Newcastle United face Preston North End in The EFL Cup Tuesday night at St. James’ Park looking to extend their 6-game winning streak to a lucky 7 matches and put themselves in with a genuine shot at trophy glory.
Rafa Benitez is the Cup-winning specialist among the world’s greatest bosses and the only manager in history to win The Europa League, The Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA World Club Cup.
Preston North End, of course, have their own special place in football history having been one of the founding clubs of England’s Football League in 1888 though it was in 1938 when The Lilywhites last won a Cup, The FA Cup.
And The Magpies will have to wary of the clear and present threat Preston pose to the North-East club attempting to win its first major trophy since Bob Moncur lifted The Fairs Cup in 1969.
Preston are currently 9th in The EFL Championship after a 6-game unbeaten run of their own culminating in a 1-0 away win at Norwich City on Saturday. Managed by Simon Grayson and directed by former Leeds Chairman Peter Ridsdale, the North-West outfit, are ambitious to restore former glories.
Newcastle will have to be especially on their guard from set-pieces as the Lilywhites have a physically imposing team and carry a real aerial threat. Paul Gallagher is their dead-ball specialist and two of his set-pieces were dispatched in a recent 3-1 win over Huddersfield by Tom Clarke and Alex Baptiste.
In order to combat this threat from set-pieces, Benitez would be wise to turn to the best defensive header of the ball in the Newcastle squad, 6ft 3in Scotland international Grant Hanley.
Hanley was a big summer signing from Blackburn who has mainly been used as late defensive cover by Benitez to see games out as he did away to Rotherham against a late aerial bombardment from Alan Stubbs’ men.
Yet Newcastle may need to start him considering they are potentially playing against 6ft 7 in Danish giant forward Simon Makienok and former Gateshead striker and Middlesborough season ticket-holder Jordan Hugill, who will be looking to make a big impression up on northern turf as he did at the Riverside last season:
Newcastle would do well to note that tomorrow’s referee is Andrew Madley, the brother of notorious official Bobby whose wrong red card and penalty decision against Fabricio Coloccini ultimately meant Newcastle and Sunderland are playing in the wrong divisions this season, and whose own penalty decision against Ciaran Clark for Reading at St. James’ Park earlier this season was harsh with the former Villa man getting the ball first.
Yet he was quick to also rightly award Newcastle free kicks and a penalty so a general ‘Stay on Your Feet’ policy would be wise to cut giving away dangerous free-kicks to a minimum.
“When you are top of the table and you are doing well, you have to be careful,” Benitez explained. “And make sure that you don’t have over-confidence or complacency.
“You can tell the players though, and still sometimes you cannot control everything. They need to be on their toes and they know that if they don’t perform well, someone else will be there.
“So I think this positive competition is the key to keep the momentum and keep the team winning.”
However, as well as being focused defensively, Newcastle will look to turn the screw on a Preston side which was thrashed 5-0 by a Brentford side the black and whites recently took apart in style in front of their home fans.
Benitez has promised fresh legs and different faces so the likelihood of Aleksandar Mitrovic – a second half substitute on Saturday – or Daryl Murphy starting is high and Jesus Gamez or Cheick Tiote could come into the fold.
Whatever team is put out, Newcastle will be hoping to ensure they are in the hat for a potentially mouth-watering tie against one of the other big boys in The EFL Quarter-Final.
Neymar Suspended 3 Games for Punching Fan in Stands
Neymar’s Paris Saint-Germain club had just lost to Stade Rennes in a 6-5 penalty shootout, and following the loss the 27-year old superstar and his team had to go through the crowd to get their second place medals.
That’s where things got a little of hand for Neymar and a fan in the stands.
As Neymay traveled through the crowd he claims a fan lurched at him and began shouting various insults which prompted Neymar to punch him in the face. Neymar later stated that; “I was wrong but I don’t have cockroach blood.”
The fan who was struck claims he suffered a bloody nose and a split lip from the punch and Neymar was hit with a 3-game suspension from the French Football Federation, a suspension the team has described as “severe.”
PSG and Neymar will appeal the suspension.
Neymar appeared to smack someone in the face on the way to collect his runners-up medal last night after having a smartphone shoved in his direction by the man in question who was insulting him. pic.twitter.com/ubQQstObPo
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) April 28, 2019
Juventus Fans Arrested After Clash with Police
Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash between Juventus and Ajax has already been marred by violence and controversy, before the teams even took to the pitch.
According to Ansa, citing a report from De Telegraaf, dozens of fans were reportedly arrested in Amsterdam in the hours leading up to the game.
Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini (h/t Football Italia) took to Facebook live video to state that “around 120” fans had been arrested.
Per the report from De Telegraaf, fans near the Johan Cruyff Arena were “in possession of knives, clubs, pepper spray and flares.” Also, dozens of Ajax supporters were reported to have clashed with riot police in separate incidents outside the stadium and were eventually dispersed with the use of tear gas and water cannons.
The Mirror posted the following images on their Twitter page:
Man City forward Raheem Sterling Looking to Combat Racism on the Pitch
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, who spoke out last month after being subjected to taunts during England’s game in Montenegro, is looking to take his fight against racism to the pitch, saying he would rather stay on the field than let racism force him to walk off of the pitch during a match.
Sterling’s manager Pep Guardiola, stated that he would support players walking off in protest if it happened again, in a strong statement that racism is simply not acceptable.
“I think everyone are entitled to their own opinions. My mum has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and I am,” Sterling said, according to the Manchester Evening News.
“I wouldn’t personally agree with [walking off], to win the game would hurt them even more they’re only trying to get you down. If you walk off they win, to score or win would be better.
“Everyone’s different. Everyone has their own opinion, how they deal with things emotionally and you have to support everyone.”
Sterling opened up about the racism he has faced in his life, discussing when he first expereinced racism when he moved from North London up to the north-west back in 2010.
“I don’t think trying to make a difference or making a difference, it’s about speaking what you experience. Some people might shy away from it, if more players speak up that might be better.
“It’s offensive but growing up my mum always told me I’m a wonderful black child and I know this. When I hear it, it’s nothing new. I’m happy with it. I’m confident, I’m black and I’m proud. Some people can’t take it but my mum has always told me to love who I am.
“The first time I experienced racism is when I went up north to Liverpool – in London in schools and on a day-to-day basis you’re surrounded by a diverse community. Only a few occasions growing up in the academy in Liverpool, and then mainly in the last couple of years of being a professional.”
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