Rafa Benitez

Benitez: Kane tackle worse than Shelvey’s red card

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Rafa Benitez knows most teams aren’t going to find three points when two backs go down in the first half against a superior team.

He also knows that Jonjo Shelvey‘s red card was deserved, and that Spurs picked up a deserved win after Newcastle held them without real danger for 50 minutes.

[ MORE: Recap | Pochettino reacts ]

That’s where the understanding ends for Benitez, who saw big summer signing Florian Lejeune scythed down by a Harry Kane scissor kick and just a yellow card shown. Lejeune left the game, joining left back Paul Dummett as players needing first half subs.

From the BBC:

“It was difficult from the beginning. We had to adapt things [after injuries]. The red card changed everything. I think we were defending well. We have to improve. We had our chances but we missed them.”

“The Harry Kane tackle was worse than this one. It’s more dangerous. We lost one player from that. We made a mistake, but I think maybe someone has to analyse these things to see what’s more dangerous.”

Let’s be clear, Kane’s ugly tackle — easily a yellow card — wasn’t worse than Shelvey walking on Dele Alli‘s achilles tendon. But Benitez is right to feel aggrieved when Newcastle lost a major player on an unseemly tackle, and we’re sure he’s raging at Shelvey for ruining what looked like it could be a scoreless draw and welcome point from the Magpies’ Premier League return.

Newcastle United 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur: Dele breaks through 10-man Magpies

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  • Shelvey sent off
  • Scoreless at break
  • Dele with breakthrough
  • Davies adds insurance

Dele Alli drew a red card than scored the winner, and Ben Davies also scored as Tottenham Hotspur beat 10-man Newcastle United 2-0 at St. James Park on Sunday.

Jonjo Shelvey was sent off and will face a significant ban for stepping on Dele’s ankle after the midfielder delayed the match by holding onto the ball following a foul.

Spurs host Chelsea in one week’s time, while Newcastle visits Huddersfield Town on the same Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Newcastle opened pressing very high, and Spurs struggled to get the ball in the first five minutes as a loud St. James Park.

Dwight Gayle flubbed a couple chances, and the crowd lustily booed ex-Magpies midfielder Moussa Sissoko when he got the ball.

Newcastle left back Paul Dummett needed to leave the match after six minutes, and captain Jamaal Lascelles subbed into the mix.

A Javier Manquillo foul provided a rare chance for Spurs, but Harry Kane‘s heading a free kick bounced harmlessly to Magpies backstop Rob Elliot.

Newcastle was sloppy with its touches and passing, but its relentless pressure allowed the hosts most of the ball through most of the first half and a significant amount of corner kicks.

Rafa Benitez was forced into his second substitution when new signing Florian Lejeune was injured from a rash tackle from Kane — the Spurs man saw just yellow — and a second center back came off the bench in Chancel Mbemba.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Spurs found their footing around the 41st minute, and Elliot had a little work to do when Christian Eriksen curled a shot from outside the box.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jonjo Shelvey was given a red card after the break. Dele Alli handled the ball after a foul and would not release it. As Shelvey stepped over Dele to gather the ball, he stepped on the Spurs’ player’s ankle and was sent off.

Newcastle would have to play 42 minutes down a man.

Harry Kane made a sliding point-blank shot that Elliot foiled for a corner as Spurs mounted their attack.

It was Dele the villain who put Spurs ahead, rightly so, with a sliding finish off Christian Eriksen’s feed. Kane started the play, and Lascelles was victimized on the finish. 1-0, Spurs.

The Magpies held firm for less than 10 minutes, and this time it was Davies with a stylish finish of more fluid play from Dele, Kane, and Eriksen.

Christian Atsu put a shot into the outside of the netting in the 83rd minute as the Magpies sought a goal. A late free kick then saw Ciaran Clark hit a partial clearance right into Hugo Lloris‘ arms.

Kane, who doesn’t have a PL goal in any August, battered the post in the first minute of stoppage time then scored an offside goal in the second.

