Afcon updates, Tottenham v Arsenal in doubt and more – as it happened
Right, that’s all from me. Stay tuned to Guardian Sport for the minute-by-minute report on Brighton v Crystal Palace at 8pm. Thanks for reading. Bye.
Full-time in the 4pm Afcon games
- Morocco 2-0 Comoros – Morocco are into the last 16 in a mismatch that could have been double figures if not for the inspired goalkeeping of Ben Boina (who plays in the French third tier!).
- Malawi 2-1 Zimbabwe – Two-goal hero Gabadinho Mhango completes a comeback win to keep his side in contention for qualification and send Zimbabwe tumbling out.
Updated at 5.55pm GMT
Goal! Morocco 2-0 Comoros (Aboukhlal 90)
Ben Boina is finally beaten for a second time. With Comoros’s defence all over the place, Zakaria Aboukhlal takes a touch and slots past the inspired Comoros goalkeeper to take Morocco into the knockout stage.
Wow! Ben Boina has now gone and saved a penalty! He’s kept his team in the game at 1-0 with an outrageous performance. He’s a one-man rock and will be man of the match whether his team loses or not. If Comoros nick an equaliser he should get the assist.
The Comoros goalkeeper, Salim Ben Boina, has just made an incredible triple save. He was all on his own and somehow kept the ball out even when the ball was stabbed a third time at him from around 30cm out. Think Jerzy Dudek v Andriy Shevchenko in 2005.
Newcastle’s £25m man, Chris Wood, is set to start against Watford tomorrow. His hold-up play alone has got to be good news for Allan Saint-Maximin, who should be able to buzz around his big strike partner.
Related: Newcastle v Watford: match preview
Updated at 6.09pm GMT
Erm, the UK’s future prime minister?
Updated at 5.30pm GMT
Goal! Malawi 2-1 Zimbabwe (Mhango 58)
It’s that man again! And it’s another lovely finish from the zippy forward, who stabs a pass through only to burst through on to it himself and then lift the ball over the Zimbabwe goalkeeper with a delicate dink. He’s turned the game around on his own.
Morocco should be about 7-0 up against Comoros but are finding new and interesting ways to spurn goalscoring opportunities. Meanwhile, Malawi v Zimbabwe is still 1-1 with both sides creating chances in a wonderfully open game.
After a wretched start to the season, remarkably, Manchester City are back in contention for the WSL title. Here’s Louise Taylor with the story:
It’s Fiver o’clock!
It’s half-time in the 4pm Afcon games , with the scores Morocco 1-0 Comoros and Malawi 1-1 Zimbabwe. In the latter game, there was a wonderful celebratory dance after Wadi’s headed goal for Zimbabwe. Here’s a clip of it:
Updated at 4.57pm GMT
Back in the Premier League, Pep Guardiola has been heaping praise on Chelsea counterpart Thomas Tuchel, who, he says, he has studied to improve his own managerial skillset:
He is so creative, one of the few managers I learn from to become a better manager myself. He is excellent in all departments. Since he was at Mainz, Borussia Dortmund and here, I have always enjoyed watching his teams, the way he is playing and his approach. I think he dignifies and makes world football better. When you find a manager that is always positive in the way they play it is good.
And here’s our match preview:
Goal! Malawi 1-1 Zimbabwe (Mhango 43)
A swift response! Zimbabwe fail to deal with a deep cross and Mhango, unmarked on the back post, makes a guided half-volley finish look easier then it actually is.
Goal! Malawi 0-1 Zimbabwe (Wadi 38)
It’s a big goal in Group B, with Wadi’s towering header from 15 yards out sparking a wonderful celebratory group dance in the corner of the stadium.
There’s no score in Malawi v Zimbabwe but it’s a more entertaining match than Morocco v Comoros , which is a possession-fest for Romain Saïss and co, who are far superior.
I gave my confidence a boost by getting 11 out of 12 on this quiz of the week. See if you can make yourself better by giving it a go here:
You can read our match preview for Aston Villa v Manchester United here , while Steven Pye has jumped in his time machine to take us back to 1989 and a time when Alex Ferguson took a United team in a far worse state than Ralf Rangnick’s to Villa Park. It didn’t go well, with United’s own fans chanting “What a load of rubbish” at their side from the away end. You can read the full piece here:
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has confirmed that both Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne are available to face Manchester United though he won’t rush them into action.
