Newcastle United hire Rafael Benitez as new manager

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Rafael Benitez has been appointed as Newcastle United’s new manager.

On the same day Newcastle announced the firing of Steve McClaren, the Magpies acted swiftly to name his replacement with the Spanish coach arriving at St James’ Park on a three-year contract.

[ MORE: Why would Rafa join Magpies? ]

Apparently Benitez, 55, does have a break clause in the contract which would allow him to leave at the end of this season should Newcastle be relegated from the Premier League.

Benitez will take charge of Newcastle’s final 10 games of the 2015-16 season and has a lot of work to do to save them from the drop.

[ MORE: Latest PL standings

Newcastle currently sits in 19th spot in the table, just one point off safety as they battle with bitter North East rivals Sunderland and struggling Norwich City to stay out of the drop zone.

In a statement released on the club website, Newcastle called Benitez “one of Europe’s top managers” and also announced that his extensive backroom team would join him, replacing McClaren’s staff immediately.

“I have the pleasure to confirm I have committed to a legendary English club, with the massive challenge of remaining part of the Premier League,” Benitez said. “It will be a challenge not just for me and my staff but for the players, the Club and the fans. All of us must push together in the same direction and with the same target in mind. This is the reason why I’m going to ask for your total support to successfully complete this task.

“Personally, it means my return to the Premier League, closer to my home and my family. I can’t be happier. C’mon Toon Army! The club and I need your total involvement!”

One of the biggest factors in the release was that he was named as the new “manager” and not “head coach” as a huge reshuffle in how the club is run is expected.

The Spanish coach returns to the Premier League for the third time, as he previously managed Liverpool for six years — leading the Reds to the UEFA Champions League title — and had a short stint in charge as Chelsea were he won the UEFA Europa League. He also won the La Liga title twice and the Europa League with Valencia in the past, and has managed some huge clubs.

[ MORE: Mourinho says he will start new job in July ]

Most recently he was fired by Real Madrid in January but his vast experience in England, Italy and Spain will be valuable in Newcastle’s battle against relegation.

This hire is a massive coup for the Magpies and if Benitez can keep them up this season, he will be given the chance to overhaul the squad as he tries to bring back the glory days.

First up for the former Benitez is a trip to league leaders Leicester City on Monday (Watch live, 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra), while a crucial Tyne-Wear derby hovers on the horizon on Mar. 20.

UEFA Champions League qualifying: How to watch, start times, odds

Champions League playoffs
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American defender Henry Wingo and manager Jesse Marsch face big weeks as the second legs of the UEFA Champions League qualifying playoffs take center stage Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wingo’s Molde drew Ferencvaros 3-3 in the first leg but those three away goals loom large as the American and his Norwegian club head to Hungary.

[ MORE: Champions League qualifying scores ]

Meanwhile, Marsch saw his Red Bull Salzburg come back from an early deficit in Israel to take a 2-1 advantage over Maccabi Tel-Aviv back to Austria.

Salzburg are very heavy favorites to win and advance to the Champions League group stage for another year.

Marsch has also been linked with an impending transfer for USMNT teen Brenden Aaronson, one of at least eight Americans to watch as the European transfer window reaches its conclusion next month.


How to watch the UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff round

Kickoff: 3 pm ET Tuesday and Wednesday
Stream: CBS All-Access (subscription required)


UEFA Champions League playoff round matches

All 12 legs will kickoff at 3 pm ET between Tuesday and Sept. 30.

First legs (Roundup)

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg
Slavia Prague 0-0 Midtjylland
Krasnodar 2-1 PAOK
Gent 1-2 Dynamo Kiev
Molde 3-3 Ferencvaros
Olympiakos 2-0 Omonia

Tuesday

Ferencvaros 0-0 Molde (Ferencvaros win on away goals)
Dynamo Kiev 3-0 Gent (5-1 on aggregate)
Omonia 0-0 Olympiakos (0-2 on aggregate)

Wednesday

Midtjylland v Slavia Prague
PAOK v Krasnodar
Red Bull Salzburg v Maccabi Tel-Aviv


UCL second leg odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Ferencvaros (+108) v Molde (+215) | Draw (+230)
Dynamo Kiev (-118) v Gent (+280) | Draw (+235)
Omonia (+325) v Olympiakos (-130) | Draw (+235)
Midtjylland (+170) v Slavia Prague (+155) | Draw (+195)
PAOK (+105) v Krasnodar (+220) | Draw (+235)
Red Bull Salzburg (-834) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv (+1300) | Draw (+600)

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links

VIDEO: ProSoccerTalk team unfiltered – Review, preview, Power Rankings and more

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ProSoccerTalk is now on video as well as in written format. Unleash the beast, as they say.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Each week ProSoccerTalk writers Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola and Andy Edwards will tell us what they learned from the Premier League action, rank their top five PL players based on current form, preview the upcoming weekend and handle any other news from around the soccer world.

