The lads from the north of England won’t have to move down just one bit this weekend. Not at least when it comes to boarding a plane or getting their buttocks into a national couch.
Now, speaking of moving down... what about having to very seriously look down the Premier League table to find out more about Liverpool, Newcastle’s opponent this Saturday? Ah, how times change...
You just have to peep at the EPL records to find Liverpool winning the title by the end of the 2019-20 season. Heck, even more recently, the Reds were playing for the earns to lift another Champions League title! That was just last May, less than a year ago! Who would have thought!?
Now, ‘Pool sits in 9th followed by Chelsea in 10th place in the Premier League table, and the former are facing (who else?) Real Madrid in their Champions League round-of-16 matchup. Uh, oh. At the end of the day, I guess some things still never change.
Don’t be fooled by that final loss or the putrid start of the season by Liverpool, though. They are coming off beating Everton last Monday with no other games played since February 4th when they lost to Wolves. You can fairly say they have been off for half a month, so they’re coming in rested and then some.
Before that victory, though, Liverpool ate a couple of back-to-back losses in the FA Cup (2-1 at Brighton) and the EPL (3-0 at Wolves), and their only chance at winning a title this year (LOL) starts by beating Real Madrid next Tuesday. Good luck with that. Meanwhile, Howe will be hoping for Klopp to rotate some of his main men undervaluing NUFC’s power this weekend even though one of these two teams is sitting in 2023-24 UCL-qualifying places and the other is not even in Conference League positions. Ooffff...
Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media on Friday, ahead of the matchup against Liverpool back at the comfortable confines of St James’ Park scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18.
"We're not here to do anything other than to try and win the game that we're competing in."— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) February 17, 2023
Eddie Howe spoke to the media this morning ahead of tomorrow's visit of Liverpool to St. James' Park
Eddie Howe will be managing his 17th game against Liverpool on Saturday having lost 14 of the prior 16 matchups against the Reds with a win and a draw to spare. Not the best record, mate, but we’re sure things are about to change!
With regards to the Carabao Cup final scheduled for the final weekend of February, Howe was asked if he would make any changes and rotate players against Liverpool this Saturday to keep some legs fresh.
“We look at our opponent and look at what we need to be competitive in this game.”
“We’ll always try and make the right tactical decisions based on our opponents and ourselves. First and foremost we have to look internally.”
“It’s something we think long and hard about.”
The Magpies last battled Liverpool in August at Anfield in their last defeat of the Premier League season to date. They’ll be hosting the Reds this time out, though, and Howe was asked about the defensive fortress he’s turned SJP into this campaign.
“[Playing at SJP] has been pivotal. Home form always is.”
“Lately we’ve been a bit frustrated as we wanted more goals and clear cut chances. Teams have defended well against us.”
Also, about that nightmarish day at Liverpool when it took Jurgen Klopp’s side around 120 minutes in regulation to defeat Newcastle...
“I wouldn’t say we owe Liverpool one. We owe ourselves to do our best in this game and to do everything in our power to try and win the match.”
“I’m reluctant to use Liverpool (and that defeat last August) as motivation for us—we shouldn’t need that. It should come from ourselves.”
“Liverpool will provide a different test than we’ve had in recent weeks. They’re still a top team with an outstanding manager so we know the task is a huge one this weekend.”
With Newcastle’s lack of depth and a few players injured, Howe let us know a little bit more about how things are going in the medical room for the game against Liverpool and next week’s trip to Wembley.
“[Almiron and Saint-Maximin] have been back training and they are fine.”
“[Wilson] has done very well. It’s a minor complaint for him. He hasn’t trained yet, but we hope he trains today and he’s in contention (for tomorrow’s game).”
“[Willock], we haven’t seen yet. He is doubtful for the game tomorrow, but I don’t think it’s a major injury at all. It’s a very minor complaint in his hamstring. There’s a chance [Willock will feature at Wembley].”
“Targett has made a welcomed return to training. First steps for him, but good signs that he is nearing coming back.”
“There are no fresh injuries.”
With Wilson going through some injury-related complaints, there is a chance Alexander Isak starts in his place against Liverpool on Saturday. Howe praised the Swede forward on his Friday presser.
“[Isak] missed a week’s training and at this level there’s a slight reaction to that. He lasted 90 minutes last week and gave a good effort for the team.”
“He is in good physical condition and improving all the time. He’s looked absolutely electric in training.”
“Before he had the concussion (against Southampton on Jan. 31) I think he was in his best form for us.”
There is a little someone that goes by the name of Anthony Gordon and comes with a past linked to Liverpool, Everton, Merseyside, and a very heated rivalry between both clubs... Would any of that change anything about Gordon’s presence on the pitch tomorrow?
“You can’t just pick a team based on how well they play against this team.”
“I do think there’s certain players that may have done well against certain teams or at certain grounds and that sticks in your mind as a manager.”
“But you have to take into account the last week, two weeks or three weeks of training.”
Among players facing potential suspension for the next games, if they see a yellow or a red card this weekend, Joelinton is just one card shy of reaching 10 cards and thus getting a one-match ban by the Premier League.
“[Joelinton] is physical, and he’s going into a lot of duels. We’re desperate not to lose him, but also don’t want him to change.”
Last league game before focusing full-time on the Carabao Cup final and the chance at lifting a trophy for the first time since... forever.
Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, though, and think about mid-table Liverpool first. While the Reds are sitting at a dreadful ninth place 21 games into their campaign, this is definitely not going to be an easy matchup for Howe and the lads in black and white threads.
We all know what happened the last time these two giants met and how the refs wanted and helped things to end, so the Magpies will need to stay more than alert and pounce when the opportunities get to them.
Liverpool on the 18th, Man. Utd on the 26th, and we’ll be on to March for the home stretch before the season ends. Still plenty of fireworks ahead with NUFC not dropping from the fifth position no matter what happens this weekend between Spurs and Hammers.
- Date: Saturday, February 18th
- Kick-off: 17:30 BST / 12:30 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, Peacock, SiriusXM FC, NBC, UNIVERSO NOW, UNIVERSO (USA) — Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Ultra HD, Sky Sports Premier League, SKY GO Extra, BBC Radio 5 Live (UK)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.