Newcastle add to Antonio Conte’s woes with easy win over listless Chelsea

Antonio Conte began the afternoon in highly animated form in the technical area and, for a while, became almost hysterical before his mood finally morphed into sulky acceptance. Long before the end Chelsea’s manager had become oddly static as he stood arms folded, expression disconsolate, on the touchline. Maybe they were saving themselves for the FA Cup final but Conte’s players never looked remotely like a side which kicked off harbouring outside hopes of a top-four place. Continue reading...

Newcastle United v Chelsea: match preview

The consensus suggests this will be Antonio Conte’s last Premier League game in charge of Chelsea. Can he use it to somehow secure a top-four finish? Newcastle fans must trust this is not Rafael Benítez’s Tyneside swansong. The negotiations between their widely coveted manager and Mike Ashley over extending a contract that has only a year to run remain delicate. Expect the Gallowgate End to, not for the first time, repeatedly sing “Rafa Benítez, we want you to stay.” Chelsea meanwhile are monitoring Newcastle’s much improved centre-half Jamaal Lascelles. He could be key to Benítez’s team ending a run of four straight defeats as they struggle to retain their grip on 10th place. Louise Taylor Sunday 3pm Sky Sports Premier League Continue reading...

Premier League: 10 things to look out for on the final day

A wake is in store in Swansea, Klopp faced with a juggling act and a swansong for Conte and Benítez? This feature, you will note, is called ‘10 Things to Look Out For’ rather than ‘10 Things to Look Forward To’. Thank goodness for that, because there might not be much to look forward to at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday. The match between Swansea and Stoke is likely to be a wake, with both clubs wondering how the hell they got into this mess. A number of players will be making their last appearance for both sides, seeing no contradiction in the belief that they are far too good to play in the Championship. Swansea could still stay up, but they need snookers, a miracle and, most unlikely of all, at least one goal. RS Continue reading...

Spurs can say goodbye to Wembley with Champions League mission accomplished | Amy Lawrence

Nerves had begun to fray in the past couple of matches but Tottenham squeezed over the line to make sure of a third European Cup campaign in a rowMauricio Pochettino stood on the edge of his technical area, arms folded, waiting, as the clock ticked down. Just get over the line, Tottenham. That had been the order of the night. Securing Champions League football, a precious housewarming present to take back to N17 for next season, was at the forefront of everybody’s mind. The outpouring of elation at the final whistle was all about that, all about a marker to help Tottenham in this period of seismic change for the club. Champions League qualification is always a boon, but it was especially appreciated when the news was confirmed at Wembley thanks to Chelsea hitting the brakes at Stamford Bridge because it feels like it’s about something bigger than Continue reading "Spurs can say goodbye to Wembley with Champions League mission accomplished | Amy Lawrence"

Harry Kane purges Spurs of Champions League nerves with win over Newcastle

It was a long way from being the most fluent performance of the Mauricio Pochettino era and there were times, particularly during a fraught first half, when the Tottenham support could imagine the worst case scenario – that their team would contrive to lose their grip on Champions League qualification. But the mood and the match turned sharply upon one swish of Harry Kane’s boot early in the second-half and, with Chelsea failing to beat Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge, it turned into a night of celebration. Continue reading...

DeAndre Yedlin: ‘Rafa Benítez is loved at Newcastle. We need to keep him’

Newcastle’s American defender talks fashion, Donald Trump and why the club’s widely cherished manager must be persuaded to stayDeAndre Yedlin is centre stage in a primary school gymnasium, helping to teach a group of suddenly rather self‑conscious children the art of trapping, volleying and heading a football. As they gradually shed their initial shyness in the face of the vividly dressed Newcastle United player leaning casually against the wallbars, Yedlin, too, relaxes. Yet if Rafael Benítez’s first-choice right-back is ideally qualified to help spearhead a charitable mission to promote physical activity among North Tyneside’s children, the 24-year-old United States international is most definitely not your stereotypical one-dimensional elite athlete. Continue reading...

