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'We have the quality to survive' Rafa: 'We're good enough to stay in the Premier League'.

Byline: Mark Douglas NUFC Editor @msidouglas

RAFA Benitez insists his out-of-form Newcastle United are good enough to survive in the Premier League this season.

United lost for the fifth time in six games on Saturday as they squandered a lead at Stamford Bridge. They are not the only lower-half team to struggle against top four opposition this season - none have taken so much as a point from Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal or Chelsea - but Newcastle's loss puts pressure on the team ahead of a home double header against improving Leicester and Everton.

Benitez will look to the transfer window in January and Turn to Page 44 From Back Page hope that the takeover being negotiated by Amanda Staveley is brokered but with eight games before January 1, his solution was "work harder". And while he can't promise an immediate reaction to the poor results, he does feel they have enough quality to secure survival.

"We have to improve, but yeah, to stay up I think (we have the quality). To stay up, I think so.

"But when people talk about these games, this is the Premier League. We know we have to improve a lot of things, but still we will be a team in the bottom half of the table," he said.

"We have to keep working harder.

We knew from day one that we will be in the bottom half of the league. It's not a surprise to anyone."

Newcastle fought well at Stamford Bridge but were architects of their own downfall with a series of mistakes leading to Chelsea's goals. Benitez said: "Nobody was expecting that we could do well here but we did well for a while.

"We were doing what we wanted to do for some minutes but it was the same as against Manchester United; if you make one mistake and you concede, you have to carry on, but we made another mistake and conceded another goal.

"Still we were in the game for a while, but the next mistake we paid for that.

"Then, at 3-1, we have to take more risks, you go higher, you take more risks but they can run behind or play counter attack. Too many things were wrong after we made the first mistakes and after a lot of positives at the beginning."

There was a stark reminder from Benitez of the quality of his side when he admitted that sometimes, it is about not being able to stop high quality opponents. Chelsea's playmaker Eden Hazard was irresistible. "Yeah, we know a lot about our team, but at the same time, we know about the other teams and still we can't stop them," he said.

It was put to Benitez that January would be a big month for him and his side. "I have no idea," he said.

Asked to clarify, he repeated: "I have no idea." When asked whether that was because of the takeover he again repeated: "I have no idea."

A change in owner - or confirmation from the existing one that he can spend - would be a major fillip in a testing campaign.

CAPTION(S):

Rafa Benitez is confident the Magpies will stay in the Premier League. Above, Dwight Gayle celebrates his goal against Chelsea

Rafa says United must improve, but he believes they will survive

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 4, 2017
Words:552
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