Just three days after dealing with Manchester United and inflicting a damaging 2-0 defeat on the Red Devils, Newcastle will be moving down the country to arrive in London and face West Ham on Wednesday evening.
It was a lovely return from the international break for the Magpies, as nearly everybody was available for Eddie How to play—barring the long-term-injured Miggy—and the lads defended St James’ Park once again while avenging their Carabao Cup defeat to the bitchy Erik ten Hag and his men.
Football doesn’t stop, though, and this week comes packed full of Premier League clashes starting today with four games and continuing tomorrow with two more including this little NUFC vs. West Ham at the London Stadium in the English capital, with Newcastle’s next league matchup scheduled for Saturday.
West Ham might not be sitting pretty in the Premier League table with just 27 points through their 27 games played and David Moyes having a feet-and-a-half into the sacking waters, but the truth is that the Hammers are coming off back-to-back victories in their last two games sandwiching the break (one in the Conference League, one in the Premier League) so this won’t by any means be an easy game for your Magpie superheroes.
Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media on Tuesday, ahead of the matchup against Man Utd at St James’ Park scheduled for Wednesday, April 5th.
After defeating the visiting Man Utd at SJP last Sunday and having lost only to Man City and Liverpool in home games this season, Eddie Howe spoke highly about does it mean to play at St James’ Park without taking anything from games played on the road, either:
“We love playing at home and our results there have been good.”
“Our results on the road have been pretty consistent as well. We’re going to need to take points in this spell so we know what’s ahead.”
Howe was asked about the whole “time-wasting” narrative that Manchester United brought to the forefront ahead of the Carabao Cup final only for them to eat humble pie last Sunday:
“I think our first intention is to always play the game and we want, as I said after the game, the ball in play.”
“I encourage my players all the time to get the ball back in play very quickly. We want to play at a high tempo and want to wear teams down physically.”
“That goes against what was said about us. Of course, there’s been times in games where we have to manage the game. We have to use experience, we have to do whatever we can to get a positive result. I’m not saying we won’t do that either. But certainly, that’s not our first intention.”
Will West Ham make for a difficult challenge compared to Manchester United? Will Newcastle need to have the same intensity against the Hammers?
“Yeah, I think we need to deliver that. It’s going to be a really difficult game.”
“West Ham are a very good team who had a slightly different season with Europe and all the games that they’ve played.”
“I think they’ve got an outstanding manager with vast experience and I thought they recruited really well in the summer.”
“They’ve got a strong squad so we’re going to need a physical performance, another good technical and tactical performance.
The gaffer had wonderful words for the good gents and the city of Newcastle upon Tyne:
“The city and the club has got under my skin.”
“I definitely feel at home here in Newcastle. I feel at home in the area, with the people, and I definitely feel at home at the football club.”
“I think this is a very special place.”
So, what will the lads try to accomplish through the remainder of the season?
“For me, the aim is to beat West Ham and see where we go after that.”
“I haven’t set a year-end target because I don’t think that helps us. It’s very much game by game and see where it takes us.”
That said, Howe didn’t rule out a top-4 finish and a strong push toward the top places through the remainder of the campaign:
“We’re on a mission to win and be the best we can be.”
“I can sense from the players that there’s a real inner determination about us that we’re not here to waste time. We need that to continue till the end of the season.”
Howe praised Allan Saint-Maximin, who keeps getting start after start and contributing to Newcastle’s victories with plays such as his assist last Sunday:
“I thought ASM gave a really good all-round performance on Sunday. He’s a natural dribbler, everyone knows that, but his decision making of when to dribble and when to pass was very good.”
“He got an assist so the end product was there and defensively he was diligent so I am delighted with him.”
Another player that has been key in a new role for the Magpies through the past few weeks is Callum Wilson, now a reserve in most matches after Howe turned the page on him betting on starting Alexander Isak up front instead:
“It’s important for Callum that he scored. I saw him during the international break put in a really good shift to get back to his best condition.”
“Wilson trained really well so I had no hesitation in backing him and knowing the goals will come.”
One more reserve that should get more and more playing time going forward is Anthony Gordon, who Howe also discussed in his presser:
“Gordon is in a much better place now. He used the international break to get his ankle right. He came back ahead of schedule so really pleased with that.”
“He’s got a brilliant mentality and I think he’s a top player in the making.”
Howe was asked about potential injuries affecting his players, and Joe Willock in particular—he suffered an injury scare against Man Utd and is doubtful to play on Wednesday:
“I haven’t seen [Willock] this morning so I’ll probably have to tell you later. I’ve not seen him so it’s too early.”
“Other than that, I think we’re reasonably okay.”
“There’s a few tired bodies in the squad. It was a really big, physical effort for us in the game (vs. ManU). Hopefully nothing too major.”
Staying with Willock, the discussion about his chances (and Sean Longstaff’s) to receive a call from England manager Gareth Southgate emerged and popped up in the press conference:
“I wouldn’t necessarily push Gareth in that way because I wouldn’t want that done to me.”
“Just speaking about both players, I think they’ve been very consistent this season and that’s probably been their hallmark.”
“Physically and athletically, they’re very strong players. Tactically, they’ve been very good for me. They play in key positions in the team so they need to have a high understanding of the game. Off the ball, they’ve been really good.”
“I can’t speak highly enough of both. Joe has started to score goals, which I think is very much in his games. If you look at the amount of times we cross the ball, the times he’s in the box... On one of those occasions, thankfully the ball went to him on Sunday and he scored a massive goal for us. Can’t speak highly enough of them both.”
When it comes to West Ham team news, the Hammers welcomed goalie Kulasz Fabianski back last weekend and he was good to keep a clean sheet in WHU’s 1-0 victory over Soton. Forward Gianluca Scamacca is doubtful to play while he recovers from a banged-up knee while Danny Ings is slotted as the main replacement for the striker if he misses this one.
Bouncy performer Lucas Paqueta should start in the middle to battle fellow Brazilian Bruno—the good one of these two.
- Date: Wednesday, April 5th
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST / 15:00 EST
- Location: London Stadium, London (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — nbcsports.com, NBC Sports App, USA Network (USA) — SKY GO Extra, Sky Ultra HD, Sky Sports Premier League, Talksport 2 Radio UK, Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.