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FA Cup replay preview: Newcastle travels to Blackburn

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Mired in the midst of a relegation fight, the last thing Rafa Benitez needed was an FA Cup replay.

However, that’s exactly what he and Newcastle have received. Newcastle travels to Blackburn to play a replay match after a 1-1- draw at St. Janes Park

Benitez said before hand he was already planning on rotating his squad, either allowing youngsters to get valuable minutes or focusing his priorities in Cardiff City at the weekend, a massive relegation zone battle.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

A win over Cardiff City would go a long way towards ensuring survival, which at this point is Benitez’s focus. In other words, expect Blackburn to have a decent chance at home against Premier League opposition.

Elsewhere, League One’s Luton Town hosts Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday, and Stoke City hosts League One’s Shrewsbury Town in the rest of the FA Cup replay action.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. Newcastle

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  • Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) is unavailable but Alvaro Morata (hamstring) is expected to be fit to face Newcastle.
  • Chelsea have only lost one of its 23 Premier League home matches against Newcastle
  • Salomon Rondon has scored Newcastle’s last three away goals in the Premier League.

The last in a full day of matches comes Saturday afternoon as Chelsea hosts former coach Rafa Benitez and Newcastle (12:30 p.m. ET live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com).

The Blues are coming off a surprise scoreless draw with Southampton while Newcastle are winless in their last four. The winds are swirling at Chelsea as Cesc Fabregas departed and Callum Hudson-Odoi is a big transfer target of Bayern Munich, though Chelsea has so far refused to accept any bids for the talented 18-year-old.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Alvaro Morata could be fit to play, but one wonders if Maurizio Sarri will go with Eden Hazard in the false nine role again. At the same time, Newcastle has plenty of injuries to deal with, and three players just coming back off the sidelines. It will be a big loss to replace Jonjo Shelvey and Yoshinori Muto.


What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on his team’s scoring problems: “We need to score. We need to solve this problem. In the last match we played very well, with continuity and with a very good offensive and defensive phase, and with a great performance from a physical point of view – the best of the season – but we didn’t score. We have to work and try to solve it as soon as possible.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on focusing his team against Chelsea: ”We have to realize where we are and we have to realize the only way forward is to stay united. We can’t waste too much energy. The idea last year when we were back in the Premier League was to be united. You have to realize that this is a big city and massive club.”


Prediction

Chelsea may be struggling to score goals, but Newcastle are in a relegation fight. Even without much of a striker, Chelsea should still have enough talent and firepower up top to win. Plus, with so many players out injured for Newcastle, the challenge grows even more for the visitors. Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle

Report: Former Man United, Chelsea CEO Kenyon involved in Newcastle takeover

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A well-known name and face in the Premier League is reportedly part of the group negotiating to take ownership of Newcastle United.

According to the BBC, former Chelsea and Manchester United CEO Peter Kenyon is leading the takeover talks for American financial firm Rockefeller Capital Management. Earlier this week, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley told Sky Sports that a sale could be completed before the new year, though the BBC states that is optimistic.

It is great news for long-suffering Newcastle supporters to hear that Ashley is close to selling the club, but we’ve been here before. Ashley nearly sold the club to Amanda Stavely before the deal fell through in 2017.

Newcastle fans instead will have to stay on-edge, waiting to see if this deal goes through. If the new owners are willing to spend, Newcastle fans could see their team lifted back into the top ten, with the impressive support behind the team every week.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle vs. Tottenham

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  • This will be the fourth time these sides have met on the opening weekend, more than any other Premier League fixture.
  • Harry Kane has never scored a PL goal in August, despite playing 13 matches, 898 minutes and having 44 shots.
  • Spurs are playing their first match of the season away from home for the eighth consecutive campaign. Only Burnley have had a longer sequence in English top-flight history, with nine matches between 1888/89 and 1896/97.

Mauricio Pochettino begins his fifth season in charge of Tottenham with a trip up the country to visit Rafa Benitez and Newcastle early on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Pochettino broke a record this summer, making exactly zero signings in the transfer window, though he was also able to sign star Harry Kane to a new contract and keep he, Dele Alli, and even Toby Alderweireld at the club, despite plenty of foreign interest. All nine players involved in the World Cup semifinals are back in training, and a couple may even make the gameday squad.

