Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez is targeting an against-the-odds win against his former club Liverpool tomorrow (23 April). The former Reds boss returns to Anfield with his relegation-threatened Magpies side, but having earned a 1-1 draw against Manchester City earlier this week, Benitez is optimistic about the Premier League encounter.
The Spaniard, who replaced Steve McClaren at St James' Park, revealed his players are all raring to go for their crunch game on Merseyside. He insisted, too, that they will not be intimidated by the prospect of playing at Anfield, despite their poor away form this season.
"The competition between players is really important, especially at the end of the season when there are really important games," Benitez said during a pre-match press conference ahead of his own return to Liverpool, as quoted by the club's Twitter account. "Before the game, you're always thinking about getting three points – it doesn't matter about the name of your rivals."
Benitez expects a "fantastic" atmosphere at Anfield and was fulsome in his praise of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who succeeded Brendan Rodgers earlier this season. "We are fighting and they are fighting. They have a good manager and they have good players. The atmosphere will be fantastic," the former Liverpool manager explained.
"We know about our away form and it's not the best, but the reaction of the players these last two games showed me that we can improve."
Newcastle are currently 19th in the Premier League table, two points behind 17th-placed side Norwich City. Following their game against Liverpool, the Magpies face Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur in their remaining matches.