Sport Soccer

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Leicester v Newcastle talking points

Rafael Benitez begins his Newcastle reign at Leicester on Monday
Rafael Benitez begins his Newcastle reign at Leicester on Monday

Rafael Benitez will return to the Barclays Premier League fray when he sends his Newcastle side out for the first time against leaders Leicester on Monday evening.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some of the talking points surrounding a game which could have a significant impact at both ends of the table.

BENITEZ'S TYNESIDE RAFA-LUTION

Benitez wore a broad smile as he was introduced to the media at St James' Park on Saturday afternoon, but he arrived knowing he faces a major challenge if he is to drag the club out of a parlous situation with just 10 games of the season remaining. The Magpies looked devoid of confidence, organisation and ideas in the death throes of Steve McClaren's reign, and the Toon Army will be looking intently for reasons to believe at the King Power Stadium.

FRENCH FOREIGN LEGION

Newcastle chief scout Graham Carr is renowned for his knowledge of French football and the Magpies have plundered that country's transfer market in recent seasons with varying degrees of success. However, he will hope the club does not rue one who slipped through the net with the £400,000 Leicester paid Le Havre for Riyad Mahrez in January 2014 currently looking like the bargain of the decade.

AND THEN THERE WERE...?

With Arsenal in FA Cup action this weekend and Manchester City managing to collect only a point at lowly Norwich, victory for the Foxes could significantly reduce the field in the race for the title. The Gunners are already eight points adrift and City a point further back and if his side can take its total to 63 - 22 more than they managed in the entire campaign last season - even down-to-earth manager Claudio Ranieri might start to believe the seemingly impossible is possible.

STEEL CITY GALACTICO

The last time Benitez headed for the dug-out, it was at the Mestalla Stadium to watch his Real Madrid side draw 2-2 at Valencia with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema among his armoury. Sheffield-born Jamie Vardy may not enjoy that kind of profile, but he knows where the net is and having recovered from something of a slump by his standards to take his goals tally to 19 for the campaign with four in his last seven games, he will pose the biggest threat to the Magpies' hopes.

Press Association

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