Everything Eddie Howe said on safety hopes, the ‘privilege’ of playing at St James’s Park and emulating a Sir Bobby Robson record ahead of clash with Crystal Palace
Newcastle United host Crystal Palace having won back-to-back Premier League games, knowing they could end the night having hit the 40-point mark.
However, in order to reach this milestone, they will have to defeat an impressive Patrick Vieira side that have stayed clear of any relegation danger throughout the campaign.
The Eagles come into the game on the back of FA Cup semi-final disappointment against Chelsea in what promises to be yet another hard-fought encounter at St James’s Park.
Here is everything Eddie Howe has said ahead of the clash with Crystal Palace:
It could be the first time since 2003/04 under Sir Bobby Robson that Newcastle have won six in a row at home, how would that feel to reach that goal?
“To do that would be an incredible thing for us. To do anything related to the name Sir Bobby Robson and to try and achieve one of his milestones would be brilliant for us.
“I think playing at home, as we’ve always said, is quite a unique thing, it’s a privilege to play in this stadium and the atmosphere that the supporters have created has been fantastic.
“I think if you look back at the last game, we needed their support. We didn’t have a lot of the ball in the second-half, it was a bit of a grind for us.
“Defensively we had to be really responsible and accept what was happening in the game and the supporters got that reward at the end with the goal which was a big thank you from us to them for sticking with us.”
Another win would take you to 40 points. There’s two matches this week, does it feel like a significant point in your season?
“Very much so, we know the importance of this week with two massive games to come for us. We’re very keen for us to hit the 40-point mark as quickly as possible.
“We know that nothing is a given and nothing is guaranteed in this league, the unpredictability of results, it’s that kind of league.
“We’d love to finish off this end of three home games with another win and the way the stadium looked and felt on Sunday was incredible with the flags before the game just the general atmosphere, it was a privilege to play in.”
Can you focus on looking up the table rather than down with the 40-point total in your sights?
“It’s a difficult one to even talk about focussing on different things, I just want them to focus on Crystal Palace and being the best we can be in this game - that’s their only focus rather than the points total.”
Does a night game at St James’s Park feel different and how do you prepare for night games?
“In terms of preparation, we will train in the morning of the game, the players will go home, have a rest and then come back to the stadium - so that’s how we do it on a matchday.
“I really, really enjoy the night games. I enjoyed them as a player, I enjoy them as a manager and I certainly enjoy them here because of the atmosphere.
“I think night games just have a different feel about them.
“There’s a slightly wetter pitch as well, if you look at Sunday the pitch was quite dry and it was difficult to play but the night games give you that slightly different buzz so we are really looking forward to it.”
Sometimes the club have struggled with the expectation from the crowd but it seems that it’s something the players are responding to?
“At the moment it’s a good place for us. The balance between wanting to win every game and competing to not only try and win but entertain and try and play a style of football that everyone wants to see.
“I’ve said all along that we’re building towards that, we’re not there yet, we’re at the very early stages of trying to build our style.
“But the most important thing for us at the moment is that the supporters see us giving everything to try and achieve a positive result.
“I think by and large we have done that on a consistent basis, the challenge for us between now and the end of the season is maintain and build on that and I want that to be the hallmark of the team.”
What sort of shape do you think Crystal Palace will be in after disappointment at Wembley?
“I think they’ll be fine. They’ve had a very, very good season. Obviously they will be disappointed to go out in the semi-final after getting so close.
“But Patrick Vieira has done an incredible job there, I think his players have really embraced him and what he wants to do with the team and how he wants to play.
“They’ve had an excellent season so we’re expecting a very tough game.”
What do you want to see from your players in terms of a performance?
“I think we want to see the same intensity that we played with, the same desire to win that was highlighted by our winning goal.
“We want that defensive resilience that we showed throughout the game but we do want a little more control and see us express ourselves with the ball more.
“There were certain moments in the game where I think we didn’t do that well enough last game, but that’s something we’re working towards and something I’d love to see with the same outcome.”