Eddie Howe’s squad put three goals past Brendan Rodgers’ team back on Dec. 26th beating Leicester at their ground 3-0 in a no-contest outing in which the Magpies didn’t dominate possession (40-60) but were pinpoint accurate when it came to put the ball on the back of the net.
Just a few days later, on Jan. 10th, both clubs met again in a Carabao Cup quarter-final clash that saw Newcastle host and defeat Leicester 2-0 on their way to what would end up being a runner-up EFL campaign for Howe’s boys in a run only stopped by Man Utd in the final game of the competition earlier this year.
Newcastle will welcome Leicester for a final time this season—and who knows for how long, considering the Foxes' precarious position in the standings—trying to complete a sweep while also clinching a top-4 position once and for all to play in the Champions League next season... as Leicester try to get at least one point that keeps them alive and gives them some more chances of still avoiding relegation entering MD38.
Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media on Friday, a few days before the Magpies host the Foxes at St James’ Park for the final home game of NUFC this season in a match scheduled for Monday, May 22nd.
With Howe speaking to the media following the 4-1 trouncing of Brighton, emotions were still running high and the gaffer let everybody knew about how help liked that outing and what to expect come Monday, with the last game played at SJP this season.
“We’ll want the same again. I’ve got no doubt the crowd will be there for us.”
“We really have to take the good feeling from Brighton and the confidence that game should give us but then forget it and focus purely on a totally different game.”
“Tactically, it will be totally different but we have to be ready for a tough match.”
Reviewing Thursday’s victory over the Seagulls, Howe praised Callum Wilson and his superb form, assisting one goal and scoring another against Brighton.
“I’d say he’s performing at the best level I’ve ever seen him at.”
“I complimented him [on Thursday] not in terms of the goal he scored but his intelligence on the press for us.”
“Wilson is the one that has to set the chain off and has to get it right—otherwise the team suffers. I thought his tactical understanding was as good as I’ve seen.”
Moving on to Leicester, Monday’s opponent, Howe was asked about their fall from grace since they reigned supreme and won the Premier League back in the 2015/16 season. Newcastle has followed a similar ascension to the one Leicester achieved a few years ago, but the Magpies will definitely not want to replicate what came next for the Foxes, who have faced the ghosts of relegation all season long and look destined to drop down to the Championship.
“It can happen to any team in any season. Things can sometimes conspire against you. Leicester have some outstanding individuals and are a really strong team when you look at it as a whole.”
“I’m not going to talk about Leicester’s reasons for being in the position that they’re in currently. All I know is I know their qualities. Dean Smith is an outstanding manager.”
The worst possible news on the injury front was confirmed by Howe: Joe Willock is done for the season, and Sean Longstaff might follow him with just two games remaining and his status for Monday labeled “doubtful.”
“We’ve got a few concerns (including Joelinton, who Howe didn’t mentioned by name but is questionable for Monday’s game). The lads gave so much to the game [on Thursday] and they’ve given a lot to the season physically. I hope there’s no serious effects.”
“It looks like Joe Willock may be in trouble with his hamstring and we might lose him for the rest of the season—but that’s unclear as I sit here now. Fingers crossed, our team will still be strong.”
“At this moment, Sean Longstaff is doubtful. He hasn’t trained. He’s improving but we’ll wait and see.”
One possible and kinda-natural replacement for Willock could be Academy product Elliot Anderson, who has been left out of the pitch for nearly all of the season after looking like a capable member of the first-team rotation in the summer.
“Anderson has trained consistently throughout the season. It’s very difficult for those lads that haven’t played regularly and when the team wins consistently, to wait for their chance. He’s a young player that’s been desperate to play.”
“He’s controlled his emotions really well and I do believe he’s added elements and improved certain parts of his game that needed to improve. I’d say he’s ready.
Leicester might welcome back a couple of important players to their squad and throw them into the ring of fire on Monday with Kelechi Iheanacho and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall ready to make a return. Iheanacho has missed every game since he injured his groin back on Apr. 25th while KDH has been out for a couple of weeks (May 8th) with an ankle injury.
In other, more worrying news for the Foxes, defender Caglar Soyuncu Caglar Soyuncu is unlikely to recover in time for the trip to St James’ Park. It’s been reported that Soyuncu has already trained a bit but only by himself and without the collective group, so barring a huge surprise he shouldn’t feature on Monday and instead see his comeback delayed for a week and into the final matchday of the season.
- Date: Monday, May 22nd
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST / 15:00 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — nbcsports.com, SiriusXM FC, NBC Sports App, USA Network (USA) — Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Ultra HD, SKY GO Extra, Sky Sports Premier League, TalkSport Radio UK (UK)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.