They’re available. Philippe’s trained for three days now with no issues. We obviously have to build his match sharpness and match fitness up. Lucas is slightly different. He’s been involved in group training for quite some time and he’s been available for Everton before he arrived … they’re both in a good place but, obviously, decisions will come off the back of information we’ve had of both players over the last couple of days.
Goal! Morocco 1-0 Comoros (Amallah 16)
Selim Amallah picks a loose ball up in the Comoros penalty area, drops his shoulder to send a defender the wrong way and smashes the ball home from 10 yards.
Updated at 4.19pm GMT
Malawi v Zimbabwe and Morocco v Comoros have kicked off in the Africa Cup of Nations. I’ll bring you goal updates from those matches. Having won their first match, Morocco can all but secure qualification from Group C with victory while Malawi and Zimbabwe are looking to get their first points on the board in Group B.
Afternoon! Thanks Luke. Let’s start by tipping our hat to Crystal Palace, who have offered to subsidise the coach travel for Hartlepool fan s faced with the long schlep down to Selhurst Park for their FA Cup fourth round tie on 5 February. Here’s Hartlepool’s chief operating officer, Stephen Hobin.
This is an extremely generous offer which has allowed us to only charge £12.50 for supporters who book a seat on one of our Official Coaches from the North East to London … This kind of gesture restores your faith in the football family and we are all very much looking forward to what will be a very special occasion for the many thousands of Poolies who will make the trip south. Thanks once again to all at Crystal Palace FC.
And that’s all from me. I will leave you in the capable hands of Gregg Bakowski.
Derby’s administrators have been asked to provide a funding plan to the EFL to demonstrate how the club can fulfil their fixtures through to the end of the season. The Rams entered administration last September and are yet to find a buyer. Their financial problems have led to them being docked 21 points and they are 11 points from safety in the Championship. Derby confirmed on Friday that veteran defender Phil Jagielka, one of their best performers this season, has left the club, who are now effectively under an embargo on signing or registering players until the EFL is shown evidence of how any new deals would be funded.
The EFL said in a statement: “Following its board meeting on Thursday, January 13, the EFL has written to the administrators reiterating that it needs confirmation as a matter of urgency of how they intend to trade whilst Derby County remains in administration, including a funding plan that will enable the club to fulfil its fixture obligations until the end of the current season. Without this visibility the league is unable to approve any player signings or renew existing registrations and this position had been communicated to the club prior to yesterday’s meeting.”
The supporters’ group, The Rams Trust, released a statement saying it was “shocked and dismayed” by Jagielka’s departure and added: “The time for supporters to be kept in the dark is over, especially with what seems to be a dire threat to the very existence of Derby County FC.”
The Trust also said administrator Carl Jackson would provide an update to supporters later on Friday. There are reportedly two separate parties interested in buying Derby - former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, and another consortium headed by former club chairman Andy Appleby. (PA Media)
Updated at 3.48pm GMT
Allegri says Dybala’s value to Juventus is ‘beyond dispute’:
The Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said Paulo Dybala’s value to the club is beyond dispute, but refused to be drawn on whether the Argentinian forward would sign a new contract in Turin. Dybala, who has scored six goals in Serie A this season, is yet to sign a new contract at Juventus, with his current deal due to expire at the end of the season. He is free to agree a pre-contract agreement with teams outside of Italy, with widespread reports in the Italian media linking Dybala with a move to the English Premier League.
“As I have always said, I do not evaluate contracts, they are corporate matters,” Allegri told a news conference on Friday ahead of his side’s clash with Udinese. “I helped to raise Dybala. He came from Palermo when he was a child. Now he has grown up and is an extraordinary player. In the first part of the season we had less of him through injury and now in the second part I expect a lot from him in his performances. The value of Dybala is beyond dispute, Paulo is a great player.”
