Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez believes Manchester City’s unprecedented Champions League run could have a beneficial effect on his bid to save the Magpies from relegation.
City travel to St James’ Park on Tuesday and Benitez expects some of the visitors to be preoccupied by thoughts of a first ever European semi-final against his former club Real Madrid next week.
“I think they have an eye on the Champions League and hopefully we can take advantage,” he said. “In the back of your head you are thinking about a semi-final or a final and if you are going to get an injury. They are professionals and they will try to win but in the back of their mind they won’t want to miss a game through injury.”
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Newcastle could climb out of the Premier League’s bottom three at the expense of Norwich if they pull off an unlikely victory over City, who climbed to third with a 3-0 win at Chelsea on Saturday.
City have captain Vincent Kompany and winger Raheem Sterling back from injury but Samir Nasri has joined fellow midfielder David Silva and full-backs Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna on the sidelines.
“We must continue the way we played on Saturday: solid, keeping a clean sheet and scoring goals,” said City manager Manuel Pellegrini.
“Newcastle are very dangerous, they have good players. St James’ Park is difficult and they need all the points to not get relegated.”
Relegation battle: the run-ins
Norwich (17th, 31 pts)
Arsenal (a), 30 April; Man Utd (h), 7 May; Watford (h) 11 May; Everton (a), 15 May
Sunderland (18th, 30 pts)
Arsenal (h), 24 April; Stoke (a), 30 April; Chelsea (h), 7 May; Everton (h), 11 May; Watford (a), 15 May
Newcastle (19th, 28 pts)
Man City (h), 19 April; Liverpool (a), 23 April; Crystal Palace (h), 30 April; Aston Villa (a), 7 May; Tottenham (h), 15 May