Rafa Benitez praises Newcastle players’ commitment after all-but securing Premier League status

Rafa Benitez was delighted with his side’s efforts in Newcastle’s 2-1 win over Arsenal, a result which takes the Magpies past the 40-point mark.

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez said his team’s commitment was the reason behind them all-but securing their Premier League status for next season.

The Spaniard witnessed his side recover from going a goal behind against Arsenal to win 2-1 at St James’ Park on Sunday thanks to goals from Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie.

Victory over Arsenal took Newcastle to 41 points for the campaign, leaving them 13 points above the relegation zone with just five games remaining.

“I said before about the commitment, everybody was working so hard from day one, every training session, every game, sometimes you were lucky, sometimes you were unlucky but in the end I think they deserved to stay in the Premier League,” Benitez said.

“I think the first thing to say is to congratulate the club, the fans, the staff, the players, everybody because it was a massive effort this year.

“Everybody was pushing in the same direction and I am really pleased because we played against a very good team – we were talking about the changes they made but you could see the quality they had, especially first half; they were passing the ball really fast, really quick, very precise, so we needed to work hard and we did it.”

Arsenal opened the scoring through Alexandre Lacazette but Newcastle reacted well to come back and win the match.

Asked if he was pleased with his team’s reaction to going a goal behind, Benitez said: “Yes, it is something significant to see the reaction of every single player, even the fans, they had the belief that we could score and we did it and after you could see we were suffering sometimes as it’s a very good team so to beat a team like this is very impressive.”

Although Newcastle can now start preparing for another season in the top flight, Benitez was not eager to talk about potential investment, nor his future at the club.

“Now is a time to enjoy,” he said. “Then we will have plenty of time to talk about the future but the main thing is to congratulate everyone here.”