Howe: PSG trip 'a defining moment in our Champions League campaign'
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe believes Tuesday's Group F trip to Paris Saint-Germain is "a defining moment in our Champions League campaign".
United face Luis Enrique’s side, currently occupying top spot in Ligue 1, at the Parc des Princes (kick-off 8pm GMT) and will be requiring a positive result in order to continue their pursuit of progressing into the knockout stages of the star-studded competition.
The Magpies head into their penultimate Group F clash off the back of an impressive 4-1 win against Chelsea on Saturday and, ahead of facing PSG, Howe will be hopeful of replicating a similar performance to the reverse fixture against the French heavyweights - a 4-1 triumph at St. James’ Park in October.
The United boss also reflected on last weekend’s victory against the Blues, the Magpies’ fifth successive Premier League win at St. James’ Park, and praised the impact of a selection of Newcastle players, including Anthony Gordon, Nick Pope and Lewis Miley.
Here are some of the main talking point from Howe’s pre-match media briefing at the Parc des Princes on Monday evening:
On the squad morale ahead of Tuesday night’s clash in the French capital:
“The mood of the group is very good, especially after the result at the weekend. That was a pivotal moment for us because, again, it can be very easy to feel sorry for yourselves or to focus on the players that aren’t with us.
“The lads did incredibly well to blank that out and perform at a high level to win against a very good Chelsea side.”
On the decision to train at the Parc des Princes on the eve of the Magpies’ penultimate UEFA Champions Group F fixture:
“A change of feel and a different routine. You never know how these things affect your performances and the results, you can never guarantee.
“We’re looking on an improvement from our two away games (in the Champions League) so that’s why we’ve done what we’ve done today.
“Some players might want that or need that. For us, it gave us a little bit more recovery time at home so that may be important with the schedule we have."
“We are pretty much as we were at the weekend, but just with a few absentees who can’t play in the Champions League. Joe (Willock) is seeing a specialist tomorrow, we are still unsure on him.
“Sean (Longstaff) has not travelled."
On the challenge of facing Paris Saint-Germain, targeting a seventh consecutive home win across all competitions:
“They have quality in every position. Since we’ve played them, they have scored goals for fun so we will do our best defensively.
“Our structure in the team and defensive resilience has been good bar the Bournemouth game. We’re going to need to be every ounce as good as we can.
“It’s good to have all those mixture of emotions going into a match. We need to play on the edge. That is when we are at our best. They have quality in every position, we will need to be as good as we can be.
“We will need every ounce of motivation and energy to get a result. This is a defining moment in our Champions League campaign. We’re well aware of where we sit in the group and what can happen tomorrow so we are going to give it everything.”
On Anthony Gordon, who has netted five Premier League goals so far this term:
“He’s been in great form for us. When we signed him, we knew we were signing a player of huge potential with real ability and pace. I think he big thing for him is he’s been adding goals and assists.
“When you look at his last game, it was a brilliant goal he scored when he moved to the striker role. His cross for Jamaal Lascelles’ goal was the key moment which helped us secure three points.
“His work-rate off the ball has been at a really high level all through his time here but we really encourage him to keep adding those valuable goal contributions to us."
On Nick Pope, who has recorded seven clean sheets across all competitions so far this season:
“He’s been huge for us. He’s brought a real confidence to the backline. We’re lucky to have some very good goalkeepers at the football club and Nick is quite unique with his skillset.
“The save he made in the first half against Chelsea was outstanding, probably under highlighted in my mind until I saw it again how good it was. It’s those key moments, those big saves he’s made since he’s been here that have really elevated us as a team.
“He’s a very calm guy, very popular in the dressing room and a lot of fun to be around. On and off the pitch, I think he’s made a big contribution."
On Lewis Miley, who provided an assist on his full Premier League home debut against Chelsea last weekend:
“There is every chance he will be involved again. I think he is ready. He has a great temperament for these occasions.
“The thing I loved about him after the game on Saturday, he was just the same Lewi. It was as if he hadn’t done anything and it was just another game for him. That is how he would need to approach this game."