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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.

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“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.”

League Cup wrap: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Premier League fixtures: Top 10 must-see games

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The start of a new Premier League season is less than two months away and with it brings some mouth-watering matchups.

As Chelsea look to defend the title, Tottenham, Manchester United, Manchester City Liverpool and Arsenal are all looking to unseat the Blues at the Premier League throne.

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A simple caveat; With so many transfers into and out of the Premier League still to take place, it’s tough to know exactly how strong certain teams will look come the end of the transfer window. But here’s our best shot at it.

Here’s a look at ten (or more) must-see matchups of the 2017-2018 Premier League season.