The Magpies will face the Owls in an all-birds battle on Saturday, Jan. 7 as part of the FA Cup’s 3rd Round before things get serious as the competition keeps advancing.
Newcastle, coming off a Premier League matchup with Arsenal finished in a goalless draw, have not lost a game since the final day of August. Sheff Wed aren’t short of beautiful results having won or drawn all of their games after losing in the Carabao Cup all the way back on Nov. 9.
The Owls have dropped just one game in regulation from Sep. 20 on (a 1-2 defeat against Plymouth back on Oct. 4) so it’s not that Sheff Wed can be taken lightly by Eddie Howe & The Toon.
As is always the case before a game, Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media ahead of the matchup against Sheff Wed to be played away from home at Hillsborough, Sheffield, on Saturday.
First things first, Howe was asked about this game and the perceived disparity of talent between the Magpies and the Owls, and how that might make rotating the squad a bit easier:
“It’s going to be down to me to try to get the balance right of how we prepare for this game and what team we pick.”
“We want to win the game and want to go through.”
“The biggest thing is how we approach the game & the mentality of the group.”
“Their motivation levels, professionalism, desire.”
“We’re under no illusions that it’ll be a difficult task but it’ll be more difficult if we’re not in the right place ourselves.”
Touching on a very slim midfield and how he is planning on dealing with the injuries, fitness, and absence of some of the players at those positions:
“In midfield we don’t have great strength in depth at the moment.”
“The guys who are playing there are doing well and are enjoying the rhythm at which they are playing.”
Speaking about Alexander Isak, who has made some headlines of late related to his potential return to the lineup at some point during the two cup games ahead:
“Let’s get through training today.”
“I’m not clear—I just don’t want to put pressure on him and we want to introduce him at the right time.”
“Isak is getting closer all the time and he has trained. Let’s wait and see.”
Dealing with questions about Elliot Anderson and his shrinking role among first-team players as the season has advanced:
“He’s very valued by us.”
“He’s had a number of niggles over the last couple of months which have prevented him being involved more.”
“He’s got a valuable role to play with us between now & the end season—we certainly won’t be loaning him anywhere.”
Talking about the Premier League and the impressive defensive record currently posted by Newcastle, who have allowed the fewest goals in the best league in the world:
“The record and performances in general have been very good.”
“That will get harder for us and the challenge will become greater but I back the players we have.”
“The mentality to defending from the whole team has been superb.”
Questioned about his opinion on the Arsenal fallout and Mikel Arteta’s low-class antics:
“There are certain times in the game where you have to manage situations.”
“Depending on how the game is going and where the momentum is, you have to be streetwise and smart and find a way to get a positive result for your team.”
“We’re not here to be popular. We’re here to compete.”
Asked about Fabian Schar, who might be left out of tomorrow’s lineup so he can enjoy some deserved rest:
“His vision and composure on the ball is second to none.”
“What’s really impressed me is his defensive mindset—he’s become and integral part of our back line.”
“Schar reads the game very well, he’s diligent in his defending and he continues to improve.”
About possible unknown injuries and other potential issues impacting the squad ahead of the game on Saturday:
“A few bumps and bruises but no new injuries that stands in my mind.”
“If Alexander Isak gets through training today, we’ll see on him. He has trained with team.”
First game of the calendar year outside of a Premier League ground for Newcastle. So far, so good for the Toon as the Magpies have advanced on all fronts and are still sitting pretty in third position when it comes to the EPL.
Eddie Howe won’t have many options available to rotate the squad unless he digs deeper into the bench and the reserve teams, but it is what it is, and the occasion might actually call for it with Sheffield Wednesday a level or four below Newcastle’s players' talent.
The Men in Black & White are determined to lift a trophy this season, so you bet they’ll do everything in their hands to advance and live for another game after tomorrow’s match away from SJP. It’s about time Newcastle bring some silverware home.
- Date: Saturday, January 7th
- Kick-off: 18:00 BST / 13:00 EST / 12:00 PST
- Location: Hillsborough, Sheffield (England)
- Broadcasts: Sportsnet World Now, Sportsnet World, Sportsnet Now, Sportsnet Now Plus (CAN) — ESPN+ (USA) — BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC One, BBC Sport Web, BBC iPlayer (UK)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.