Benitez Earns First Win To Move Newcastle Closer To Safety

Rafael BenitezRafael Benitez earned his first win as Newcastle United manager and boosted their hopes of staying in the Barclays Premier League with a 3-0 victory over Swansea City on Saturday.

Benitez made five changes to the starting XI in response to last weekend’s defeat by Southampton and the Spaniard’s team selection was vindicated on his birthday, with Newcastle earning their reward for a much-improved showing.

Jamaal Lascelles, who came in for Steven Taylor in the back four, opened the scoring in the 40th minute, heading in only his second goal for the club from Andros Townsend’s corner.

Jefferson Montero and Bafetimbi Gomis both spurned big chances for Swansea before Moussa Sissoko’s first goal of the campaign and Townsend’s late third sealed a result that, combined with Sunderland’s 3-0 win at Norwich City, moves Newcastle within three points of safety with five matches to play.

Newcastle United boss, Rafael Benitez, praised the “passion and commitment” shown by his players in their victory over Swansea City.

“I have to say congratulations to the players,” Benitez told BBC Sport. “They showed passion and commitment. Thank you to the fans. If we stick together then it’s easier for us to approach the game and gives us the chance to win. The players that started were really good. And the other players who came on helped the team.

“Striker Papiss Cisse was fantastic up front and Aleksandar Mitrovic was good too when he came on. When you win games everybody is happy. Today we saw what we expect from this team.

“We have to show the same in the other games. We were not thinking about the earlier win for Sunderland over Norwich. Now we can see the table but before the game it was about focusing on the game.”

The North-East outfit are now three points within safety with five games left to play.

Ranieri, Kane Win Premier League Awards For March

Premier LeagueHarry Kane and Claudio Ranieri have won the March Barclays Premier League awards for Player and Manager of the Month respectively.

Ranieri guided Leicester City to a draw and three 1-0 wins over Watford, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace, to maintain their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

He was voted for the award ahead of a managerial shortlist that featured AFC Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe (W3 L1), West Ham’s Slaven Bilic (W2 D1) and Swansea City’s Francesco Guidolin (W3 L1).

It is the fourth time Ranieri has claimed the Barclays manager award, the joint-most for an Italian alongside former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti. Ranieri is the 15th manager to have won the award four times.

Ranieri won the award in November this season and also was awarded it twice during the 2003/04 campaign when with Chelsea.

No Leicester manager has won the award more than once in one season, although Martin O’Neill claimed it three times in a three-year period from September 1997.

Ranieri has the chance to join Joe Kinnear (1993/94 with Wimbledon) and Sir Alex Ferguson (1999/00 with Manchester United) and Ancelotti (2010/11) to have won the award three times in one season. That feat is also possible for Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino, who was named manager of the month in August and February.

Five goals in four matches won the Barclays Player of the Month award for Kane, a tally that has taken him to the top of the race for the Barclays Golden Boot with 22 goals so far.

He beat a shortlist that also included Southampton’s Graziano Pelle, Swansea City’s Ashley Williams, Leicester duo Wes Morgan and Riyad Mahrez, and West Ham United’s Dimitri Payet.

It is the third time Kane has claimed the award, after winning it in January and February last year.


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Premier League: Arsenal, Man City Win Big As Spurs Draw

Premier LeagueHarry Kane’s 63rd minute equaliser for Premier League title contenders Tottenham Hotspurs against Liverpool rescued his team from defeat at Anfield and gave them a share of the spoils.

Elsewhere Super Eagles forward Alex Iwobi helped Arsenal beat Odion Ighalo’s Watford 4-0 at the Emirates.

The 19-year-old set up Alexis Sanchez for the gunners first in the 4th minute, before adding his second EPL strike in his second start on 38 minutes. Hector Bellerin and Theo Walcott scored Arsenal’s 3rd and 4th goals.

In other matches, Manchester City maintain 4th spot on the log with a 4-0 win over Bournemouth, while West Ham’s push for a top 4 finish was slowed by Crystal Palace in a 2-2 draw at the Boleyn ground.

Norwich City also edged Newcastle United 3-2 to boost their chances of avoiding relegation. Stoke City and Swansea City battled to a 2-2 draw, while Sunderland and West Brom played goalless.

In the day’s lunch-time kick-off, Alexandre Pato marked his Chelsea debut with a goal as the Barclays Premier League champions won 4-0 to leave Aston Villa on the brink of relegation.



Sturridge Out For Another 10 Days – Klopp

sturridgeLiverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, has confirmed that Daniel Sturridge will remain out of action for at least another 10 days.

Klopp said that he would give the England striker as much time as he needs to recover from the hamstring injury sustained against Newcastle United in December.

Sturridge has played just 108 minutes of football since Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers in October.

He has missed Liverpool’s past 11 matches in all competitions since the 2-0 defeat by the Magpies on December 6.

EPL: Man City, Tottenham, Bournemouth Earn Convincing Victories

EPLTottenham Hotspur beat Sunderland 4-1 at White Hart Lane in the English Premier League early kick off on Saturday.

Bournemouth also defeated Norwich city 3-0 at the Vitality Stadium to move further above relegation in the EPL.

