Mikel Merino reveals how Newcastle will tackle the Premier League leaders

Mikel Merino says Newcastle United are full of 'belief' ahead of their visit to the Etihad Stadium.

Friday, 19th January 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 19th January 2018, 8:40 am
Children dance with Newcastle star Mikel Moreno as part of the Super Movers campaign at Choppington Primary School in Morpeth (Pic: Ian Horrocks/Premier League)

Rafa Benitez’s side take on Premier League leaders Manchester City tomorrow evening in a televised game.

City – who have a 12-point lead at the top of the division – were beaten in the league for the first time by Liverpool last weekend.

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And Merino – who yesterday visited a Northumberland school to encourage pupils to be more active – believes he and his team-mates, beaten 1-0 by Pep Guardiola’s side late last month, can get a result at the Etihad Stadium.

“Every match is different, but the way they lost the last game, and they almost tied against us at St James’s Park, makes us believe a little bit more about the possibilities,” said Merino.

“It’s such a big game against such a big club and such a big team. It doesn’t matter really the dynamic they have, we’ll approach it in the same way.

“It’s going to be a really big game for us. We’re going to try to win all three points, and we have the clues of how to do it.”

Mikel Merino celebrates his goal

Merino is relishing facing a team managed by Guardiola, his Spanish countryman.

The 21-year-old is also looking forward to going up against midfielder David Silva.

“They are two of the most important football icons in Spain,” said Merino. “So, for me, it’ll be a great match.

“To see these kinds of players and managers play and coach is amazing. I’m going to try to do my best if I have the luck to play, and then we’ll see what happens.”

Mikel Merino celebrates his goal

Benitez’s players were forced to train indoors yesterday because of the snow.

“It’s different training indoors than outside,” said Merino. “But the main thing is that we’re focused on the game. It doesn’t matter on which pitch you train, the focus is the same.”

Merino visited Choppington Primary School for the Super Movers campaign, a Premier League and BBC initiative aimed at inspiring children to be more active during the school day.

The event was supported by the Newcastle United Foundation.

Merino took part in a question and answer session and also danced with pupils, who were taking part in a live nationwide lesson.

“I had fun,” said Merino. “It’s always really fun to dance with the kids.

“The movement they are trying to create with this project is amazing.

“I think it’s a great idea for the kids to be active, to move and to be fit.

“This is great, I support it, I think it’s a really good thing for them because they can study at the same time they have fun and this is the most important thing.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Under-18s take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park tonight in a fourth-round FA Youth Cup tie (7pm kick-off).

Newcastle Under-23s won 4-0 at Burnley in the Premier League Cup yesterday, with Luke Charman and Dan Barlaser both netting twice.