Benitez meanwhile has called for a period of “calm” and has suspended contract talks with owner Mike Ashley after a tumultuous summer. Newcastle made seven signings, including Kenedy from Chelsea on loan and Solomon Rondon from West Brom, in addition to permanent signings such as Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez, but the club amazingly let 22 players leave, including Aleksandar Mitrovic for a transfer fee of $25.5 million to Fulham.

With so many players just getting back to fitness following World Cup duty, Newcastle could have the advantage over Tottenham in this season-opening matchup.

(more…)

Will increased spending by promoted clubs turn Premier League upside down?

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Fulham, Wolverhampton, and Cardiff City have spent a combined $180 million this summer.

Manchester United, Manchester City, and Tottenham have spent a combined $185 million this summer.

The gap is closing. The influx of money from top to bottom across the Premier League table is having an effect, and lower-table teams are able to join the whirlwind at an unprecedented level. The three newly promoted teams in the Premier League have spent this summer at previously unimaginable levels.

So will this have an effect on the bottom of the table? Absolutely, positively it will.

Overhauling a squad following a successful season is always a major risk, but teams are more and more willing to take on that risk when it comes to ensuring Premier League safety, and ensuring the yearly checks continue to flow. Fulham alone has spent $89.5 million this summer, and could end up changing a whopping six members of their EFL Playoff Final starting lineup.

[ PREVIEWS: Fulham | Cardiff City | Huddersfield ]

But money isn’t good money unless it’s smart money, and these teams are closing the gap there too. Fulham pulled off a coup when they nabbed passing wizard Jean-Michael Seri from OGC Nice, a player coveted by Champions League teams in England, Italy, and Germany. They paid a pretty penny too, costing them $34.7 million, a Fulham transfer record. Wolves looks to have pulled off a steal by snagging 21-year-old Diogo Jota from Atletico Madrid, with the $16 million looking well worth the damage after leading the team with 18 goals last season in the Championship. They’re set to add to that total with the impending capture of Adama Traore for a reported $23 million, breaking Wolves’ transfer record as well. Cardiff bolstered its mediocre attack by spending $26 million on a pair of English wingers in their prime.

Both Fulham and Wolves also kept their top talent, no easy feat with sharks in the waters. Ryan Sessegnon stayed on at Craven Cottage despite becoming the first lower-division player to be nominated for PFA Young Player of the Year, and 21-year-old Ruben Neves signed a new six-year contract at Wolves this summer after carving the Championship to pieces last campaign. Both players had bigger clubs circling, waiting to strike.

Even smaller clubs in the Premier League not yet considered established are ponying up the cash. Brighton has shelled out $60 million this summer, $53 million of which came on three players. Huddersfield Town, a club that had never sniffed the top division in English soccer before promotion last year, has found $53 million to spend.

[ PREVIEW: Burnley | Newcastle ]

With the new standard being wildly shifted, where does that leave clubs like Burnley, Newcastle, and Watford, who have barely spent a dime? Each of these requires a different answer at the more microscopic level, but it all boils down to one result – they will be left behind. With smaller clubs able to splash the cash, the margin for error is getting thinner by the year. It’s harder and harder to find three teams worse than [insert financially strapped club here]. Burnley, for example, has a Europa League campaign to navigate plus a follow-up to their 7th place finish last season, but they have purchased just one player this summer, with manager Sean Dyche vocally protesting increasing player prices.

What about Tottenham, an established upper-tier club that literally hasn’t spent a dime this window? Will they be punished for not improving this summer at all?

That’s more complicated of an answer. The short version is no. Spurs has such a deep team with so few true holes, they can afford to take a summer off. If it becomes a more long-term strategy? Sure, they’ll fall back. But we all know that’s not the case.

Yet for the clubs in peril every waking moment of their Premier League existence, the writing is on the wall is clear: spend or wilt. The newly promoted clubs know long-term investments require short-term movement, and the time is now to keep up with the boat, or sink into the perilous waters below.