Rafael Benitez says Newcastle can compete with top-six Premier League clubs
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Last Updated: 01/04/19 6:49pm
Rafael Benitez believes his Newcastle side are now capable of competing with the Premier League best.
Newcastle, who play Arsenal on Monday Night Football, are 13th in the table and are seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Newcastle's rise in form since the start of the new year sees them close on sealing Premier League survival. Benitez believes his side's recent improvement means they can look beyond fearing relegation.
"I'm coming from an environment where I'm used to winning titles," he exclusively told Sky Sports.
"What I want is the chance to compete, to have the chance to compete and to be sure that if you play against Arsenal, you are equal and you say 'OK, we can beat you'.
"Whereas at the beginning of the season 'we may get a point against Man City, Arsenal or Liverpool which would be a good achievement'. No, I used to win against these teams.
"I like to have a team that can compete and if you manage right and tactically you can win. It's something that you can do."
Benitez says the connection he has with the Newcastle fans is what motivates him to try and lift the Premier League club back into the top half of the table.
He added: "I have a very good bond with them because they were supporting me. The last game against Spurs [in the 15/16 season], we were already relegated, and they were singing my name. It was key in terms of my decision.
"Obviously when you are a professional and you work so hard, to see the recognition from the people around from the fans is massive for a manager.
"That is something I like and when I go on the streets and the city and the fans they love you it is positive.
"At the same time I have a responsibility because when they support you so much you want to do even better for them."