Newcastle clinched a top-4 position in the Premier League after drawing their Monday game against Leicester 0-0 in what was the final time the Geordie faithful got to enjoy the lads kicking balls at St James’ Park.
It wasn’t the best result when taken out of context, but it was definitely one more than enough to earn the Magpies what they were after: the right to play in the 2023/24 edition of the UEFA Champions League next season.
Coincidentally, your superheroes will be visiting London on Sunday to face fallen “giants” Chelsea and departing Blue Boy-turned-manager Frank Lampard. The parallels between Newcastle and Chelsea are obvious (big-time spending) but the results both clubs have earned this season cannot be more diverging (one team is going places, and the other one is sitting just 10 points above relegation).
Chris Wood started in the reverse fixture against Chelsea. Jonjo Shelvey warmed up but ultimately sat on the bench. NUFC defeated CFC 1-0 back then. LOL.
Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media on Friday, a few days before the Magpies go on the road to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the final game of the Premier League season in a match scheduled for Sunday, May 28th.
How’s the Champions League hangover, Howe?
“I’m feeling good. It’s been a hectic few days.”
“For me, it’s onto planning and preparing for next season straight away. It’s an incredible achievement and I’m so pleased we were able to do it in front of our supporters.”
Quite the opening, gaffer. Howe was asked about his plans for the game against Chelsea on Sunday, the last one of the 2022/23 season and one in which there is nothing in play other than finishing third or fourth in the Premier League table, depending on the Magpies' result and Man Utd’s.
“I don’t think we’ve got anyone left to rest!”
“Joelinton and Manquillo will miss the game and we also have the other injuries.”
“The end of the season has come at a good time for us because we would have been really stretched.”
“We’re stretched but it will give us the chance to have a look at one or two other things.”
Howe also confirmed the absences of Joe Willock and Nick Pope. The latter’s was expected after he underwent surgery on his left hand earlier this week. The former’s not so much (not to that extent), but it’s reasonable considering this game means nothing to Newcastle.
️| Eddie Howe on NUFC in the Champions League: “It’s an amazing thing and we’re looking forward to it.” #NUFC pic.twitter.com/bEgNcF1t2m— NUFC360 (@NUFC360) May 26, 2023
Truth be told, even with a game still to be played, everybody including Howe is already thinking about the European atmosphere.
“We’re looking forward to it—to next season and the challenge.”
“We’ve started that preparation and when we get the draw and see who’s in our group, that’ll be when it really kicks in.”
This is only just the start, though, and Howe made that feeling clear when he was asked about this team leaving behind a legacy when all is said and done in a few years.
“I feel it’s too early for anyone to talk about legacy because I feel like we’ve just started.”
“You do your work, you commit to everything you’re trying to do and your legacy will take care of itself.”
Amid all of the transfer rumors one name in particular, one that is already under contract at Newcastle, has been kinda lost in the middle of it all: that of Garang Kuol.
“We’re really pleased he scored—we’re delighted for Kuol.”
“It’s been a tough loan spell for him but hopefully some real positivity to take into the summer.”
“It’s probably too early to be part of our first team picture next year and I think another loan spell will do him good as he continues to develop to the pace of this league.”
Don’t get that wrong, though. There will be transfers coming to and leaving Tyneside ahead of next season so get ready for a summer full of drama and saucy news arriving on a weekly basis!
“Maybe one or two players might move this summer but it’s very difficult to predict.”
“I think we have to keep the majority of the squad together—I think they’ve earned the right to do that, but we also have to be good in the transfer market.”
“I don’t see any [‘revolution’ impacting] maybe 95% of the squad. Maybe one or two players might move”.
“I want to keep Martin Dubravka, Matt Ritchie, Paul Dummett into the squad”.
Lampard debuted with a 4-0 defeat to Man Utd in his first spell on the bench of the London side. He nearly replicated that result last Thursday, falling 4-1 to the Red Devils in the second-to-last game of both teams’ campaigns.
Chelsea couldn’t count on Mason Mount, Reece James, and Ben Chilwell against Man Utd as they didn't return in time. Benoit Badiashile is out for the season, so don’t expect any miraculous appearance next Sunday from him, either.
One who returned to the pitch after missing the game before Thursday’s was Joao Felix, who also scored the lone game by the Blues at Old Trafford to save face a bit. N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Armando Broja, and Marc Cucurella also missed Chelsea’s last game as part of a never-ending list of banged-up players currently part of the soon-to-leave Lampard’s side.
- Date: Sunday, May 28th
- Kick-off: 16:30 BST / 11:30 EST
- Location: Stamford Bridge, London (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.