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Rafa Benitez will be in charge of Newcastle United

Rafa Benitez will be in charge of Newcastle United for the first time at St James’s Park and he has a huge march straight away. The club will be taking on archrivals Sunderland in the Tyne Wear derby.

More importantly, this clash will also see Benitez coming up against his former nemesis Sam Allardyce. The duo have frequently flashed with each other when they were in charge of Liverpool and Bolton respectively. However, Allardyce has been much more mellowed in his pre-match press conference views about Benitez. After losing his first match against Leicester, Benitez will be hoping to inspire his players to a much needed victory.

The Spaniard was brought to the club in the hope of avoiding relegation for the second time this century. Newcastle have already experienced the relegation back in 2009 and the club are desperate to avoid a repeat of the same. However, they find themselves slipping deep inside the relegation zone owing to poor form since the turn of February. The club are without a victory since the narrow-zero success over West Brom at the start of February. Sunderland, though, have the better record in the Tyne Wear derby of late. They have won the last six matches and are back at 13/5 for a seventh win against Newcastle.

These matches are usually a tight contest and the presence of Rafa Benitez is only expected to amplify this feature. The odds of 19/5 for both teams to end this match as a score draw look extremely favourable. Three points are essential for both teams, as they remain favourites for the relegation with eight matches left in the campaign. Sunderland are at 4/7 to get relegated while Newcastle are slightly poorer with odds of 4/6. Newcastle had defender Fabricio Coloccini sent off in the previous meeting between the two teams.