Ahead of Saturday’s clash with Udinese, Juve sit fifth in Serie A, 11 points behind leaders Internazionale having played one game more - a gap Allegri is not confident of overhauling. “Inter are the strongest team in the league at the moment, next year we will see because Juve is never dead,” Allegri added. “Tomorrow we face a physical team that defends well, it will take a lot of patience. We have to be very technical and we have to try to win to reverse our poorer record against the smaller teams.”
Allegri also revealed Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci will miss Saturday’s match after sustaining a muscle injury. (Reuters)
Updated at 3.42pm GMT
West Ham hope to have Tomas Soucek back for the visit of Leeds. The Czech midfielder Soucek missed the midweek win over Norwich after a positive Covid-19 test. Defender Kurt Zouma is back in training quicker than expected after a hamstring injury and will be assessed.
“Look, when you play Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday, you’re always liable to pick up more injuries ... We have to deal with it, we have to move on and do the best we can,” the West Ham manager David Moyes said of the injuries and Covid-19 cases which are hampering his squad.
Patrick Bamford, Rodrigo and Pascal Struijk are hoping to return to contention as Leeds’s injury crisis shows signs of easing. Bamford has been sidelined with ankle and hip injuries, while Rodrigo (heel) and Struijk (foot) have been out since the end of November. Eight other first-team players, including Kalvin Phillips and skipper Liam Cooper (both hamstring), are definitely out, with Diego Llorente and Tyler Roberts both suspended. The latter is also nursing a calf strain.
Speaking of Norwich – here is the match preview for their match at home against Everton, which is one of tomorrow’s 3pm kick-offs:
Related: Norwich v Everton: match preview
Thank you Barry, and good afternoon all.
Norwich City have announced that their former manager, Laurence Morgan, has died at the age of 90:
That’s all from me. Luke McLaughlin will guide you through the rest of the day’s news. Have a great weekend.
Wolves v Southampton: Wolves will be without Romain Saiss for their Premier League match against Southampton at Molineux. The defender is on international duty with Morocco at the Africa Cup of Nations and will be absent for Saturday’s match as well as the club’s trip to Brentford next weekend.
Hwang Hee-chan returned to training this week following a hamstring injury, but Saturday’s game is likely to come to soon for the South Korea international. Willy Boly (calf), Jonny Castro Otto (knee), Yerson Mosquera (hamstring) and Pedro Neto (knee) all remain sidelined.
Southampton have defenders Yan Valery and Kyle Walker-Peters available again as they return from suspension and Covid respectly. Midfielder Moi Elyounoussi and forward Theo Walcott continue to recover from their own coronavirus issues. Moussa Djenepo is on international duty with Mali at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Tino Livramento (knee), Will Smallbone (calf) and Alex McCarthy (hamstring) are also unavailable.
Full time: Senegal 0-0 Guinea
Africa Cup of Nations: It’s finished scoreless between the sides at the Kouekong Stadium, with both sides taking a major step towards the knockout stages. Senegal dominated for a 10-minute spell during the second half but towards the end of the game it became apparent that both sides were happy with a point apiece that leaves them with four each after two games.
West Ham v Leeds United: Leeds’ injury crisis appears to be easing as Patrick Bamford, Rodrigo and Pascal Struijk are all hoping to return from injury in Sunday’s Premier League game at West Ham, say PA Sport.
Bamford has been restricted to six league appearances this season due to ankle and hip problems, while Rodrigo and Struijk have been sidelined with respective heel and foot injuries.
Leeds’ injury list has reached double figures in recent weeks and when asked who might be back on Sunday, boss Marcelo Bielsa said: “It’s probable that Pascal, Rodrigo and Bamford are options to return.”
Bielsa will still be without eight injured or suspended players at the London Stadium, but Bamford’s return in particular will be a major boost to their top-flight survival chances.
Kalvin Phillips and skipper Liam Cooper (both hamstring) have been out since early December, while Joe Gelhardt, Jamie Shackleton (both ankle), Charlie Cresswell (shoulder) and Sam Greenwood all remain sidelined. Diego Llorente and Tyler Roberts will both miss out at West Ham through suspension, but the latter is also nursing a calf strain.
