After a week for the ages in which Newcastle punched their tickets for a trip to Wembley on Feb. 26, we’re glad the Premier League is back.
The schedule was hella packed through the first half of the season and right after the return from the World Cup break but things are now back to normalcy with only one more cup game to play at the end of the month and just league matchups sandwiching the Carabao Cup final.
Eddie Howe is about to turn six-time-centennial, which will happen the minute he sits on the home SJP bench and the ball gets rolling in the game against West Ham this Saturday. Talk about a massive accomplishment for a very young and bright mind! And we’re so proud to be part of it—watching live on location or on a little screen!
Don’t get West Ham wrong, folks, because they might be inhabiting the deepest places of the EPL table but they have improved their results vastly of late winning three of their last five games while only losing one and drawing another.
Back-to-back wins against Everton in the Premier League and Derby in the FA Cup have the Hammers into the 5th Round of the latter and sitting 16th in the English top-flight division.
Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media on Friday, ahead of the matchup against West Ham at St James’ Park scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 4.
Eddie Howe is managing his 600th game this weekend after spending a few months on hiatus before taking charge of the home bench at St James’ Park. No big deal, right?
“I wouldn’t change anything in my career at this point. I’ve really enjoyed the challenges.”
“It’s gone very quickly and I think when you have to sit out of management for a bit and not be in a job—I look back and go ‘that was an amazing time’.
“When you’re in a job you’re just feeling the stresses of every day.”
Howe confirmed he had himself a night last midweek after qualifying Newcastle for their first final this century. We approve.
“When I got home on Tuesday it was 1am. Only my dog was awake.”
“My kids had a very late night, I’m told—I think they were very excited. They’re Newcastle supporters.”
“They’re excited for ‘Wombley’ as my youngest son calls it. He can’t quite pronounce it yet.”
Obviously, the lads also got to celebrate their triumph over Southampton but now they must refocus to keep pace atop the Premier League table so they can clinch the long-dreamed Champions League qualification.
“We’ve tried to refocus the players [after Tuesday].”
“This is a very difficult game (against West Ham). If we’re off it in any way it’ll be even harder.”
“There’s been a big push from me and the staff to make sure we’re ready for this game.”
If you remember what happened last Tuesday—which might not be the case because... booze—let us remind you that Bruno got sent off and will miss the next three Premier League games. Howe was asked about it, to which he had some thoughts to share.
“We’re going to miss him massively. He’s a huge player who has done ever so well for us.”
“Whenever you lose a player, you have to readjust. It’ll be the opportunity for the team to regroup and find another way.”
“The timing of it is difficult. We had a really intense period of games and now we don’t.”
“The good thing is he will be available for the final, but we have three huge Premier League games to come.”
Could this suspension mean Academy product Elliott Anderson will get a chance to break into the XI at some point through the next few weeks? We’ll have to wait and see, judging by Howe’s words about it.
“We will obviously miss Bruno’s presence and quality but we’ll adapt.”
“We have Elliot Anderson, who we really like. We’d love to see how he develops his Premier League career.”
“We have other players we feel can play in midfield as well.”
So, what about Anthony Gordon, then?
“Gordon will thrive in this environment with the positivity and the brilliant response from the fans.”
“He’s going to need that after a difficult last few months (at Everton).”
“(The change will be good) for him to feel good again and release the pressure. He will be really positive for us.”
And about the new Kieran Trippier understudy, Harrison Ashby?
“We think he’s a player that has huge potential. We wanted to bring in more strength on that side of the pitch.”
“Naturally, he needs time here to progress and develop. He’s got the ideal mentor in Kieran who will help him.”
Howe confirmed both Gordon and Harrison Ashby will be on tomorrow’s gameday squad. The gaffer shared a golden nugget that might offer a little clue about how much they will play—if at all—against West Ham.
“Both players will be available. They did a couple of individual sessions around the game and trained with the group yesterday.”
“It was a small group so they haven’t trained fully with the team but they’re fit and fine.”
Speaking about Alexander Isak’s availability for Saturday’s matchup after leaving the pitch concussed last Tuesday, Howe didn’t quite make things very clear.
“We’ve followed all the protocols. [Regarding] whether he’ll be available, I’m not sure.”
“Isak made a vital contribution in that moment. He was able to jump and block the free-kick but he took a blow to the side of the head and had very slight signs of a concussion.”
Worst-case scenario, the Magpies lose and still remain inside the top-4 teams of the season in the EPL table no matter what other squads do. Best-case-and-expected scenario, the Magpies win and stay in third position no matter what other squads do.
Feels good to live in a perennial race for a Champions League place while the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea spend billions and billions fighting for a top-10 finish, doesn’t it? Remember the times when we had that good old Big Six around... Nostalgia, Ultra.
- Date: Saturday, February 4th
- Kick-off: 17:30 BST / 12:30 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — UNIVERSO, Peacock, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, NBC, UNIVERSO NOW (USA) — BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, SKY GO Extra, Sky Ultra HD, Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League (UK)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.