Mere days after their last trip away from Newcastle ended in a loss at the hands of Chelsea in London, the Magpies will go on the road once more to pay a visit to 18th-place Luton Town on Saturday in a Premier League matchup.
The lads from Luton beat Everton at the end of September and Crystal Palace nearly a month ago, but they haven’t won any more games this season and have yet to crack the double-digit-point barrier in the Premier League. They are entering the weekend having lost three of their last four games, all of them played this month, although they earned a point the last time we watched on Dec. 16 in a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth.
Newcastle, currently occupying the sixth place in the Premier League table, are fighting for their proverbial lives. They have crashed out of Europe and the Carabao Cup in a week of late losing to AC Milan (2-1) and Chelsea (1-1, 4-2 on penalties) in their two most recent single-game elimination matchups. They sandwiched those defeats with a solid 3-0 victory against Fulham, but that’s not really anything to be too proud of given the full-picture context of the season to date.
on penalties) were recently eliminated from the EFL Cup by Chelsea following a penalty shootout. Despite a defeat in their last European match against AC Milan, they secured a 3-0 victory over Fulham in their most recent league game. However, their away record has been patchy, with only one top-flight win on the road this season.
Anthony Gordon left the game against Chelsea adding to the injury woes of the Magpies. Joelinton, Fabian Schar, Alexander Isak, and Emil Krafth are also dealing with injuries, although they have featured of late and could be on the field on Saturday. Joe Willock, Javi Manquillo, Harvey Barnes, Nick Pope, Jacob Murphy, Elliot Anderson, Matt Targett, and the suspended Sandro Tonali are among the confirmed absentees for Newcastle.
This is the second-to-last game of the calendar year for our boys, and one of two sandwiching Christmas Day before the lads host Nott Forest on Dec. 26 before going on a little vacation getting ready to visit Liverpool on New Year. Sheesh.
Here are some of Howe’s Wisdom Nuggets, courtesy of NUFC.co.uk
On team-news, with Gordon and Emil Krafth both withdrawn during the Magpies’ Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat against Chelsea:
“We’re going to see how they are this morning. Anthony [Gordon] was sore - it was a horrible challenge on him. I am really disappointed with the tackle but we will see how he is today. Hopefully, he’ll improve quickly.
Emil [Krafth] had a really nasty cut on his shin which went quite deep and required stitches so he’s quite sore as well. Scans for Joelinton and Fabian [Schär] painted a similar picture as we thought, not too serious with either. Alex [Isak] is 50/50 (on featuring against Luton).”
On Luton captain Tom Lockyer, who suffered a cardiac arrest during the Hatters’ Premier League away clash against AFC Bournemouth last weekend:
“Watching the game back as we did, that was a really difficult moment for everyone connected with Luton and Tom himself. It really puts football into perspective. His health is paramount.
“It’s the second time it has happened (to him) and we want to send him our best wishes from everyone connected with Newcastle.”
On the Magpies’ first trip to Kenilworth Road since 1994:
“It is a very difficult place to go. I’ve been there many times as a player but we are looking forward to the game. Their (home) games they’ve had have been interesting and, if you go back through them individually, they ran Manchester City and Arsenal close and got a good draw against Liverpool.
“First and foremost, they have competed well in every game. They’ve been physically very good, fully committed to how they play. I think Rob (Edwards) has done a brilliant job.
“Knowing the stadium like I do; it will not be an easy game for us. We will have to be at our very best. It’s difficult to know what the atmosphere will be like but I’m sure it will be an emotionally charged game.”
On Kieran Trippier’s reaction to Tuesday’s Carabao Cup exit against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge:
“Kieran’s fine. He is a very strong character and vastly experienced. It’s never about one individual for me, it’s always about the collective and that’s very much how we reacted to Tuesday’s game.
“We were so close to progressing. That was our intention and a lot of the performance was very good. Penalty shoot-outs are always a lottery but it’s very much a collective response we did.
“Being one of the leaders of the group, he’s a standard setter and a role model. Everyone will look to him as they will do the other leaders in the group but I don’t think it’s been any different.
“We’ve all been in these positions before and I think the team has carry the weight forward and we need a response against Luton.”
On Sven Botman, with the Dutch defender making his first competitive start since September against Chelsea earlier this week:
“Sven is good, we will assess him today. I am very pleased with his return in the two games that he’s played. He has looked strong and comfortable.
“It will take him some time to build his rhythm back to his absolute best, as always when a player comes back from an injury, but he’s looked really good so far.”
On Callum Wilson, who scored against Chelsea on his 100th competitive appearance for the Magpies:
“Callum has come back into the team and done really well in a time where he didn’t have a lot of training before hitting the pitch.
His fitness was of the highest level, being able to play 90 minutes, and he’s looked strong physically. He took his goal really well and led the line as he always does.”
- Date: Saturday, Dec. 23rd
- Kick-off: 15:00 BST / 10:00 EST
- Location: Kenilworth Road, Luton (England)