Tottenham v Arsenal: Arsenal and the Premier League are in discussions regarding whether Sunday’s north London derby will go ahead, with Mikel Arteta’s side heavily affected by injuries, absentees at Afcon and Covid-19, reports Nick Ames.
Tottenham v Arsenal: Tottenham boss Antonio Conte said they have to check on one possible case of Covid-19 ahead of the north London derby on Sunday. The concern adds to a notable list of absences with Eric Dier and Son Heung-min definitely out injured for the home game against Arsenal, who are experiencing a player shortage of their own.
“As you know very well, we have many, many injuries,” said Conte. “And then there is always the Covid situation every day, that you have to check. Sometimes you find a surprise.
“But we are preparing the game against Arsenal. I think in this moment, all the teams are suffering injury problems, Covid situation, and international competition. And Tottenham the same.
“You know very well, you have seen the bench, our bench during the game against Chelsea. I can understand that we are in a moment where we have to try to recover very soon the players that are injured.”
Updated at 2.35pm GMT
Africa Cup of Nations: After excellent play from Sadio Mane, who had dropped deep before charging forward with the ball at his feet, Bouna Sarr misses a wonderful opportunity to fire Senegal in front. With the goal at his mercy after cutting inside a defender, he pulled a tame shot wide of the far post. They’re approaching the 70th minute and Senegal have done everything but score in this second half.
Africa Cup of Nations: Senegal have gone up a couple of gears in their match against Guinea, where Naby Keita has just been booked for clattering into his Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane. The deadlock between the sides remains unbroken in Cameroon but Senegal are currently looking very menacing.
Aston Villa v Manchester United: Ralf Rangnick has said he understands Dean Henderson and Donny Van De Beek’s frustration over a lack of playing time but claims he wants the dissatisfied duo to remain with Manchester United for the rest of the season.
“Well, I told him that I would like him to stay because he is a fantastic goalkeeper,” interim boss Rangnick said of Henderson, whois believed to be seeking a loan move away from Old Trafford. In training yesterday he had a couple of fantastic saves. I really like to have him on board as one of three top goalkeepers that we have. I can fully understand that he wants to play because he’s in an age where as a goalkeeper you should regularly play.
“But on the other hand we’re still in three competitions and therefore we need the two and three goalkeepers we have right now. I’ve told him that but, as I said, I can also on the other hand understand his desire to get regular game-time as a number one elsewhere in the Premier League.”
Henderson has only made two appearances this season and may feel his World Cup dreams are slipping away, having been forced to withdraw from the Euro 2020 squad through injury. Van de Beek’s hopes of making Holland’s squad for Qatar are also waning having struggled for games since his highly-anticipated switch from Ajax. The 24-year-old has only made four Premier League starts since joining for an initial £34.1m in 2020 and wants to get minutes under his belt.
“It’s the same situation as it is with Dean,” Rangnick said. “I’m glad to have him in the squad. “He came on in the last 15, 20 minutes against Villa in the cup game and he did well. He’s always performing on a high level in training. I had a conversation with him two weeks ago after training exactly about that and I told him that I would advise him to stay until the end of the season. Then of course with the World Cup coming up in the winter, he wants to play for his country.”
Updated at 2.35pm GMT
North London derby in doubt
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal: Another postponement on the cards? This from our man with the inside skinny on all things Arsenal. More news as we get it ...
Updated at 2.36pm GMT
Half-time: Senegal 0-0 Guinea
Africa Cup of Nations: It’s scoreless at the Kouekong Stadium, where Guinea have had the better of proceedings in the opening 45 minutes.
Manchester City v Chelsea: Pep Guardiola has revealed Manchester City have suffered some fresh cases of coronavirus within their first-team group this week.
City were without 21 personnel, including manager Guardiola himself and seven senior players, for last week’s FA Cup third-round win at Swindon after positive tests for Covid-19.
The new cases are offset by the return of others but Guardiola was unable to reveal much detail at a press conference to preview Saturday’s game against Chelsea.
“Some people are coming, some people are positive again,” he said. “When you have tested once, twice negative you come back. Otherwise not. We have some new cases but they want privacy, so I cannot tell you [who they are].”
Africa Cup of Nations: It’s still scoreless in the game between Senegal and Guinea with 34 minutes played, but Guinea have just blown a wonderful opportunity to take the lead.
