Manchester City, the reigning Premier League champions, are set to face Newcastle United at St James’ Park, aiming to close their five-point gap from league leaders Liverpool while their hosts will try to bridge the 11-point gap between their current place and the top four in the EPL.
Newcastle, sitting ninth, is eleven points behind third-placed City and Arsenal, both with 40 points to NUFC’s 29-point tally throughout the first 20 games of the season.
Following a disastrous end to 2023 and an early 2024 defeat to Liverpool, the Magpies at least bounced back with a 3-0 FA Cup derby victory over Sunderland last weekend. However, Newcastle must do everything in their power to improve their Premier League results during the second half of the campaign to clinch a Europa League berth by season’s end.
Newcastle could potentially drop 14 points behind the top four in what would mark their 10th defeat of the year if they lose to Pep Guardiola’s men at home. For context, NUFC lost five games all season long last campaign, a league-best figure tied with Man City’s losses over the 2022/24 season.
Howe will have to do without Joe Willock—who is seemingly going to take a bit longer than expected to make his comeback—as well as Callum Wilson, Matt Targett, Nick Pope, Jacob Murphy, Harvey Barnes, Elliot Anderson, Joelinton, and Javi Manquillo.
For the Baby-Blue Mancunians, John Stones and Erling Haaland were ruled out on Friday while Manuel Akanji, Bernardo Silva, and Kalvin Phillips will probably be game-time decisions.
Newcastle enters Saturday having won just one of their last six EPL games while City has not been much better, winning three of six and drawing two in that same span.
Here are some of Howe’s Wisdom Nuggets, courtesy of NUFC.co.uk
On Manchester City and Guardiola...
“They are the team to beat. Their record in recent seasons has been incredible.
“They have the best manager in the world, their style of play is difficult to combat, but I believe we can really compete in this game.”
On Joelinton’s injury setback...
“It isn’t good. It is an injury that will see him miss a minimum of six weeks.
“It is a real blow for us. He is such an important player. He has a problem with his tendon in his quad. He is very disappointed, he wants to play and do well - we have had to try and pick him up. He is our midfield driving force. It is a big blow.”
On Fabian Schar, who extended his United contract earlier this week...
“He is very confident without being arrogant - he believes in himself. He is the same as a person - he is a great guy and I have built a great relationship with him.
“He is very intelligent, and I think his intelligence comes across on the pitch. He makes very good decisions; he is technically outstanding. Fabian deserves this new deal and hopefully it’s a start of another good period for him.”
On getting to 650 games in management, a milestone he will reach on Saturday...
“I have a little smile when I hear that number because it is a lot of games. It feels like it has gone by in a flash - it certainly doesn’t feel like that many.
“I remember when I started in management, everyone talked about my age and how inexperienced I was. In the end, I got tired of those questions. So now it is the other way around.”
- Date: Saturday, Jan. 13th
- Kick-off: 17:30 BST / 12:30 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)