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Watch Live: Newcastle vs. Manchester City

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Manchester City can move 15-points clear of second-place Manchester United when Man City visits Newcastle at St. James Park on Wednesday. Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

U.S. Men’s National Team right back DeAndre Yedlin starts at right wing back for Newcastle while Rolando Aarons makes his first start of the season for the hosts. On the other side, Sergio Aguero is joined up top with Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling, with Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne behind in a central-midfield trio.

Enjoy the game!

LINEUPS

Newcastle: Elliot; Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett; Yedlin, Shelvey, Diame, Manquillo; Murphy, Aarons; Joselu

Manchester City: Ederson; Danilo, Otamendi, Kompany, Walker; Gundogan, Fernandinho, de Bruyne; Sterling, Aguero, Silva

Premier League preview: Newcastle vs. Leicester City

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  • Newcastle United welcome back Jamaal Lascelles and Christian Atsu and has a clean bill of health.
  • Leicester City has no new injury concerns with Matty James (Achilles) and Robert Huth (ankle) the only absentees.
  • Newcastle United have lost only two of their last 17 home league meetings with Leicester City, although the Foxes won on their last visit to St James’ Park in November 2015.
  • Jamie Vardy is one away from becoming the first Leicester City player to hit 50 Premier League goals.
  • Shinji Okazaki scored in both fixtures the last time these sides met in 2015/16, making Newcastle the only team he’s scored in more than one match against in the Premier League.

Newcastle has lost five of its last six games, but they return home to try and turn things around with Leicester City coming to St. James Park on Saturday evening. (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Rafa Benitez has plenty of big-game experience – usually in UEFA Champions League matches – but now his Newcastle side is in a relegation battle and needs a big performance to create some space between the side and the drop zone.

Leicester City meanwhile has won two games on the bounce and has lost just one game in its last nine fixtures, showing good form with Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Damarei Gray showing their talent on a week-by-week basis.

What they’re saying

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on his team’s recent results: “We have to improve as a team to be sure we can compete against some of the top sides. The teams at the top at the moment, we are a little bit far away, but still we could do something against Liverpool, for example. I think it is important that the next two games at home, if we can compete, we can win. If we cannot compete – like happened in the second half against Manchester United or Chelsea – we cannot win. As I have said before, we have to maximize what we have, and what we have is fantastic fans behind the team, at home and away. So, they have to show again that they support the team because these are the players we have.”

Leicester City manager Claude Puel on his side’s performance since joining the club: “I don’t know if I expected this but the most important thing is to continue this work and to keep building momentum and confidence. It is important to get results for confidence and to try and improve all the time. Time will tell. For me it is about keeping a good focus and concentration on the next game and to try and play a strong game.”

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Prediction: Newcastle will come out with plenty of energy and spirit, but defensive frailties, even with the return of Jamal Lascelles will cause them to lose as the quality of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez take over. Leicester City 2-1 Newcastle

Benitez points to Liverpool defense as deficient

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Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has likened the Liverpool defense as a necessary deficiency with their prolific attack.

Benitez says that the Magpies will need to keep up with Liverpool when they host the Reds at St. James Park on Saturday. The Spaniard pointed to the Reds defense that has conceded 11 league goals this season, two off the league-worst number.

[ PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Manchester City ]

“The reality is that because they are so offensive, they have sometimes problems in defense,” Benitez said in his pre-match press conference. “I have talked in the past about the short blanket – if you cover your head, your feet are cold; if you cover your feet, your head is cold. Sometimes when you attack too much, you are exposed in defense and to find the balance is the key to have chances to win titles. I think they are working on that and still I think they will be very dangerous attacking even if they make some mistakes in defense.”

Despite conceding 11 goals in six Premier League matches, the Reds do have a pair of clean sheets, coming back-to-back against Crystal Palace and Arsenal. The defense has struggled at times, but the number is inflated by the 5-0 debacle against Manchester City in early September.

On the other end, Liverpool has scored 12 goals this season, with nine more in four Champions League matches.

Benitez did address his previous time at Liverpool, saying it’s not a distraction as he takes on his former club.

“I have a lot of positive relationships with the fans, so I have very good memories and it will be very emotional. But at the same time, we’ll try our best and we will try to win.”

Report: Rafa Benitez open to leaving Newcastle

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Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez could be on his way out of the club just three weeks into the start of the Premier League season.

According to a report in The Guardian, Benitez’s relationship with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has soured to the point that he’s open to taking other similar-sized jobs in the Premier League, or perhaps even abroad.

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The report states that Benitez would be open to taking the West Ham job should Slaven Bilic lose his position in the coming weeks.

Following Newcastle’s Championship winning season, owner Ashley reportedly promised Benitez he’d be able to spend freely in the transfer market. However, the club were only able to bring in seven players while releasing 12 others. The club also failed to sign any new reinforcements on deadline day.

Through three weeks, Newcastle is currently in 14th place in the Premier League, with one win and two losses.

Rafa Benitez slams Newcastle for little support

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Rafa Benitez surprised many when the former Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Napoli manager took the Toon job despite the serious possibility of relegation to the Championship. Even more were surprised when he agreed to stay on and build Newcastle back to the Premier League.

Now that the Magpies are back, the Spaniard has expected further support from owner Mike Ashley and the rest of the club executives, but so far that has not arrived, and it’s left the manager annoyed enough to speak publicly about his frustrations.

“We won the Championship and made a £30m profit,” Benitez said in his pre-match press conference ahead of Newcastle’s match against West Ham on Saturday. “I had a meeting with Mike and was expecting we could be in a better position than we are now. We are not. We will see if we can improve as much as we can this week. I will try to do my job.”

Those are ominous words from a manager who took a major step down from his previous positions when he accepted the job at Newcastle, and therefore expects big promises in return. The club has spent nearly $50 million this summer, but they have yet to bring in a player that has made a significant impact, and the club has lost its opening two matches in Premier League play.

Benitez seemed to give Newcastle management a soft ultimatum. “Normally, managers talk about projects saying they need four or five years. I’m not talking about that because you never know in football. When we came here, we knew there were some issues and we had to improve things. I am sure we have done that but we need to improve more.”

“My aim is to improve things so when I leave, whenever it is, I would like to be sure that the team and the club will be better.”