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Rafael Benitez backs Manchester United to have say in title race

Rafael Benitez backs Manchester United to have say in title race
© Reuters
The Newcastle manager believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are on the up.

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has warned the rest of the Premier League not to write off Manchester United just yet.

Despite their rapid improvement under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, which has seen United brush aside Cardiff, Huddersfield and Bournemouth, the Red Devils will head into 2019 sitting in sixth place and trailing leaders Liverpool by 19 points.

That gap may be too big to close, but Benitez, who will send his side into battle with Solskjaer's men at St James' Park on Wednesday evening, is confident they can still cause problems for the main title contenders.

The Spaniard said: "Do you think the players that they have after spending the money they did are bad players? They are good players on the pitch, they have performed in the last three games – it is a very good team.

"It is a team that has to be in the top four, that is very clear. They can compete against anyone, Liverpool, Manchester City, anyone.

"We are talking about one of the biggest clubs in the world in terms of everything, the players they have, the names they have.

"They are so good, if you want to get points against them, if you want to win against them, you have to perform really, really well."

Newcastle did just that in February last year when United left Tyneside on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline thanks to Matt Ritchie's strike.

They also stunned Old Trafford into silence in October when they took a 2-0 lead before Jose Mourinho's United launched a comeback which saw Alexis Sanchez snatch victory at the death.

Benitez said: "If anything you need a bit of luck. Against the top sides, you need even more luck. If you make a couple of mistakes, maybe they will score a couple of goals. The top sides punish you.

"Obviously they have won a couple of games now and have more happy people around, but when you are winning, that is normal, it has to be like that.

"Hopefully they will be disappointed after our game and after, they can do what they want. For us, it is a massive game against a good team. It doesn't matter the manager now, they have good players and that is the main thing."


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Alexis Sanchez in action for Manchester United on November 7, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool22183150104057
2Manchester CityMan City22172359174253
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs22160646222448
4Chelsea22145340172347
5Arsenal22125546321441
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd22125544321241
7Watford229583232032
8Leicester CityLeicester229492625131
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham229493032-231
10Everton228683331230
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves228592328-529
12Bournemouth2283113142-1127
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2275102430-626
14Crystal Palace2264122028-822
15Burnley2263132343-2021
16Southampton2247112339-1619
17Cardiff CityCardiff2254131941-2219
18Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2246121631-1518
19Fulham2235142049-2914
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2225151337-2411

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