Thierry Henry praises Rafa Benitez impact, backs Newcastle United to beat Sunderland

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The Arsenal legend believes Newcastle will pick up a crucial win this weekend.

Newcastle United take on Sunderland in a crunch North-East derby this weekend - as both teams look to pick up crucial points in the relegation battle.

The game will see Newcastle's new boss Rafa Benitez take charge of his second game as Newcastle boss and his first at St James Park - and what a game to open up with.

Newcastle lost their first game under the management of Benitez. They were defeated 1-0 against table topping Leicester City 1-0 at the King Power Stadium.

But Newcastle put in a good performance in that game and former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry told Sky Sports News HQ today (18/03/2016) that he is very impressed with what he has seen already from Newcastle under the Spaniard:

"They were compact, no distances between the lines, they were trying to be brave, passing the ball forward, running forward. I know it is an easy thing to say but they had the desire to defend and attack.

"They had a couple of chances to be fair. They had a togetherness. They looked like a unit and I did not think that happened for a very long time especially away from home.

"So when Newcastle play at home I am sure there will be no reason to remind the fans that they didn't beat them (Sunderland) for a very long time."

Newcastle do however have a poor recent run of form against Sunderland. The Black Cats have won their last six meetings with Newcastle United - leaving a serious mental block for Benitez and co to overcome for this game.

But when asked to predict the result Henry stated his belief that the time had come for Newcastle to end that run:

"I'm sure he (Benitez) has something up his sleeve, he always has.

"I think it will the end of the run of Sunderland."

With the clubs so delicately placed at the wrong end of the table this could be one of the biggest Tyne-Wear derby fixtures in history.

If Newcastle can fulfill Henry's prediction then the Toon Army will have plenty to shout about this weekend.

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