Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

Rafa Benitez reveals his blueprint for Premier League survival at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez reveals his blueprint for Premier League survival at Newcastle

There is plenty of pressure on Pellegrino and his troops to deliver but the Argentine boss is confident that his men are up to the task.

Benitez faced criticism for his tactics at Liverpool last weekend but the Spaniard deserves the credit for Newcastle's well-crafted victory here.

Southampton have lost just two of their last 10 meetings with Newcastle, although they both came at St James' Park. Newcastle registered only seven shots on target and held just 36 per cent of possession, but they took their chances when they came against an insipid Southampton side.

Benitez's side beat Southampton 3-0 on Saturday to climb up to 13th place in the Premier League.

For better or for the worse, most teams have some sort of identity to them but if Southampton do, I'm not sure what it is.

Offering pace and enthusiasm, the wide attacker still looks a little rough around the edges but could well provide the spark that has been notable by its absence in Southampton's performances this season. Should the board stick or twist?

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Players such as Kenedy can make a difference and Newcastle need to add star quality, with the Brazilian being a flawless place to start.

Shelvey, who played despite not being fully fit, received a standing ovation when he was substituted in the closing stages and said Newcastle needed to show more consistency in the home straight of what has been a patchy season. Kenedy with the goal!

Maybe a flawless litmus test of the health of Newcastle United will come by September (2018), with the whereabouts of Kenedy. He takes a heavy touch though and McCarthy is off his line quickly to smother.

With players such as Ritchie, Atsu, Kenedy and Murphy all capable of running with the ball at the opposition, providing a free-role for one of these attackers could be a way to break through what is expected to be a stubborn Saints defence. He carries the ball forward from his own half, before playing a beautiful-weighted pass to Gayle. Watch Newcastle vs. Southampton to find out. Shelvey collected the ball in space on the edge of the area and twice shaped to shoot before laying the ball off for the Scotland worldwide to find the bottom-left corner with an expertly placed strike. Shelvey is the architect once more.

"It is hard to talk to the fans and say we are getting better because since January the team lift performances but now we need results".

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