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Aubameyang can revive Arsenal, Butland lays bare Stoke’s shameful truth and West Ham would be foolish to ditch Moyes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang might not be a classic Arsène Wenger signing because he cost a lot of money and is already close to his peak but at 28 he is certainly a man who can lead the next incarnation of Arsenal. Alongside Alexandre Lacazette the duo showed how exciting Arsenal can still be even if Burnley looked like a team packed for their summer holidays as they made up the numbers, offering less energy than the post-match speeches, in what was effectively a testimonial at the Emirates. Wenger might rue the fact he missed bringing the Gabonese international Aubameyang to England earlier – a striker not deemed good enough by Milan in his youth would have made the perfect project for the outgoing manager – but he is still leaving behind something Continue reading "Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action"

Watford v Newcastle United: match preview

Watford facing Newcastle is certainly not the most tantalising fixture of the weekend but there is still intrigue regarding the future of the respective managers. Javi Gracia has the potential to guide Watford to their best Premier League finish, as they sit level with their previous record in 13th, but their run of seven matches without a win will not have pleased the trigger-happy powers that be. Rafa Benítez has hinted, again, that he is prepared to move on if his masterful season is not rewarded with investment in the squad. Graham Searles Saturday 3pm Continue reading...

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

José Mourinho needs to make drastic changes, Rafael Benítez is getting best out of his players and Jordan Ayew is on a mission Having so meekly allowed Manchester City to claim the Premier League title, a process of rebuilding Manchester United into future champions starts now. The non-inclusion of Marouane Fellaini, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw in José Mourinho’s match‑day 18 for this game at Old Trafford indicated where a long-awaited clear-out of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal recruits is likely to begin. But it will take more than that to revitalise United. The shapeless sludge of this performance against West Brom was no anomaly. Chief among the reasons United have been left in City’s wake is Mourinho’s inability to get the best from his purported stars. Paul Pogba lasted less than an hour before being substituted, while Alexis Sánchez waits to reveal anything like the form Continue reading "Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action"

Arsène Wenger says Arsenal defeat at Newcastle ‘a worry character wise’

• Manager admits players were tired from Europa League exertions
• Newcastle’s Rafael Benítez hails ‘great achievement’ of staying up A resigned, almost brutally realistic, Arsène Wenger described Arsenal’s fifth successive away defeat in the Premier League as “the story of our season”. Related: Arsenal slump to another defeat as Matt Ritchie hits Newcastle winner Continue reading...

Rafael Benítez shows his class as Arsenal fail to learn their lesson | Jonathan Wilson

Arsène Wenger’s lively forwards were undermined by shoddy defending on a day when Newcastle all but secured safetyThe quest for meaning, the need to form the unbearably random constituents of our existence into some kind of order, to create a narrative or a value-system, to believe it all somehow matters – it seems integral to humanity. But sometimes a late-season game between two sides with nothing much to play for is just a late-season game between two sides with nothing much to play for. And yet, of course, that very meaninglessness is itself meaningful, a sign both of Rafael Benítez’s success and Arsène Wenger’s failure this season. When the sides met in December, there were 14 places between them, less because Arsenal were threatening to challenge at the top than because Newcastle were in grave danger of relegation. Little has changed for Arsenal but Newcastle are all but Continue reading "Rafael Benítez shows his class as Arsenal fail to learn their lesson | Jonathan Wilson"

Arsenal slump to another defeat as Ritchie hits Newcastle winner

As Rafael Benítez strode on to the pitch and earned a richly deserved standing ovation, yet another Arsenal inquest was about to begin. At the end of an afternoon when, courtesy of a fourth straight win, Benítez’s Newcastle United emphatically banished any lingering relegation fears and the debate about Jonjo Shelvey’s England candidature was re-opened, Arsène Wenger once again reached for his metaphorical tin helmet. Continue reading...