As they swarmed forward in numbers on the counter-attack, Ilpaix Moriba elected to prod a through ball into the path of Morgan Guilavogui instead of shooting and it took a desperate lunge from Senegal defender Saliou Ciss, plus a fine save from goalkeeper Seny Dieng to keep out his shot.
Updated at 1.37pm GMT
Liverpool v Brentford: Brentford captain Pontus Jansson has signed a new deal with the club. The centre-back was due to be out of contract at the end of the season but has put pen to paper on fresh terms until the summer of 2023, having been an ever-present for the Bees since they earned promotion to the top flight.
“I am very pleased that Pontus has signed a new contract,” said Thomas Frank in a chat with the club website. “He has been a big part of the success we have had over the last three years. He has been important to our defensive improvement in the last three seasons.
“Pontus has done well for us in the Premier League and we are all pleased that he will be with us next season. His leadership and communication in defensive situations and his positioning are very important for us.”
Aston Villa v Manchester United: Ralf Rangnick expects to have Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Harry Maguire back for Manchester United’s Premier League match at Aston Villa tomorrow evening.
The trio missed Monday’s FA Cup third-round win against the same opposition through injury complaints, with Phil Jones also absent for the 1-0 result. “I think they will be available,” said Rangnick. “They only trained yesterday for the first time - Cristiano yesterday, Harry I think the day before yesterday. We have to wait for the final training session this afternoon but as it seems right now they should be available.”
Norwich City v Everton: Under fire Everton boss Rafael Benitez has been talking to the press as we near the end of a week in which some Everton fans were further incensed by the sale of left-back Lucas Digne to Aston Villa.
The Frenchman and his manager are reported to have fallen out in a row over tactics after the Merseyside derby in which were Everton were tonked in early December and yesterday Digne took what was presumed to be a swipe at Benitez in a farewell message to Everton fans that was posted on Instagram.
“The reality is that if you have a player who is thinking about leaving and you have an offer, the main thing for me as a manager is it to think about my responsibilities to make decisions for the best for the team and the club and future,” said Benitez.
“We bought a couple of young players who are good and hungry. I am sure they will be good now and even better in future. In the end it is positive for the club when you sell a player who is 29 next year and bring in player who is 22 and in different positions that we needed to balance.” Hmmm ...
Africa Cup of Nations: We’re almost 10 moinutes into the first half of Senegal’s match against Guinea. Senegal, the favourites, are playing pretty badly against opponents who have got off to a bright start.
Updated at 1.19pm GMT
Bundesliga news: Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann has revealed Alphonso Davies has stopped training due to a mild inflammation of the heart.
The Canadian international has been absent of late after he tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the month. After conducting medical checks on Thursday a mild sign of myocarditis was detected.
“Yesterday, during our follow-up examination that we do with every player that has had Covid-19, we detected signs of mild myocarditis, [an inflammation of the heart muscle],” he said. “He has stopped training for now, so he won’t be available to us for the next weeks.
“This myocarditis isn’t too dramatic based on the ultrasound, but more simply signs of an inflammation. Nevertheless, it needs to heal and that will no doubt take some time.”
Thomas Tuchel speaks
Manchester City v Chelsea: The Chelsea manager says he would be left fuming if it is discovered rival Premier League clubs are found to be trying to bend postponement rules.
Chelsea’s request for a postponement due to seven Covid-19 cases fell on deaf ears ahead of their goalless Premier League draw at Wolves on December 19 and they suffered their latest positive Covid case on Friday, when Andreas Christensen was ruled out of Saturday’s league trip to Manchester City.
Tuchel insists Chelsea are doing everything they can to make sure their games are going ahead and hopes it is the same story elsewhere. He was asked if he thought some clubs were attempting to push the limits on postponements such as including general injuries and Africa Cup of Nations absentees.
“I strongly, strongly hope that’s not the case, because otherwise I would be very, very angry,” he said. “Because we are doing everything to make games happen. And we were made to play when we thought we should maybe not. So I can only strongly hope that the rules are the same for everybody.”