PL Sunday preview: Man Utd, Spurs begin title quests

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We’re 80 percent of the way through the opening weekend of the 2017-18 Premier League season, which means two games — featuring two of the six presumed title hopefuls — on the Sunday schedule…

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — A wild return for the top flight! ]

Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Tottenham haven’t spent a penny all summer (maybe you’ve heard), despite netting $65 million in exchange for Kyle Walker, but worst of all, Danny Rose went public with his own frustrations this week, leaving one to wonder if everyone in the dressing feels the same. Suffice to say, Mauricio Pochettino welcomes the “distraction” of real games to be played.

The last time Spurs visited St. James’ Park, Newcastle embarrassed Pochettino’s men, 5-1, on the final day of the 2015-16 season. The defeat saw Spurs fall from second in the league table, down to third, behind Arsenal. The Magpies had been relegated to the Championship weeks earlier, but manager Rafa Benitez stuck around for a season in England’s second division and brought the club back to the PL at the first time of asking.

INJURIES: Newcastle — OUT: DeAndre Yedlin (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Dwight Gayle (hamstring) | Tottenham — OUT: Danny Rose (knee), Erik Lamela (hip), Son Heung-min (arm); QUESTIONABLE: Kieran Tripper (ankle), Victor Wanyama (knee)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Manchester United vs. West Ham United — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

While far from the busiest of the PL’s six title hopefuls this summer, Man United’s transfer business was conducted on a must-be-addressed basis — star striker Romelu Lukaku, to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney; Nemanja Matic, to anchor the midfield and protect a shaky set of center backs; Victor Lindelof, to displace those shaky center backs — perhaps more so than any other side. Given the number of injuries Jose Mourinho was forced to navigate last season, spending just short of $190 million on reinforcements was the Red Devils’ only way back into genuine title contention.

As for West Ham, Slaven Bilic needs to deliver serious improvement on last season’s 11th-place finish — and a much faster start to the campaign — if he’s to complete his third full season in charge of the Hammers. While Marko Arnautovic goes down as the club-record signing ($26 million) from the summer, it’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez ($18 million) on whom all eyes will be focused on Sunday, as Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer returns to Old Trafford, to face the manager who many believe forced him out, for the first time since leaving the club for Bayer Leverkusen nearly two years ago.

“I can just say it’s luck,” Hernandez said when asked about his storybook return to life in the PL. “It was a great experience [there] … only happiness. I was living my dream and made that big step, which is not common. There is nothing negative about going there. It’s going to be my first game with my new club, against my old club in my old house. It’s only positive things – it’s an important moment for me.”

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Luke Shaw (foot), Marcos Rojo (knee), Ashley Young (hamstring), James Wilson (knee) | West Ham — OUT: Michail Antonio (hamstring), Sofiane Feghouli (hamstring), Andy Carroll (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Manuel Lanzini (knee), Marko Arnautovic (leg)

Premier League 2017-18 preview – Newcastle United

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Newcastle’s not your typical newly promoted side.

After bouncing straight back from relegation and returning to the Premier League, where they spent have spent every season except two since the league’s inauguration in 1992. Both times Newcastle were relegated, they won the Championship and came straight back up.

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This time, they have as experienced a manager as a newly promoted side can have along for the ride. Newcastle proved strong in their bid to keep Rafa Benitez after relegation, and he delivered on his promise to get them back to the top flight. Now, staying there will be another battle altogether.

Best, worst case scenarios – Best-case scenario is that Newcastle returns to its former pedigree as a perennial top-half finisher. That’s not out of the question at all, considering they have a strong side that pulverized the Championship at times. Newcastle can break down any defense, with attacking talent that could surprise the Premier League with its quality.

Worst-case, this team flops hard and battles relegation again. The Magpies’ biggest weakness is facing a team like them, that possesses the ball and storms forward. They lost twice to Fulham last season in Championship play, a team most comparable to Newcastle’s style at that level. Should teams look to replicate this strategy, Benitez would be powerless as he watches his team pinned back and unable to push forward. This team isn’t vastly changed from when they were relegated, and that could prove a major downfall.


