Craven Cottage gears up for an FA Cup fourth-round matchup between Fulham and Newcastle United on Saturday in a must-win game for the Magpies and Eddie Howe to keep lifting this sinking ship.
After narrowly advancing past Rotherham United and a recent loss in the Carabao Cup semi-finals, Fulham will be looking to bounce back in the only competition they can still win this season.
Newcastle, poorly managed by Howe this campaign albeit mostly because of suffering a gazillion injuries, find themselves in a similar position not fighting for anything other than the FA Cup after crashing out of the EFL Cup and the Champions League and closer to relegation than the no. 1 position in the Premier League table.
Fulham’s squad is impacted by the Africa Cup of Nations with players called up to represent their nation while Newcastle will have to grapple with significant absences, including the recently announced season-ending injury of midfielder Joelinton, as well as Sandro Tonali, Nick Pope, Elliot Anderson, Joe Willock, Harvey Barnes, Matt Targett, and Jacob Murphy.
Here are some of Howe’s Wisdom Nuggets, courtesy of NUFC.co.uk
On what he wants to see from his Newcastle side this weekend...
“We are hopeful you will see a very energetic performance, and a very technical one, because we have put a lot of work into that.
“We are determined to do well. I believe in this team.”
On Newcastle’s desire to progress in the FA Cup...
“It is a big moment in our season, as the Sunderland game was, and the lads really responded to that challenge. This is an important competition for us now, it takes on a new dynamic because of what’s gone before.
“We are desperate to get our best form back - I think there was signs of that against Sunderland and Manchester City - so we’ll take this game very seriously.”
On the Magpies’ injury and availability news...
“It’s still a long injury list. Jacob Murphy has trained and he has looked good, so I’m pleased with his progress. That is a big positive.
“Apart from that, no-one else is there - they’re all still working back to full fitness, but they are getting closer. The likes of Harvey (Barnes), Callum (Wilson) and Joe Willock are showing good signs.”
On the break from action over the last fortnight...
“I think we’ve had some really good training. I’ve enjoyed seeing the players perform these last couple of weeks - I think it’s been really healthy for us. They’re in good spirits, despite a lot of off-the-field stuff, and we’re very focused on the match.”
On Silva’s Fulham side...
“It’s a tough game - you look at the game against Liverpool they had a coupel of days ago and that was a really good game, a high-quality game. I thought Fulham were close - they created a number of chances and I thought were pretty good in the game.
“Marco has done a brilliant job. I think they continue to improve and grow, which is always very difficult in the league that we’re in, so we know it’ll be a tough game.”
On Joelinton, whose surgery was successful this week...
“It’s a massive blow for us. We knew when he did the injury wasn’t good.
“It is a massive blow for us - he brings a different dynamic to our field. He will be a big miss, but we are going to have to do without.”
- Date: Saturday, Jan. 27th
- Kick-off: 19:00 BST / 14:00 EST
- Location: Craven Cottage, London (England)