Goals from Fabian Delph, David Silva and a brace from Sergio Aguero ensured that Manchester City thrashed Crystal Palace 4-0 at the Ethihad Stadium.

Elsewhere Steve Mclaren’s Newcastle United defeated West Ham 2-1 at Saint James’ Park while Southampton secured a convincing 3-nil victory over West Bromwich Albion.

Chelsea captain, John Terry, came from being the villain to a hero as the Blues escaped another home defeat on Saturday.

A late equalizer by the 35-year-old ensured the game against Everton ended 3-3 at Stamford Bridge.


Capital One Cup: Man Utd, Man City Get Home Draws In Round 4

capital-one-cupManchester United and Manchester City have been rewarded with home draws in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.

Louis Van Gaal’s side will host Championship side, Middlesbrough, having eased past Ipswich 3-nil at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

Manchester City will welcome Crystal Palace to the Etihad Stadium, while Sheffield Wednesday’s reward for beating Newcastle United is a home game against Arsenal.

There are four other all Premier League ties with Everton playing Norwich, Southampton paired with Aston Villa and Stoke hosting the holders, Chelsea.

Liverpool survived a scare against League Two side, Carlisle, squeezing through 3-2 on penalties at Anfield.

Liverpool will host Bournemouth in the next round.

Liverpool Will Fight Until The End For Top Four – Rodgers

LiverpoolBrendan Rodgers has pledged that Liverpool will fight ‘until the very end’ for a top-four position after watching his side close the gap with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United at Anfield.

Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen were on target in either half for the Reds against the Magpies on Monday night to secure a return to winning ways in the Barclays Premier League.

The win was the required response following back-to-back defeats by Manchester United and Arsenal and moved Rodgers’ side to within four points of Manchester City in fourth.

“We’re going to fight right until the very end,” the manager explained to reporters at his post-match press conference from inside the stadium.

“We were obviously on a great run and we won 10 out of 13 games, which has given us a chance. We had two disappointing results. But we’re a group that is very much learning.

“We knew we had to respond to those two defeats – we got ourselves into the semi-finals of a prestigious cup competition and won tonight, which was important for us.”

The race for Champions League qualification is still very much alive then with six matches remaining in the campaign, and City now much more within reach.

Asked whether he believes the gap can be successfully eradicated by his team by the end of May, Rodgers responded: “The players are really set.

“There are obviously teams still above us and four points is the difference, but as we saw last year there can be a lot of changes and I still think there will be changes and points dropped in the last six games.

“For us, it’s important that we can just focus on getting wins and see where it takes us. I feel that the players and I are very motivated to do the very best that we can.

“We’ve shown that we can put wins together consistently. It’s a very hungry group that’s improving and getting better. We’ve got important players coming back now, which is good news.

“We feel we have every chance. Of course, we’re looking for other teams to slip up, but we’ve got to continue winning. If we can do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

The Reds edged ahead of Newcastle after just nine minutes, Sterling collecting a raking pass from Jordan Henderson, jinking inside from the left and sending a finish curling past Tim Krul.

John Carver’s team battled back and troubled the home defence but Simon Mignolet stood firm, allowing Allen to crisply knock in a half-volley at the Kop end to secure the points.

The boss said of the opener: “It was a wonderful touch by young Raheem and it was a great ball by Jordan. He took a touch in a tight space and then he’s worked his magic in the box.

“It was a great finish and we needed that because we didn’t start great in the first seven or eight minutes, but once we got the goal, I thought that then we had good control of the game.

“It was a good performance. I thought that our attacking play in the game was very bright. I thought we looked really exciting going forward.

“We worked very, very hard on the back of the midweek game, which was a tough game. We know Newcastle have got good players that can hurt you, especially on the counter-attack.

“We had a lot of the ball tonight – at times our possession could have been better. I thought that we were a bit loose at times with the ball.

“But I thought we had real attacking intent in the game and we created chances. We maybe could have got one or two more goals. But a clean sheet and to win 2-0 at home against Newcastle was an important result for us.”


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Kane, Giroud Nominated For PFA Fans’ Award

GiroudArsenal’s Olivier Giroud  and Tottenham Hotspurs striker, Harry Kane, have been nominated for the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month in the Premier League award for March.

The France international has enjoyed a productive month, scoring six times in six matches, including a goal and an assist against West Ham United as well as a brace against Newcastle United.

Tottenham Hotspurs striker, Harry Kane, who is in line to make his England debut this week, bagged five goals for his club during March to help the north Londoners keep their top four hopes alive.

The 21-year-old is the joint-top scorer in the Premier League along with Chelsea’s Diego Costa, after netting 19 goals for Maurico Pochettino’s side.

The Tottenham frontman has been in sensational form of late with a hat-trick on Saturday.

Here is the full list of the players nominated:

Harry Kane

Eden Hazard

Jordan Henderson

Olivier Giroud

Marouane Fellaini

Ameobi Joins Crystal Palace On Free Transfer

Shola_AmeobiNigerian international, Shola Ameobi, has signed a short-term contract with Crystal Palace until the end of the season on a free transfer after leaving Turkish side Gaziantep last month.