Best possible XI is…

Elliott

Yedlin — Lascelles — Lejeune — Dummett

Shelvey — Diame

Ritchie — Perez — Murphy

Gayle


[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

Transfers In: Jacob Murphy (Norwich City, $13.3 million), Florian Lejeune (Eibar, $11.7 million), Christian Atsu ($9 million), Javier Manquillo (Atletico Madrid, $5.9 million), Mikel Merino (Borussia Dortmund, Loan).

Transfers Out: Florian Thauvin (Marseille, $12.9 million), Daryl Murphy (Nottingham Forest, $2.7 million), Sammy Ameobi (Bolton, Free), Vurnon Anita (Leeds United, Free), Haris Vuckic (FC Twente, Free), Yoan Gouffran (Goztepe, Free).

Last season:

— 1st Place finish in Championship (Automatic promotion)
— FA Cup 4th Round (Lost to Oxford United)
— League Cup quarterfinals (Lost to Hull City)

Star player: Ayoze Perez — If asked for most important player, I probably would have gone with one of the two central defenders, who anchor this club. Florian Lejeune is a quality addition and will strengthen this defense considerably. However, it’s “star” player and that is without a doubt playmaker Ayoze Perez. The 22-year-old Spaniard can both create and score, and he racked up 12 goals and 7 assists last season in the Championship despite playing 1,400 less minutes than leading creators Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey. Perez will be a critical part of this Newcastle squad, and he’ll need to blossom this time around after misfiring in his first go at the Premier League campaign the Magpies’ relegation season.

Coaches’ Corner: Rafa Benitez is as experienced as they come for newly promoted sides. He is the only manager in history to have won the Champions League, Europa League, Club World Cup, and Super Cup titles, and he has Newcastle in good hands. While he fell from grace at Napoli and Real Madrid, taking charge of Newcastle is a completely different animal, and he passed the Championship meat grinder with flying colors. Back in the Premier League for a full season for the first time since 2010, Benitez has a quality squad to work with as Newcastle looks to continue its slow build back up.

PST predicts: This is a very deep team, which will be of utmost importance when the injuries inevitably hit. The attacking trio of Matt Ritchie, Ayoze Perez, and new signing Jacob Murphy have plenty of support in Christian Atsu, Siem De Jong, Henri Saivet (should he stay). In addition, the midfield is strengthened by Borussia Dortmund loanee Mikel Marino and Jack Colback. The quality in depth coupled with Rafa Benitez’s guiding means this squad should be comfortably in the Premier League, with a safe bottom-half finish. The only slip could be if the players who failed to keep the club afloat last time perform below standards a second time.

PL roundup: Liverpool falls to Atleti; Newcastle, Bournemouth roll

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Of the five Premier League clubs in preseason action Wednesday, only one was at home.

And Southampton did not have a good day.

[ MORE: Neymar money by the numbers ]

Liverpool fells in the Audi Cup Final on penalties, while Newcastle and Bournemouth cruised on the road and Manchester United won late at Sampdoria.

Wolfsburg 1-3 Newcastle United

Rafa Benitez‘s Magpies looked good in beating Bundesliga opposition on the road behind goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic, Matt Ritchie, and Christian Atsu, three decent parts of the club’s Football League Championship title.

Liverpool 1-1 (4-5 pens) Atletico Madrid

Roberto Firmino‘s late penalty gave the Reds a chance to win the Audi Cup, but Jordan Henderson was the only taker of 10 to miss a PK as Atleti claimed the honors.

Sampdoria 1-2 Manchester United

Nemanja Matic made his Red Devils debut in the first half, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan used that period to give United a lead it would give back. But Juan Mata snared an 81st minute winner ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid.

Yeovil Town 1-3 Bournemouth

A Benik Afobe double joined a Lys Mousset goal as the Cherries tuned prepared for their final preseason match — a visit from mighty Napoli — with an easy enough road win.

Southampton 0-4 Augsburg

Yes, 4-0. Yes, at home. Yes, Saints are quickly moving on from that to a visit from Sevilla on Saturday.