It’s do-or-die time, folks.
There are only two Champions League places up for grabs and four teams fighting for them. Two squads have the upper hand in Newcastle and Man Utd as they are already into UCL positions and boasting a one-point lead over fifth-place Liverpool, with a game in hand on top of that.
There is, though, a very annoying pest lurking down in sixth place: Brighton with 58 points but two fewer games played than Pool and one fewer than both NUFC and ManU.
Newcastle will be, of course, hosting the last-minute bullies on Thursday coincidentally after they demolished Arsenal FC and destroyed the (minimal) chances the Gunners still had of lifting the EPL trophy.
The last time NUFC and BHA met they went on to put on a mediocre 0-0 show. They played each other on the second matchday of the season, which probably means nothing after more than nine months (seriously) has elapsed since then, managers have been sacked and hired, and multiple players signed and sold from and on both sides of this matchup.
Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media on Tuesday, hours before the Magpies host the Seagulls at St James’ Park in a game scheduled for Thursday, May 18th.
Final three games. Home stretch. Bright lights. Huge stakes. Eddie Howe is well aware and won’t relent.
“We’re after nine points. That’s how you have to be.”
“At the start of the season you’d have snapped somebody’s arm off for this opportunity. It’s in our hands and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Any secret to share about how to approach these final weeks of play?
“One of the things I’ve always used in pressured situations for the players is to keep things very simple, clear and to not overcomplicate things.”
“I think that’s really important in this moment, that you don’t radically try something because I think that can be a big mistake.
“I am very calm and stick to my belief and confidence in the squad.”
First stop: St James’ Park. Opponent: Brighton & Hove Albion. Bring it on, said Howe.
“It’s one we’re looking forward to.”
“It’s going to be a really good game between two excellent teams.”
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Brighton and what they’ve done this season and how they play.”
“It’s going to be a tough assignment for us but one, at home, we’re not fearful of.”
Newcastle will return to SJP for another back-to-back set of games played at home after going on the road and drawing 2-2 at Leeds last Saturday. The last time a good bunch of Geordies enjoyed the lads at home, though, they lost 0-2 to Arsenal. Will things change for the better on Thursday?
“Especially at home, it’s absolutely crucial that we try and involve the crowd and show them we’re in the game to perform.”
“It is important to show everyone how committed we are to success for the club. I think that’s really vital.”
It’s going to take a collective effort—fans, staff, and players—to get this W. Howe, though, is hella confident NUFC will reign supreme come Thursday evening.
“I know what we’ll get at St James’ Park tomorrow. We’ll get a United crowd.”
“Under lights, it’ll be an incredible atmosphere and an incredible feeling.”
Not the most promising news involving injured midfielder and Academy product Sean Longstaff, though.
“Longstaff won’t be involved in this game. He made good progress yesterday so let’s see how he feels today.”
“We’re quite clear on the injury—it’s just how long it takes to heal.”
Brighton, coming off a demolition of Arsenal FC, will visit Newcastle still without the services of Jakub Moder, Adam Webster, Solly March, Jeremy Sarmiento, Tariq Lamptey, and Adam Lallana available. The only potential good news manager Roberto De Zerbi might hear about before kick-off could involve defender Joel Veltman, who is still questionable to play but might be fit enough to appear for the Seagulls in some capacity come Thursday.
In a similar position is Julio Enciso, who was subbed off against Arsenal but whose change doesn’t really feel like worrying Brighton too much, with the lad most probably available to bring the fire to Tyneside. If available, Enciso is expected to start for the Seagulls at NUFC tomorrow.
- Date: Thursday, May 18th
- Kick-off: 19:30 BST / 14:30 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — nbcsports.com, NBC Sports App, USA Network (USA) — Sky Ultra HD, Sky Sports Premier League, TalkSport Radio UK, SKY GO Extra, Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
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