You better enjoy this one, because it’s going to be the last game in a good while until we get officially back to it no earlier than next August. It’s the Premier League finale and it’s all going down Sunday at 3pm UK/10am ET.
In advance of a very crucial clash against relegation-threatened Burnley, Eddie Howe addressed the media on Friday morning to touch on the most pressing news surrounding United. Newcastle flights to Burnely as they’ll play the Clarets away from home with the hosts trying to take advantage of that to at least get the result Leeds pull off against Brentford to stay in the Premier League one more year at the very least.
Here’s what went down in the room where Eddie sat earlier today.
Given the hyper-high stakes of this game, but the appreciated absolute disinterest of Newcastle in it with relegation already averted, the question was obviously going to come: is United giving a damn about this match?
“We will pick our strongest team and try to win the game.”
“There’s no let up from our perspective, we’re determined to end the season on a high.”
The Magpies might be safe already, yes, but they’re facing a Premier League side—and one fighting for survival, no less. Thus, Howe’s opinion on his opponent this weekend.
“I respect Burnley and know the position they’re in but we have a job to do.”
“We represent Newcastle and we’re proud to do that. An opportunity to finish in the top ten shouldn’t be underestimated so we’ll give our all to try and achieve that.”
And Howe is goddam right. If you follow the league closely, you know what happened on Thursday. Crystal Palace visited Goodison Park to face Everton—virtually in the same position as Burnley will find themselves Sunday—and it was a very pleasant first half for the visitors. Of course, Everton finished the game turning it on its head with a massive bounce-back victory built on faith, resilience, and a pitch invasion midway through the final whistle—and a celebratory one after all was said and done, with safety already secured.
That’s what Newcastle will experience on Turf Moor. Of course, both Crystal Palace and Newcastle can afford to lose, draw, and whatnot. But getting a W this weekend is surely going to be a hella tall task, folks.
With Chris Wood missing the game against Arsenal entirely, Howe clarified his status ahead of Sunday’s match.
“We’re going to try him today in training. We don’t think it’s a serious injury so fingers crossed we see him in training today.”
Fabian Schar played—and started, in fact—with the Magpies last Monday, but he had to leave the field with a concussion right off the second-half bat.
“We’re following concussion protocols. He may be doing something outside today but we’re following the protocols closely so it’ll be a late decision on him.”
And we’re glad Schar is already there, getting better, and safe. That was a scary moment on Monday, so it’s fantastic to know it’s all good now.
Speaking about that monster win against top-5 Arsenal, Howe mentioned the lap of honor taken by the lads at the end of the home finale. Considering that might have been the last time out there in St James Park—at least donning Black and White threads—for some of the players currently on the team, it made sense Howe addressed the little gesture.
“There was a whole range of emotions. I really enjoyed seeing everyone happy.”
Speaking about Arsenal, expectations going forward, and facing clubs of a similar top-level next season while trying to jump into European-play positions.
“I think in terms of performance that’s the highest standard we’ve reached.”
“That will be the marker we judge ourselves against now, knowing we’re capable of delivering that.
“I was very proud of the performance [against Arsenal] and what the players had delivered.”
“We have to get close to those levels, if not surpass them, on a consistent basis.”
Staying on the next-season talk, Howe shed more light on the topic.
“I’m very proud of the club of how it’s united together in our fight to stay in the division.”
“I want my squad to be confident and ambitious.”
“They have to believe in big things but we have to set targets internally because we also have to manage expectation.”
“We don’t want them to play under unnecessary pressure which hampers our performance.”
Keep an eye on Coming Home Newcastle as we’ll be bringing you the best possible coverage in advance of Monday’s game against Arsenal, the last of the season on home turf, and the usual thoughts and reports after the final whistle late Monday and come Tuesday.