Newcastle United convincingly beaten by Arsenal as Jonjo Shelvey looks on from the bench
The pre-match talk, again, concerned Benitez's future at the club ahead of the summer expiration of his contract.
Benitez's heart is telling him to stay at St James's Park – but what is his head telling him?
However, for the moment, it's all about the present – and that means more Premier League points, though their task was yesterday helped by Chelsea.
Newcastle tonight suffered 2-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium, where Benitez has never won a game. Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette were on target for Arsenal, and the scoreline could have been worse, such was the home team's domination.
Benitez could well be back with United next season, though he won't sit down for talks with owner Mike Ashley until the club's top-flight status is assured. The club remains seven-points clear of the relegation zone with six games left to play.
The first Newcastle fans had started to arrive in the capital as the last Sunderland supporters headed home after their club's Checkatrade Trophy final defeat to Portsmouth at Wembley.
Benitez made one change to his team and recalled the fit-again Jamaal Lascelles to his starting XI in place of Federico Fernandez. Jonjo Shelvey, again, had to be content with a place on the bench.
Cardiff City's dramatic and controversial defeat to Chelsea at the weekend had maintained the club's cushion above the relegation zone.
Arsenal, looking to record a 10th successive home win for the first time in more than 20 years, surprisingly had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the bench.
Newcastle found themselves under pressure in the first 15 minutes, and Ramsey had the ball in the net from a flicked-on corner. The strike, however, was ruled out for a Sokratis shirt tug on Florian Lejeune, who wasn't going to get to the ball.
United just needed to get the ball to Miguel Almiron, who looked a danger whenever he took possession.
Arsenal kept on coming, and they took the lead the 30th minute. Ramsey flicked the ball to Lacazette, and his return pass bounced off DeAndre Yedlin and fell for the midfielder, who swept it home from 15 yards.
Newcastle had their first shot seconds after the restart when Salomon Rondon got the better of Sokratis. The striker's near-post effort was turned round the post by Bernd Leno.
That was as good as it got for United in the first half, and the scoreline would have been worse had Matt Ritchie not headed a Lacazette shot off the line before the break.
Newcastle showed signs of life early in the second half. Almiron and Ritchie threatened down the left, and Emery sent on Ambameyang in the 61st minute.
Benitez replaced Isaac Hayden – who hadn't been able to get on the front foot against his former club – with Ki Sung-yueng for the last 20 minutes. Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto followed Ki on to the pitch, but neither was able to make an impact. Shelvey could only watch from the bench.
Dubravka soon beat away a shot from Aubameyang, but he was beaten with seven minutes left on the clock.
Aubameyang flicked the ball over Lascelles and Lacazette lifted the ball over Dubravka. That was game over.
Will it be over for Benitez and Newcastle in the summer? What Benitez wants, above all else, is to come to places like the Emirates Stadium and genuinely compete and win.
Can that happen on Ashley's watch?
ARSENAL: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac; Ramsey (Elneny, 70), Guendouzi, Iwobi (Aubameyang, 61), Ozil (Mkhitaryan, 84), Lacazette. Subs: Cech, Zuarez, Jenkinson, Nketiah.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lejeune, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie (Kenedy, 75); Perez (Muto, 77), Diame, Hayden (Ki, 70), Almiron; Rondon. Subs not used: Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Shelvey.
Goals: Ramsey 30, Lacazette 83
Bookings: Monreal 60, Kolasinac 72
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe)