Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez faces media ahead of Arsenal, Jamaal Lascelles' message to fans

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Rafa Benitez will face the media this afternoon ahead of Newcastle United's visit to Arsenal.

Benitez's side go into the game on the back of a run of seven defeats from their last eight games.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

That sequence has left them a point above the Premier League's relegation zone.

Captain Jamaal Lascelles – who made his comeback in Wednesday night's 1-0 defeat to Everton – has been speaking about the club's plight.

We also have news of a sticking point in talks between United owner Mike Ashley and would-be buyer Amanda Staveley.

Here's your daily briefing:

Jamaal Lascelles and Rafa Benitez

Jamaal Lascelles and Rafa Benitez

Captain's message

Lascelles doesn't believe Newcastle are in a relegation battle – yet.

Asked if the club was in a relegation fight, Lascelles said: "No, not yet.

“I mean a lot of people would probably have been happy with the points we are on if they were asked at the start of the season, so I am not going to say we are in a relegation battle.

Christian Atsu, left

Christian Atsu, left

“There are still loads of game to play. It’s a long season. We are not looking at that, just taking things game by game. We’re not really looking at those other teams around us.

“All we can control is who were are up against. And we are focusing on the weekend.”

Read our full interview with Lascelles here.

Sticking point

Staveley's PCP Capital Partners remain in talks with Ashley and his representatives over the sale of the club.

The Middle East-based financier has made an improved offer of £300million.

However, there is a sticking point in talks.

Fight club

Is is mission impossible at the Emirates Stadium?

Winger Christian Atsu doesn't think so.

“It is difficult, but it is not impossible,” said fit-again Atsu. “In football, you cannot predict, especially in the Premier League. For us, we are positive.

“We are playing to win, not to draw or to lose. We want to win every game.

“We just keep fighting and working hard. It does not matter if it is Arsenal or Man City, we will try everything to win.”

Meanwhile, we have some important team news from the Arsenal camp.