before deciding what to do next month.

"I'm very happy with what I've got but I've always said, you don't know, I'll keep the door open.

"If some things happen, then we need to have a look. A monstrous number of games are coming up. It is really important that we can react.

"If something dramatically changes, we will need to have a look but if nothing happens, then we will not do anything."

In Liverpool's last game, a 2-0 victory over Wolves, James Milner was used as right-back but Klopp said he was one of the few around who can play in a number of different positions.

Their Boxing Day clash with Newcastle is followed by a home game against Arsenal on the 29th December and then a trip to Manchester City on 3rd January.

Liverpool are 1/6 to win on Boxing Day with Newcastle 18/1 and the draw 15/2.

Newcastle have problems of their own ahead of the trip to Anfield. Ki Sung-yueng is away on international duty with South Korea and Jonjo Shelvey may not have recovered from a thigh problem in time.

Liverpool are 11/10 to win the Premier League title at the end of the season with Manchester City 10/11.

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Benitez talks up survival challenge

Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez says it would be a miracle if his side avoided the drop from the Premier League this season.

The Magpies struggled for their first win at the start of the season but have seen an upturned in fortunes over recent months.

A 1-0 win over Huddersfield was backed up by a draw against Fulham last time out, which takes the Magpies to 15th place with five points between themselves and the drop.

Despite their recent form, veteran manager Benitez feels it would be something special if his side can maintain their Premier League status for next season.

"We have to be realistic and understand we will be in the bottom half for the season," said Benitez.

"For me, it is almost clear and if we can be better than three teams, it will be another miracle.

"It was a miracle last year. People were thinking, 'Oh, you finished 10th…', but with a couple fewer wins, we could have been in the bottom five, so it was a miracle.

"If we do the same this year with teams spending even more money than last year, it will be a miracle."

Newcastle are 9/2 to be relegated from the Premier League this season.

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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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Benitez retains title ambitions

Rafa Benitez says he is still ambitious to win silverware but hopes to do so while still in charge of Newcastle United.

With the ownership of the club still unstable, the United boss told La Gazetta dello Sport that he wants to manage at the highest level and has not ruled out a move away from St James' Park when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Talks over his future are due to take place after the January transfer window but, despite speculation linking him to China and Serie A, Benitez is keen to be the man to bring trophies back to Tyneside.

He said: "I still want to fight to win titles, raise trophies and to compete at the highest level.

"I have a young staff and we work together to find the mix that helps players get the most out of themselves.

"The fans are passionate if you always try to win. The methods are not very interesting for them [because it's all about the winning]."

Benitez won the Champions League while in charge of Liverpool in 2005 and has also won two La Liga titles and the UEFA Cup with Valencia.

After a winless start to the season which saw them bottom of the Premier League table, Newcastle entered the international break in good heart after successive victories which pulled them clear of the bottom three.

They are now on nine points for the season, just a point above the drop zone and travel to Burnley on Monday night, the Clarets on the same number of points.

United are 7/4 to make it three in a row with victory at Turf Moor with Burnley 39/20 and the draw 21/10.

Salomon Rondon, who scored both goals in Newcastle's win over Bournemouth two weeks ago, is 13/2 to score the first goal on Monday night.

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Ki influence key for Benitez

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez believes the influence of midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng has been crucial to his team registering back-to-back Premier League victories.

The Magpies failed to win any of their first ten league games this season, before securing a 1-0 win at home to Watford and a 2-1 home success against Bournemouth to move clear of the drop zone and significantly raise spirits on Tyneside.

And Benitez has spoken of the part played by Ki, who joined the Magpies from Swansea City in the summer.

He told The Chronicle: "When we signed him we knew he was a player who is quite good on the ball.

"He can pass well and make the right decisions, that is important for us. He has experience too and I think he has more composure on the ball.

"I think when you aren't doing well and not winning games it is more difficult to play.

"For players it is difficult because if they make a couple of mistakes you don't want to be involved because maybe you will make another one. I encourage them to try and try again.

"The experience of Ki, and the other players who can play with that confidence, can help when we have the ball in making the right decisions or better decisions than in the past."

Following the international break, Newcastle are back in action on the evening of Monday 26th November, when they head to Turf Moor to take on Burnley.

The visitors are 11/5 to claim a draw against the Clarets and are 7/1 to secure a 1-0 victory, with Newcastle 1/4 not to be relegated this season.

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Matchwinner Rondon impresses Rafa

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez was full of praise for Salomon Rondon after the loan striker scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday.

Venezuela international Rondon netted his first Premier League goals since joining the Magpies from West Brom, helping the hosts make in back-to-back wins in the top-flight.

And Benitez was delighted with the performance put on by Rondon, who the Spaniard believes is still some way short of full fitness.

He told Sky Sports: "We know he has to improve his match fitness, but he was doing really well, working hard and trying to fight with the defenders and give some time to the rest of the players coming to support him.

"That was pretty good. He showed what he can do and has given us something different.

"I was happy with Joselu, Ayoze Perez and Yoshinori Muto, but he's a different kind of striker. It's always good that kind of competition for us."

Next up for the Magpies in a trip to fellow strugglers Burnley on Monday 26th November, with the Clarets without a win in their last five league games.

Last season this fixture ended in a 1-0 win for the home side, with Jeff Hendrick scoring the only goal of the game 16 minutes from time at Turf Moor.

Newcastle can be backed at 11/5 to claim a draw against Burnley, with a 1-1 final scoreline available at 11/2, while a goalless draw is a 13/2 shot.

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Rondon happy with another win

Newcastle forward Salomon Rondon said he was delighted with his team's second successive win to take them further away from relegation trouble.

After a difficult start to the season United now have two in two following a 2-1 victory over Bournemouth, Rondon scoring both Newcastle's goals.

He gave them an early lead after good work from DeAndre Yedlin and made it two five minutes before half-time, powering a header into the net after a Kenedy cross.

The Cherries reduced the deficit deep into first half injury-time, through Jefferson Lerma and had a good chance to equalise from Jordan Ibe.

However, United held on and have now climbed out of the bottom three. They are 14th in the table though only a point above the bottom three in a congested bottom half of the Premier League.

Rondon said afterwards: "We need this to be honest, this is the way we need to keep working and fighting. You can see the level tonight, so we need to keep playing like that to stay up.

"Tonight I am really happy, we have played really well. I have to keep working, this is my job to score, I am very happy."

United were boosted by other results on Saturday. Though Cardiff had won earlier in the day, beating Brighton, both Southampton and Huddersfield were ahead in home games against Watford and West Ham respectively.

Both however ended up drawing, dropping points to boost Newcastle's league placing ahead of the international break.

United are next in action on 26th November when they travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley. They are 8/5 to make it three in a row while Sean Dyche's side are 7/4 with the draw 11/5.

Newcastle are 7/1 to win the game 1-0.

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