Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez on 'extra special' Liverpool reunion, player clearout

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

So now we know.

Newcastle United will kick off the 2017-18 Premier League campaign with a home game against Tottenham Hotspur, beaten 5-1 on their last visit to St James's Park, on August 12.

And the club will finish their campaign with a home game against champions Chelsea on May 13.

READ MORE: 7 things we learned from Newcastle's Premier League fixtures

In between those two challenging games, there are 36 other tough fixtures.

But the fixture computer hasn't been too hard on Newcastle, though the club faces three visits to London in a gruelling December.

St James's Park

St James's Park

Here's your daily briefing:

Balance

Newcastle's Premier League fixtures were published this morning.

United face a demanding first campaign back in the top flight, but the fixtures could have been a lot worse.

Chris Hughton

Chris Hughton

Rafa Benitez feels the programme is "balanced".

"It's a great start at home to Tottenham, and a really exciting first game at St. James's Park for our fans to enjoy," said Benitez.

"After Spurs I think then we have a good run of games, and I'm pleased to see it's quite a balanced list in terms of the teams we're up against.

"The fans will enjoy being at home to Manchester City on Boxing Day. It is always nice for fans to enjoy games against top teams over the Christmas period.

"We also have a great game to round off the season with Chelsea visiting us on the last day of the season.

"Aside from that, obviously I look forward to the two games with Liverpool. Those days will be extra special for me, but really every game is exciting and every game has its own challenges

"It will be nice, too, to come up against Chris Hughton and his Brighton side again this season."

Ruthless streak

Benitez's focus, for now, is on strengthening Newcastle's squad ahead of the new season.

Newcastle's manager – who has already said goodbye to Vurnon Anita – is ready to be ruthless this summer.

Vurnon Anita

Vurnon Anita

And a number of the club's Championship stalwarts are fearing for their futures at the club ahead of a number of incoming arrivals.

High stakes

Meanwhile, Mike Ashley and his advisors are exploring the possibility of selling United – or a stake of the club.

There is interest in Newcastle from China, and more prospective investors could come forward after news broke that Ashley, the club's billionaire owner, was "considering all options".

We take a look at what this means for the club.

And finally...

It looks like former United forward Hatem Ben Arfa, now at Paris Saint-Germain, will be on the move again this summer.

But where to?

We take a look at the news coming out of the Parc des Princes.

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Mike Ashley, centre

Mike Ashley, centre