Newcastle will spend a week in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, where they will organize a “warm-weather” training cup while all competitions come to a pause because of the tournament to be held in Qatar from mid-November to the end of December.
The Magpies will stay in Riyadh from Dec. 4 to Dec. 10 and they’ll play a friendly against Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal on Dec. 8 (the venue and the kick-off time are yet to be confirmed).
There is a precedent to this type of trip, with the first one having taken place last January and already into the Saudi-owners era of Newcastle after the takeover by the country’s Public Investment Fund last October. Newcastle spent a week in Jeddah earlier this year playing Al-Ittihad in a game they won by a score of 2-1. That match kicked off at 15:45 GMT, but that’s the only guess we can make when it comes to the upcoming fixture time.
Truth be told, the prior trip to Saudi Arabia did Newcastle wonders. The Magpie contingent left Great Britain after having got eliminated from the FA Cup by Cambridge United and after a series of four losses, two draws, and just one victory in the Premier League. After coming back from the mini training camp away from home, Newcastle went on to win (five times) and draw (one) their next six games and didn’t lose a single match until midway through March sealing their presence in the 2022/23 Premier League season and entirely avoiding the threat of possible relegation.
Speaking to NUFC.tv about that trip to Saudi Arabia last season, Howe said that “the trip to Jeddah was pivotal for us,” adding that “it galvanized the group, and the hard work the players put in was rewarded in performances and results on our return.”
When it comes to the upcoming trip, Newcastle will leave the country after match day 16 in the Premier League with 15 games played to that day, and also after having faced Crystal Palace in the third round of the EFL Cup (Nov. 9).
The Magpies will return to domestic competition on Dec. 26 when they’ll face Leicester away from home on a Monday to later close the 2022 calendar year with a New Year’s Eve matchup against Leeds United in St James’ Park.
Newcastle “will have access to world-class facilities as refurbishments at our own training ground continue, and we look forward to facing Al-Hilal and playing in front of our growing numbers of supporters in the region.“
Howe seems to be pleased—to the extent he’s able not to be or can be any public about it—with this little detour as he’s been quoted saying that “the break for the World Cup gives us the opportunity for a mini pre-season ahead of a crucial part of the season, and I’m pleased to have finalized our plans.“