Arsenal boss Unai Emery has respect for "courageous" Newcastle counterpart Rafael Benitez

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Unai Emery has hailed the “courageous” Rafael Benitez as his “reference point” in English football.

Emery’s Arsenal host Benitez’s Newcastle in the Premier League on Monday, at a time when the two Spanish managers are again being praised for their work.

Victory would give Arsenal a 10th successive home league win, equalling a run they last enjoyed in the 1997/98 season in Arsene Wenger’s first full campaign as manager.

Benitez, meanwhile, is on the brink of leading Newcastle close to safety despite the unsettled circumstances he has had to deal with.

In contrast to Emery’s first season in English football, Benitez has proven long-term success that includes six largely impressive years with Liverpool from 2004.

Emery said: “I respect him a lot because he is a very good coach and has a lot of experience and a lot of titles.

benitez

“Here in England he has more experience than me. It is a big reference for us, for me, as a coach, his work and his courage.”

With Arsenal firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish and Champions League football next season, Emery added: “Each match gives us the possibility to progress.

“First is in the table, second is improving as a team, in our system, tactically and individually. I want to be better each match, and I think each player can progress.

“Each player can show us he is improving. In the table, our objective is very clear – to be in the top four. But we know this is difficult and each possibility like Monday is good. It gives us confidence for the challenge.”

Emery is also demonstrating a similar level of tactical flexibility that has contributed to much of Benitez’s success.

Arsenal have proved convincing while playing with both three and four-strong defences, options that could prove crucial given Lucas Torreira’s absence through suspension.

Fellow central midfielders Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey also face late fitness tests, even if the latter is expected to be available for selection.

Emery said: “We are taking good performances using different systems and different players.

“In the last two matches, we started with 3-4-1-2 but we finished playing 3-4-3. In 90 minutes we have different systems and different players.

“We need to continue doing that and maybe we can be consistent. The best possibility for us is for all the players to be ready to help us with a good mentality.”

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Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool players deserve credit for being in title race despite lucky breaks

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Liverpool benefitted from a lucky break against Tottenham.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp accepts luck has played a part in their rise to title contenders but stressed the job the players have done should not be under-estimated.

His side snatched a 2-1 win over Tottenham thanks to a 90th-minute Toby Alderweireld own goal to move back to the top of the Premier League – two points clear of Manchester City, who have a match in hand.

Mohamed Salah’s header was palmed back into the six-yard area by Hugo Lloris and Alderweireld diverted it back past his goalkeeper.

It was Liverpool’s 33rd winning goal in the 90th minute or later in Premier League history, which is eight more than any other side, and Klopp was asked if it was “fate” for Liverpool to win the title.

“I don’t go that far but if you go through the season of other teams, you will find these moments as well,” said Klopp.

“I told the boys after the game, there are 500,000 different ways to win a football game and it was rather ugly.

“No problem, we take that. Without a bit of luck you cannot be in the position we are in. It’s not possible.

“The boys work so hard, I think they deserve a bit of luck. For all the points we have now, we worked really hard.

“It is not important when you score but what it is on the scoresheet afterwards. Momentum is not a coincidence, it is something you take, you keep and you use. That helped obviously.

“Nine months ago, we started this mission, this ride, and wanted to go for the highest stakes in two competitions. We did it our way. The boys improved so much.

“We have to find a way to win games much more often than in the past. Until now it worked. It is all good.

“The boys work hard and if we would be first of the table after the last match of season, it would be a championship of will. We want it. We get used to situations, bit by bit, a bit better.”

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, serving a touchline ban in the stands, was philosophical after seeing his side come close to what could have been only a second victory in 25 league matches at Anfield.

It does, though, leave them in a battle for a top-four spot having been considered title contenders less than two months ago.

“In football, sometimes you deserve to win, like us, and you don’t win,” he said.

“Sometimes, in another game, it happens the same, maybe we won when we didn’t deserve too much. That is football.

“I am very disappointed but in the same time, it is difficult to explain, I am proud of the performance.

“We bounced back, the second half is the way you want to play and that feeling you need if you want to be a real contender.

“Liverpool and City are fighting for the title. it is a shame we are not close. We were but in the last few weeks we find our reality, our place. We are disappointed but knowing realistically we must be happy.

“We have a mini-league now, seven games, it’s in our hands to be in the top four and Champions League next season.

“We are in the (Champions League) quarter-finals and we will fight with Man City to be in the semi-final.”

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Pep Gaurdiola tips Man City to "go like a machine" in their quadruple trophy chase

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Pep Guardiola believes the pressure of needing to win every remaining Premier League match can boost Manchester City‘s quadruple bid.

City boss Guardiola hailed his players’ mental strength, tipping them to “go like a machine” in the chase for an unprecedented clean sweep of Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup this term.

His side coasted past hapless Fulham 2-0 at Craven Cottage on Saturday, with Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero on target and Guardiola predicting only seven wins from their remaining seven matches will allow them to retain the league title.

City will face Tottenham in the Champions League quarter-finals and Brighton in the FA Cup’s last four, with Guardiola relishing the clogged schedule and the pressure.

“For the semi-final and for the Champions League, being in the position in the Premier League where you know if you don’t win you are going to lose the Premier League, maybe that’s going to help us for the other competitions,” said Guardiola.

“If you are 10 points in front you can maybe be a little more selective.

“But now there’s no other option, we don’t have any other choice, so every game we have to win, if not you drop that competition.

“So that’s why sometimes to play with that pressure is nice, it’s necessary to get the best out of ourselves.

“There’s no complaints about our mentality, what happened last season and this season again.

“The players are not stupid, about the fact we’re trying something so difficult to achieve.

“The way we started to play against Fulham, they show me we want to do it.

“What’s next is Cardiff, so we’ll prepare well, and go like a machine to win, to play, and try to win. Mentally the players are ready.”

Kevin De Bruyne’s return to fitness on Saturday handed Guardiola another boost as City inch closer to a completely clean bill of health.

Fernandinho was back on the bench at Fulham, and Guardiola even admitted young star Phil Foden could feature at some stage against Cardiff on Wednesday.

“It’s really important, but he is still a little bit far away from his best condition,” said Guardiola, of Fernandinho.

“We know how well (Ilkay) Gundogan has played in his absence.

“But we need Kevin, we need of course people like Vincent (Kompany), Phil (Foden), so the next game we’re going to make a few changes.

“A few players are going to play against Cardiff, and I want the best for them.”

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