Newcastle boss Benitez wary of Norwich threat

Date published: Tuesday 14th February 2017 10:44

Rafael Benitez: Eyed by Hammers

Rafael Benitez has warned Newcastle they cannot afford to ease off at Norwich.

The Magpies head to Carrow Road top of the Sky Bet Championship and ahead of Brighton by a point after Saturday’s 1-0 win at Wolves. 

Norwich have won their last four home games to sit two points outside the play-offs as the Canaries begin to get their season back on track. 

And Benitez is wary of the hosts’ threat as his side aim to stay ahead of Brighton.

“It will be a very tough game,” Benitez, who has Dwight Gayle fit again, told a press conference.

“They were a candidate to win the title at the start of the season, they have everything to be at the top.

“Norwich are very dangerous. But we have to approach this game with the right mentality because it’s a tough game. They’re a very good team, with experience in the division. They have players with quality who know their jobs.”

Norwich have recovered from eight defeats in 10 games, thumped Nottingham Forest 5-1 on Saturday and are looking to extend their five-game unbeaten run.

In September they were minutes away from a 3-2 win at Newcastle but lost 4-3 as their season started to crumble before Christmas, but boss Alex Neil believes the Canaries can derail Newcastle’s title challenge.

He told the EDP: “Without doubt we will be a match for them. We beat them the last time they came here in the Premier League. We were 3-1 up at their place and deservedly so.

“We know it is going to be tough because they are a right good side, but so are we and it is who plays well on the day.

“It is important we go on a good winning run. We have done it in the past. We did it the last time we went up so everyone knows we are more than capable.”

Brighton host Ipswich aiming to keep the pressure on Newcastle and Seagulls boss Chris Hughton has told strikers Tomer Hemed and Glenn Murray to continue their form with the pair having scored 25 goals between them this season.

He told the Argus: “They are our two top goalscorers and we need them to keep scoring goals for us to be where we want to be.”

Elsewhere, Aston Villa host Barnsley sitting 16th and without a win in the league since Boxing Day.

Steve Bruce’s side have lost six of their last seven games in all competitions and the boss admits they must handle the Villa Park pressure after Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Ipswich.

He told the club’s official website: “I understand the frustration, I understand it totally. It is not just about the weekend. We have to batten down the hatches, get ready for the flak and come out and show what we have got on Tuesday.”

Third place Huddersfield go to rock bottom Rotherham while play-off contenders Reading host Brentford, Leeds face Bristol City at Elland Road and Sheffield Wednesday welcome Blackburn.

Derby play Cardiff, Birmingham travel to Preston, Fulham welcome Forest and Wigan go to Wolves.

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