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Benítez urges Magpies to remain 'competitive'

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Rafa Benítez is hopeful his Newcastle United side can remain competitive throughout when they travel to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

During their eight-game winless run, the Magpies have taken the lead against both Chelsea and Manchester United away from home, only to be beaten comfortably after 90 minutes.

Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Everton was their third on the spin, with Benítez’s charges now only a point above the bottom three ahead of back-to-back trips to the capital.

However, the Spaniard feels United have shown flashes of promise in many of their recent outings, and spoke of the need for a more complete performance against Arsène Wenger’s Gunners.

“For us, every game is a challenge and an opportunity to get three points. Obviously, on paper, some games are more difficult than others, but it doesn’t change anything for us,” he said. “We were doing really well against Manchester United for 30 minutes and we were doing well against Chelsea, at the beginning, for 15 minutes, and you never know – as I have said before – if you get a couple of chances and then you score goals, and they need to win and they will have a little bit of anxiety, then maybe they will make more mistakes.

“The main thing for me is to try and keep a team competitive. The other day, I think we saw in the first half that we can beat teams if we do well, and we have to carry on with this message.”

The Magpies have squandered 11 points from winning positions this term, and should they get their noses in front again on Saturday, Benítez is keen for his side to learn from their mistakes of late.

“I think the main thing is to analyse what has gone on and then try to find solutions. If you see the last two games, Leicester are a good team – they showed the other day what they can do when they play away. The way that we concede – an own goal, with five minutes to go – is always disappointing, but the next game, we made a mistake against a team we were controlling, and we had chances and we were doing well,” he said.

“We lost with one mistake and we couldn’t manage in the second half because they have experience, and both games, they were wasting time and they were managing the game in a way that we have to learn if we want to get results. These two games, you have to be disappointed because you are so close. When you are doing things right, it is a pity. What is the way to move forward? Obviously, start winning. It is easy to say but more difficult to do it, but it’s just to stay calm, keep going in the way that we are going in the games we are doing well, and try to avoid the mistakes we are making.”

"The main thing for me is to try and keep a team competitive. The other day, I think we saw in the first half that we can beat teams if we do well, and we have to carry on with this message."

Rafa Benítez

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