Eddie Howe has said this weekend’s game with Arsenal will be a big test of Newcastle’s credentials this season.
Newcastle host Arsenal at St James’ Park on Saturday evening as the Magpies look to build momentum from an impressive win at Manchester United in midweek. Howe’s side are sixth in the Premier League table, ahead of facing an Arsenal side who remain unbeaten after 10 games.
Arsenal pushed Manchester City close in the Premier League title race last season, before faltering during the run-in to end the campaign as runners-up.
Howe believes the Gunners have moved on from that disappointment and says this weekend’s game will be a major examination of Newcastle’s ability to compete this season.
“Arsenal last year, it speaks for itself what they achieved,” Howe said at his pre-match press conference.
“I think they have moved on from last year, mentally moved on and stepped it up. They are unbeaten, it is a really big test of our credentials.
“We are going to have to find ways to make it very difficult for them but we are looking forward to the game.”
Newcastle eased into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals after thrashing Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford this week and Howe admits the performance has lifted his squad.
“It was great to be able to give everyone an opportunity and I thought they responded magnificently.
“It was a brilliant team effort. I thought the spirit, determination and collective mindset was at the highest level.
“We are in a good place mentally after the win. The whole squad will be lifted by that performance.”
Joe Willock scored his first goal of the season against the Red Devils after an injury lay-off. The midfielder will face his former team this weekend and Howe is delighted to have 24-year-old available for selection.
“I think Joe deserves a lot of credit for his performance because his athleticism, his speed and his general game was there after a long absence. He was making runs from the first minute. He is a huge player for us, I am so glad he scored. That would have done him the world of good.”
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