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Thursday, April 18

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Benitez urges Newcastle to focus on themselves rather than Premier League table

PA | 2mo
The Magpies slipped back to the brink of the relegation zone on Saturday evening.

Rafael Benitez has told Newcastle to ignore the Premier League table as they prepare for Monday night's tough trip to in-form Wolves.

The Magpies headed into the weekend sitting in 15th place in the table and two points clear of the drop zone after back-to-back league victories over Cardiff and Manchester City before last weekend's narrow defeat at Tottenham.

However, that had changed significantly by Saturday evening after wins for Cardiff and Burnley saw them drop two places and remain clear of trouble by virtue only of goal difference, although Benitez had already urged his players to concentrate only on what they could affect.

Asked about the difficulties of playing on a Monday evening, he said: "When you have this situation for a while and you know it will be like that, you have to wait.

"You cannot change anything. The only thing you can do is be sure you prepare for your game properly, and that's it.

"Your players can't affect what happens on the other pitches, so you just have to stay concentrated on your game.

"Sometimes it's positive, sometimes it's negative and because you can't change anything, it's better that you don't focus on that.

"You have to say, 'Okay, what do I have to do? Perform with my team', and that's it."

Newcastle are certain to be backed by a large and vociferous travelling support in the midlands despite the game being moved for television coverage.

The club's travelling fans have grown increasingly frustrated at the allocation of Monday night games, with the Magpies not having had one in the Premier League at St James' Park since December 2012.

Their mood had not been improved by a run of 10 successive defeats on the road until Benitez's men won 2-1 at Burnley on November 26, and the Spaniard has a great deal of sympathy for them.

He said: "Normally our fans travel more than anyone and the timing also has been really bad. I don't know if it's just coincidence, but it's a pity for our fans because when you have so many following the team, you have to consider also these things.

"But it's something that doesn't depend on us."

The travelling fans could receive a boost this time around with record signing Miguel Almiron in line to make his debut at Wolves.

Benitez was coy when asked about his team selection with Paul Dummett, Mohamed Diame, Ki Sung-yueng and Joselu all available after injury and Yoshinori Muto following his return from the Asian Cup, but Almiron is likely to make the matchday 18.



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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool34267177205785
2Manchester CityMan City33272486226483
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs332211064343067
4Arsenal33206766402666
5Chelsea34206857362166
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd33197763441964
7Leicester CityLeicester34145154645147
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves33138124142-147
9Everton34137144644246
10Watford33137134748-146
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham34126164252-1042
12Bournemouth34125174961-1241
13Crystal Palace34116174046-639
14Burnley34116174260-1839
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle34108163243-1138
16Southampton3399153954-1536
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3396183253-2133
18Cardiff CityCardiff3494213063-3331
RFulham3455243276-4420
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3435261967-4814
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