The key points from Benitez’s pre-Arsenal presser – team news & Rafa’s key warning

Rafa Benitez has been speaking to the media today ahead of Sunday’s visit of Arsenal to St James’ Park.

Here’s a round-up of all the key points from today’s presser:

Rafa on injuries and the chances of naming an unchanged side once again on Sunday:

“Everybody has been training so it is good news. It is helped create competition.

“When you are playing one game a week, the players are playing well, training well. If someone is lazy in training I will make a change but at the minute they are fine.”

Rafa on Arsenal and them playing two games in quick succession (they played in Moscow last night):

“When you are used to playing two games a week and have an experienced manager it doesn’t matter much. I don’t think it will be an advantage for us.

“The reality is Arsenal are one of the top teams in English football. They have quality and can make the difference.”

“They are a good team, with good players and an excellent coach. They are in the Europa League semi-finals, they are one of the top sides in England but we have confidence we can get a result.”

Rafa’s response when asked what was the key factor behind our recent turnaround in form:

“Maybe in January when we brought in Kenedy and Dubravka. It was a key factor.” 

Rafa on Kenedy and Dubravka:

“In January when we brought in Dubravka and Kenedy they gave us different things. Everybody was trying even harder. The mentality of this group is quite good.

“I would like to see him (play) but it is up to him to train well. We have Joselu and Dwight Gayle training well also. It is up to him.”

Rafa on Kenedy’s future:

“It is too early to think about the future. He is doing well and getting more experience in the Premier League but at the minute we are concentrating on getting 40 points”

Rafa on Slimani:

“I would like to see him (play) but it is up to him to train well. We have Joselu and Dwight Gayle training well also. It is up to him.”

Rafa on our Premier League safety:

“40 points is still the target. We need two more points. The players know we are in a much better position but we can hopefully get 40 points this weekend and then look for more.”

Rafa when asked if he would be shocked to see us finish 10th:

“I have to be honest, yes. We had a bad run but once we had that we had more confidence from January.

“Now we want to make sure we stay there and if we can, go higher.”

Rafa on the NUFC fans:

“I want them to keep pushing the team like they have all season. But I want them to enjoy the team playing well and winning games.

“The fans away are singing all the time and then when you have 52,000 at home it is a positive thing for everyone.”

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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

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