Lejeune eyeing another vital victory
Written by Tom Easterby
Defender Florian Lejeune insists Saturday’s game against AFC Bournemouth is just as important as their last Premier League clash at home to Manchester United.
Matt Ritchie’s strike gave the Magpies a vital victory at St. James’ Park last time out, and now Rafa Benítez’s side travel to the south coast to face the Cherries knowing a win would see them leapfrog their tenth-placed opponents.
And French centre back Lejeune says following the fine result against the Red Devils with a similarly resolute display at Bournemouth is of great importance to United.
“This game against Bournemouth is as important as the Manchester United game for us,” the 26-year-old told NUFC TV. “We want to put in good performances and keep performing really well. We are determined to get as many points as we can.
“Every match is different – the teams, the players are different. They are our direct opponents so it’s important for us in the league.
“What motivates us is the fact that we can beat our direct opponent, and also we’d like it to be as much of a win as the one against Manchester United.”
Lejeune, who played his first game after almost two months out against Manchester United, added: “It means a lot, especially in terms of the league table. Prior to that game against Manchester United, we were in the relegation zone which we’re now out of. It also meant a lot to us as we won at home. It has given us a lot of confidence.
“All is well. We are very happy with our performance against Manchester United. We are a good team who are constantly improving and training hard, so moving forward it should all be very good.”
In the reverse fixture at St. James’ Park in November, Steve Cook’s last-gasp header gave the visitors all three points.
But summer signing Lejeune feels United have progressed as a team since then – and, having made an impressive return from injury a fortnight ago, he says he’s ready for a challenging few weeks.
“We are a young team, but I think we’ve made excellent progress, bearing in mind as a young team we’ve had to adapt to Premier League games,” he said. “We’ve been discovering the league, and we’ve lost points on minor details – especially against Bournemouth, when they scored in the 91st minute. However, I think we’re now more mature, having played a lot more.
“Of course I’m ready – definitely. Everybody is working and training really hard, but also as a team as well.”