Expect opinions, analysis and insight, as well as plenty of friendly banter along the way and maybe a beer or two…

Basically, they have these chats on their own anyway so we thought we would record them and let them loose on the Premier League, USMNT and everything in-between. This is going to be a lot of fun and a lighthearted look at all of the action from across the soccer world each week.

With JPW is based in England and heading to Premier League games and traveling to stadiums/ training grounds, plus Andy and Nick based Stateside, we will be checking in with them regularly to get their views on just about anything when it comes to Pro Soccer. Because, well, ProSoccerTalk.

Follow the ProSoccerTalk lads on Twitter below, and click play on the video above to watch ProSocccerTalk this week in full.

League Cup: How to watch, start times, odds, predictions

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The League Cup’s fourth round features two interesting tactical duels in that the tournament gives us rematches of a pair of Premier League matches from the weekend, right down to the locations.

Brighton will hope Manchester United’s Wednesday trip to the Amex Stadium isn’t as lucky as the Red Devils’ 3-2 triumph over the Seagulls, while Arsenal heads back to Anfield on Thursday with designs on a measure of revenge for Monday’s 3-1 loss in league play.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

While Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United are built a bit deeper — easy, Red Devils fans — due to squad necessity for European competition, Graham Potter’s Seagulls don’t have it as simple as chopping and changing (though Brighton has looked plenty good with its depth so far in this tournament.

How will the tactician plot his overthrow of United? And will Mikel Arteta do anything different with Arsenal to help thwart the high line Liverpool used to limit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Monday (if the Gabonese star even plays)?

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 things from Liverpool-Arsenal ]

Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho saw Spurs on beat Chelsea on penalties on Tuesday.

Three lower league remain and will be playing their fourth League Cup matches of the month compared to the PL’s three outings. Those who win this week will have a lot longer to wait for the quarterfinals, which won’t be held until December.


League Cup fourth round kickoff times and odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Tottenham (+420) v Chelsea (-180) | Draw (+360) — 2:45 pm ET Tuesday
Newport County (+560) v Newcastle (-230)  | Draw (+340)— 12:30 pm ET Weds
Burnley (+625) v Manchester City (-275) | Draw (+375) — 2 pm ET Weds
Brighton (+300) v Manchester United (-120) | Draw (+250)— 2:45 pm ET Weds
Everton (-145) v West Ham (+350) | Draw (+280)— 2:45 pm ET Weds
Brentford (+135) v Fulham (+185) | Draw (+225)— 12:30 pm ET Thursday
Aston Villa (-150) v Stoke City (+360) | Draw (+275)— 2 pm ET Thursday
Liverpool (-105) v Arsenal (+230) | Draw (+270)— 2:45 pm ET Thursday

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


League Cup fourth round predictions

Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Chelsea
Newport County 1-3 Newcastle United
Burnley 0-3 Manchester City
Brighton 2-1 Manchester United
Everton 2-2 (EFC wins in penalties) West Ham United
Brentford 1-1 (Brentford wins in penalties) Fulham
Aston Villa 2-0 Stoke City
Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal


How to watch League Cup fourth round streams and start time

Kickoff: Tuesday through Thursday
Online: Select games on ESPN+
Updates: Follow League Cup scores via NBCSports.com

Premier League player Power Rankings

Player Power Rankings
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Premier League player Power Rankings are here!

Our third player Power Rankings of the 2020-21 season have arrived, as all 20 teams have played and we are coming off yet another high-scoring matchweek in Premier League history with 36 goals scored across the 10 games.

Simply put: once again it was incredibly tough to put 20 players in this list based on the crazy results across the Premier League.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Stars from Liverpool, Leicester City and Everton dominate our third player Power Rankings and there are plenty of new signings who have impressed early in the season.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t going to be in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the player Power Rankings.


1. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Even
2. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – New entry
3. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) – New entry
4. James Rodriguez (Everton) – Down 2
5. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) – New entry
6. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – New entry
7. Allan (Everton) – New entry
8. Harry Kane (Tottenham) – Down 4
9. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) – Up 6
10. Fabinho (Liverpool) – Down 4
11. Tariq Lamptey (Brighton) – Down 4
12. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Up 1
13. Patrick Bamford (Leeds) – Up 3
14. Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) – New entry
15. Timothy Castagne (Leicester) – Up 2
16. Jack Harrison (Leeds) – New entry
17. Danny Ings (Southampton) – New entry
18. Jarrod Bowen (West Ham) – New entry
19. Andy Robertson (Liverpool) – Even
20. Illan Meslier (Leeds) – New entry