BenÝtez: "Attitude will be the key"


The Magpies lost 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the campaign, before drawing 0-0 at Cardiff City in an incident-packed clash last Saturday.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have started promisingly under Maurizio Sarri – Benítez's replacement at Napoli. The Blues cruised past Huddersfield Town a fortnight ago before striking late to defeat London rivals Arsenal at Stamford Bridge – a game in which they had raced into a two-goal lead.

United, however, saw off the same opponents in convincing fashion on the final day of the 2017/18 campaign, with Benítez acknowledging that only a similar sort of full-blooded display will do if they are to repeat the trick on Sunday.

"Sometimes, it depends on the rival, the style of football, the motivation, or if you score an early goal – things like that. But the main thing is the attitude, the work-rate, the approach, the mentality. It's a big lift, as soon as you score a goal against a top side. The fans are supporting the team even more, and the players have more belief," the Spaniard said.

"But we are talking about the Premier League now – the difference between teams is so big. They are spending a lot of money and bringing in the best players in the world. It's quite difficult to keep this intensity – last week, we saw teams with great intensity still conceding a lot of goals, because the quality of teams now is really, really good. You have to find the balance, and the balance means you have to try to win but try to win using the brain, not just the heart.

"I know Sarri well from his experience in Italy. He's a good coach, with some very good players. Two years ago, they won the league. Last year, it was a good team but they had some problems, but you can see now that everybody is happy. They are playing well. They will be very dangerous, we know that. We have confidence that having our fans behind the team can help, but we have to be sure we approach the game with the right mentality."

Benítez also confirmed that DeAndre Yedlin – who missed last week's trip to the Cardiff City Stadium after leaving the field late on against Spurs – is in line to return to action at St. James' Park.

"Yedlin's been training, so he's fine," the Magpies' boss said. "(Javier) Manquillo is doing better than we were expecting, but we have to assess him. A couple of players have little things, but we still have one more training session, so we have to wait.

We had a meeting (before the Cardiff game) where we were talking about Yedlin, and that maybe he could be in the squad, but it was a risk. In the end, we decided to go with Manquillo, and (Isaac) Hayden as a back-up. Then we lost Manquillo and then we lost Hayden, so everything was against us, but that’s football."