Competition: Premier League – Leicester City vs. Newcastle United
Venue: King Power Stadium – Monday, March 14 – 20:00 GMT (15:00 ET)
Match Odds: Leicester 4/7 – Draw 3/1 – Newcastle 19/4
Benitez, who was sacked by Real Madrid in January after just seven months in charge, replaced Steve McClaren on Friday and will now be tasked with trying to keep Newcastle in the Premier League.
He faces a stiff first game in charge though, with a trip to Premier League leaders Leicester probably the most difficult fixture he could have been handed.
The Foxes are five points clear at the top of the table heading into the weekend and have not lost in ten games at the King Power Stadium.Embed from Getty Images
A resilient 1-0 win at Watford last time out saw Leicester reinstalled as title favourites and they are now just nine games away from landing a historic and remarkable title win.
Newcastle are enduring a completely different campaign. They sit second from bottom and are in real danger of being relegated.
However, the Magpies have a game in hand over the clubs around them and are only a point from safety heading into the weekend. They will hope the appointment of Benitez can inspire things to improve on the field.Embed from Getty Images
The 3-1 loss at home to Bournemouth last weekend saw them lose their third league game on the bounce. The Magpies have not lost four in a row all season.
Leicester won the reverse fixture 3-0 at St James’s Park and will be looking for a fourth consecutive victory against Newcastle in all competitions on Monday night.
Leicester’s only current injury concern is Matthew James and so Claudio Ranieri will be able to pick his strongest possible lineup for the visit of Newcastle on Monday night.
All eyes will be on Rafa Benitez’s first team selection as Newcastle boss on Monday evening but the Spanish manager could be without as many as 12 first team players. Andros Townsend and Cheick Tiote are both doubts, while Tim Krul, Ivan Toney, Gabriel Obertan, Massadio Haidara, Pappis Cisse, Kevin Mbabu, Curtis Good, Sylvain Marveaux, Chancel Mbemba and Fabricio Coloccini remain out.
Leicester’s last five: W/W/L/W/L
Newcastle’s last five: L/W/L/L/L
Key Stat: Monday blues – Newcastle have lost each of their last eight Premier League games played on a Monday night, failing to score in any of their last five Monday fixtures. All eight have been played away from home.
Key Player: Riyad Mahrez – The Algerian playmaker has been a revelation for the Foxes this year. He netted the winner in Leicester’s 1-0 win at Watford and has now been involved in 26 Premier League goals. He is the only top flight player in double figures for both goals (15) and assists (11) this term.Embed from Getty Images
Leicester 2-2 Newcastle – Leicester haven’t looked as dangerous in recent weeks and had to settle for a 2-2 draw with West Brom in their most recent home game. Newcastle’s managerial change should see the players improve and Rafa Benitez will be desperate to avoid defeat in his first outing as manager. A close-fought battle looks likely, though there could be some goals in this.