The 33-year-old got recognised during his time at Newcastle United, where he spent 14 years after breaking into the first-team from their academy.

In nearly a decade and a half on Tyneside, he appeared 397 times for the Magpies, scoring 79 goals, winning the Championship in 2009/10 and representing the club in the UEFA Champions League.

“I’m very excited to be here, I wanted to get back in the Premier League and having worked with the manager before, it’s been great to come back and hopefully help us avoid the relegation battle,” he said.

“I had a couple of other clubs interested but I think my relationship with Alan (Pardew) and how much I enjoyed working with him was one of the big factors in my decision.

“He instils confidence in players and he always seems to get the best out of them, certainly he did that at Newcastle and hopefully he can do that for me and the rest of the lads here,” the elated Ameobi told Crystal Palace official website.

Ameobi has also won 10 caps for Nigeria where he was born before moving to Newcastle as a youngster. He represented the Super Eagles in the 2014 World Cup, having previously won 20 caps for the England under-21 side.

He is no stranger to Palace boss Alan Pardew, having played under him for Newcastle for four years before moving to Turkey in the summer on a free after his contract expired. He scored four times in 11 outings for Gaziantep before returning to England just before the new year.

The Nigerian becomes the club’s third signing of the current transfer window after Yaya Sanogo and Jordon Mutch. He will wear the number 23 shirt during his time with the Eagles.

Headed Goals Special To Me – Giroud

GiroudOlivier Giroud says he gets a “special satisfaction” from scoring an old-fashioned centre forward’s header.

The France striker has found the net four times since returning from injury but it was his first goal against Newcastle United that gave him the greatest pleasure.

However, despite scoring four headers in his last five games against the Magpies, Giroud told Arsenal’s official matchday programme that his aerial ability is a skill he still needs to improve.

“It’s a special satisfaction because people say when you are tall you have to score more goals with your head,” he explained.

“I was a bit frustrated to miss the chance against Stoke because it could’ve been a good comeback when we were 1-0 down. It was a great delivery and I didn’t snatch it properly.

“I was telling myself that I will score the next cross and that was against Newcastle. Alexis made a good cross and the most important thing is that my timing was right. I had a run-up as well.

“It’s surprising to hear but headers aren’t my best quality. I have the timing but I still need to work on the technique. You always have a side you prefer more than the other one, so I try to work on it every week and it’s something I can improve,” Giroud said.

Debuchy Undergoes Surgery To Left Ankle

DebuchyArsène Wenger has confirmed that Mathieu Debuchy has had surgery on his left ankle and will be out for approximately three months.

The France international sustained the injury after falling awkwardly during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City at Emirates Stadium.

Once the injury had an initial period to settle, an assessment with a specialist on Friday confirmed the need for an operation and the 29-year-old was treated straight away.

He has had surgery and will be out for three months,” Wenger told “A reasonable delay is three months.

It all went well, but it can be a week or two earlier or a week or two later, but it will be around three months.

It is a blow of course, how big it will be we will only know afterwards because it will be down to how well we replace him. We bought [Calum] Chambers for that.”

Debuchy is often deployed in the right back position, but began his career playing as a midfielder usually acting as a deep-lying playmaker.

He spent nine-and-a-half seasons at Lille, including a Ligue 1 and Coupe de France double in 2010–11. He joined Newcastle United in January 2013, and was signed by Arsenal in July 2014.

Debuchy made his debut for the France national football team in 2011 and has since earned over 25 caps, playing at UEFA Euro 2012 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Mourinho Admits To Using Mind Games Ahead Of Newcastle Match

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has confessed that not everything he says in the Premier League title run-in will be the truth.

“Everything I say is mind games, everything I do is mind games, everything is mind games, you know. The only thing that is not mind games is the results,” he told reporters on Friday.

Mourinho fooled no-one on Monday when he ruled his team out of title contention after masterminding a 1-0 win at free-scoring Manchester City that left his team two points behind leaders Arsenal.

The Portuguese coach had a glint in his eye when he described his side as “a little horse that needed milk” in a race with the “two big horses” of Arsenal and second-placed City.

And he carried on that tone by maintaining that his squad’s big goal for the season was simply to finish in the top four places of the Premier League.

“Big objective for all of us is to finish top four, if possible top three, with direct qualification to the Champions League.”

However, his stance has now softened because Mourinho acknowledged that Chelsea could land the crown in May although he confirmed that they were outsiders.

“I am not saying we are not going to win, I am not saying that. I am saying we are not candidates. I am saying that we are outsiders,” he said on the eve of Saturday’s home league game with Newcastle United.

“Do we dream to win the Premier League? Of course, if you don’t do, we don’t play.”

Mourinho also hailed Chelsea’s improvement this season compared to their last campaign under Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benítez.

“I think last season in this moment, how many points we had less, how many points we were from Man United, I think huge difference. I think in this moment Chelsea was for sure outside of every possible race and struggling to get a top four position to play Champions League, so the people is enjoying. I see the boys enjoying the situation very much and that’s what I want them to do.”