Newcastle United take on Liverpool at St James’ Park in Saturday afternoon’s early Premier League kick-off.
Jurgen Klopp’s men head to Tyneside on the back of their Champions League semi-final first leg victory against Unai Emery’s Villarreal on Wednesday.
The Magpies, however, will be looking to inflict a huge blow on their visitors’ Premier League title hopes. The Reds currently sit one point behind league leaders Manchester City.
Here’s everything Magpies boss Eddie Howe had to say on Liverpool, plus United’s hopes of challenging them for the Premier League title in the future:
How much would a good performance - or result - go to show the progress you’ve made?
“Thinking back to that game, I thought we did perform well. It was very close – I’m still frustrated by their first goal, which I don’t think should have stood at the time, and the third goal right at the end of the game was a great strike, but it made it look maybe more comfortable than it was for them that night.
“But we’re going need a similar display in terms of our resilience and work ethic, but I think we’re going to need to show a little bit more quality going the other way and test them as much as we can. We’re playing an outstanding team, probably one of the best in the world and it’s a great chance for us to see how far we’ve come.”
A lot of people seem to be saying that Newcastle are the one side who could have the biggest say over who wins the title - thoughts?
“It’s nice to hear, but the reality has to be shown on the pitch. We know that nothing but our best tomorrow – and I’d probably say better than we’ve delivered so far – will be good enough.
“I’ve watched Liverpool in depth for a long period of time and they’re just an incredible team. They have a way of winning games even when they’re not at their best, which is probably the hallmark of a great team, and when they’re at their best, they’re almost unstoppable.
“We don’t quite know what Liverpool we’ll face, but we have to concentrate on us. We have to be perfect defensively and we have to give them a threat the other way. We have to give them things to think about in an attacking sense. I think we have the players to do that, it’s just whether we can get out players at their very best levels.”
Isn’t it amazing that Liverpool are still chasing the quadruple at this stage in the season?
“It’s incredible for them. The thing that impresses me the most is their desire week in, week out to win games. When there are difficult moments potentially and the game’s in the balance, they always find the right answer.
“Teams line up in all sorts of different ways to try to combat their strengths and they still find a way. They’ve been relentless in their approach. Credit to them and their staff. But us at home with the crowd, that is some force and we have to bring that tomorrow.”
Can you challenge a team like Liverpool in the future?
“We hope to challenge them tomorrow. Beyond that is difficult to look at at the moment. I think we’re still very much in the thick of games, preparing for games. Everything is about our performance tomorrow. I’ve been pleased with the lads’ reaction. We had a good result last week, a good performance, but we’ve trained well off the back of that and we know with the games we have coming up that there can be no dropping of our standards because this league can be ruthless at times.”
Could Newcastle v Liverpool become a title decider in the future?
“Hopefully it is in the future. It’s very difficult to take yourself away from where we are right now, there’s no use or benefit me doing that. Hopefully, in the future, it is something we aspire to be. But at the moment, we are where we are and we need to try and compete and give our best.”
How long will it take for Newcastle to compete with Liverpool for the Premier League table?
“You won’t get a time out of me! My aim is to improve today to be better tomorrow.
“Of course I am looking and planning for the future, as you have to do in my position. But to give direct timescales on anything in football is almost impossible. I think the search is for improvement from day one and I continue to do that until someone tells me not to.”
The eyes of the world are on this game. How important is it that the team and supporters make an occasion of it and send message to potential future signings?
“We are used to that. A lot of the games we’ve had have been big occasions with televised attention. There is an expectation on us to give the best version of ourselves to the world every time we play. This is no different. I understand there is huge interest in the game and the media intensity, that is why we have to bring our best version. We will be demanding that and making sure the players execute everything we ask them to.”
You visited Liverpool when out of management, what did you take from it?
“I was very lucky to be able to go into Liverpool for a very brief time and meet some amazing people at the football club.
“Whenever you go and visit another club, there are always things you pick up. Here, there and everywhere around the world, I’ve been very lucky enough to see lots of different things and you take little bits from each one and try and then maybe mould that into your philosophy and how you see the game.
“It’s an incredible club and it was a great visit."
Jurgen Klopp plays ‘heavy metal’ football, is that what you’re hoping to play one day?
“If it brings the results he’s got then I’ll call it whatever you want. He’s done an incredible job and his style of football is very good to watch. I never get bored of watching Liverpool, they’re very intense, they do attack very well and press very well. I don’t think you ever get dull games with their teams and that’s credit to Jurgen and his coaching team. Taking elements of their game into ours would be very beneficial.”