After the game yesterday against Verona Rafa seemed happy enough with the performance of the team, and certainly, they looked well organized and compact – like a Rafa Benitez team in fact.
So from what we could tell from yesterday, every player knows what they have to do and we seem well set for a tough first game in the Premier League against Tottenham next Sunday.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating of course, and we’ll see how the lads perform against one of the top clubs in the Premier League.
Great shot of a smiling Rafa Benitez in training last season
Tottenham Hotspur is a rising force again in English football, and they finished second top of the Premier League last term after finishing 3rd top the season before.
That was after we beat them 5-1 at home in May of last year in our last game in the PL and knocked them into 3rd place in the league table and allowed their north London rivals Arsenal to finish above them in second place.
Rafa was asked after the game about his team selection for the Tottenham game, and this is what Rafa said as reported in the Shields Gazette:
“In the last two games, the majority can be there.” “But we have time and I like the competition between players.”
“The main thing is that – like last season – we need competition in every department.” “Then players will realize you have to give everything.”
“It’s not the Championship anymore – it’s the Premier League.” “Everybody has to create problems for me.”
“If they work hard and train well, I have to decide who to pick.”
“It was an entertaining game for the fans,” “We scored two goals, had other chances and tried to do what we wanted to do.”
“We moved the ball quickly, regained it as soon as possible when giving it away and tried to have a high tempo.”
“There were a lot of positives. It’s our last friendly and had nothing to do with the Premier League, but we tried to do the things we wanted to do.”
Dwight Gayle didn’t play yesterday and wasn’t in the squad at all as he seems to be having some slight problems in training with his troublesome hamstring.
We hope he will be fit for the Tottenham game, but it shows just how weak we are in the striker position with only Aleksandar Mitrovic now fit enough to lead the line.
DeAndre Yedlin is also out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury, but the good news is that his replacement – new boy Javier Manquillo – looked good and set up the first goal yesterday for Newcastle.
We’ll know better next Sunday night just how well our team can do in the Premier League in the coming season.
But a win against Spurs would be simply terrific.
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