Updated at 12.40pm GMT
Afcon Group B: Senegal v Guinea line-ups
Senegal: Seny Dieng, Mbaye, Cisse, Abdou Diallo, Ciss, Kouyate, N’Diaye, Bouna Sarr, Mane, Thiam, Dia.
Subs: Nampalys Mendy, Balde, Habib Diallo, Lopy, Pape Sarr, Diedhiou, Gomis, Name, Badara Faty.
Guinea: Aly Keita, Cisse, Sow, Mohamed Ali Camara, Conte III, Issiaga Sylla, Moriba, Diawara, Naby Keita, Guilavogui, Bayo.
Subs: Morlaye Sylla, Conte, Dyrestam, Ousmane Kante, Soumah,
Kane, Kaba, Ibrahim Kone, Mory Konate, Diallo, Fode Camara,
Kick-off: 1pm (GMT)
Some dates for your diary ...
Premier League: In a state of affairs that is likely to upset travelling fans who have already booked their train tickets, a number of top flight fixtures in the coming weeks have been resheduled. The dates in bold below are when the games are being played
Tuesday 18 Jan: Brighton v Chelsea (from 8 Feb)
Tuesday 8 February: Newcastle v Everton (from 9 Feb)
Wednesday 9 February: Norwich City v Crystal Palace (from 8 Feb) and Aston Villa v Leeds United (from 8 Feb).
Thursday 10 February: Wolves v Arsenal (from 8 Feb) and Liverpool v Leicester City (from 9 Feb).
Today at Afcon: There are four more group games in Cameroon today, with tournament favourites Senegal in action again following their slightly fortuitous last-gasp win over Zimbabwe.
- Senegal v Guinea (1pm GMT)
- Malawi v Zimbabwe (4pm)
- Morocco v Comoros (4pm)
- Gabon v Ghana (7pm)
Jurgen Klopp addresses the press
Liverpool v Brentford: Liverpool host Brentford on Sunday afternoon, with the visitors hoping to end a run of six top flight away trips without a win. Jurgen Klopp has been talking ahead of the game and said there are no new injuries to report after last night’s Carabao Cup semi-final stalemate with Arsenal.
“Brentford have a specific way to play, pretty direct, their goalkeeper is a playmaker, long balls and we struggled to defend second balls,” he said of his side’s 3-3 draw with the Bees in September. “The goals they scored were avoidable. Set-pieces, sleepy, they could score. It should not go that way. We have to be alert.
“Thomas Frank is doing a brilliant job there, they have interesting players there with the way they want to play. But I hope we can play much better than in the first game and can use Anfield, that would be helpful.”
Premier League statement: “Burnley FC’s home fixture against Leicester City FC, due to be played at 3pm on Saturday 15 January, has regrettably been postponed.
“The Premier League Board accepted Burnley’s application as the club does not have the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper), due to COVID-19 cases and injuries.
“The Board was able to make its decision in advance of the fixture to give clarity to the affected clubs and their fans. We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to supporters who planned on attending the game, and we are aware that postponements will disappoint fans.
“The League aims to provide as much clarity as possible, but unfortunately postponements sometimes have to be made at short notice, as safety is our priority. Where possible, the League will endeavour to keep supporters updated if games become at risk on a matchday.” [Continues at great and rather boring length]
Burnley v Leicester postponed!
Tomorrow’s scheduled match between Burnley and Leicester at Turf Moor has been postponed at the request of the home side. Already a centre-forward down following Chris Wood’s move to Newcastle United, Burnley’s application to have the game called off due to injuries and a Covid outbreak in the camp has been granted by the Premier League.
This means Leicester will have had three Premier League matches in a row postponed, while they will also have to find a window to fit in February’s scheduled match against Chelsea now that Thomas Tuchel’s side have got through to the Carabao Cup final.
Here’s our story :
Updated at 11.01am GMT
Manchester City v Chelsea: “Man down,” says Thomas Tuchel. We wish his central defender well.
Norwich City v Everton: Norwich City host out-of-sorts Everton tomorrow in a game Dean Smith’s side must win if they are to have any chance of lifting themselves off the foot of the table. Norwich were dismal in defeat against West Ham earlier this week and have scored just eight top flight goals this season, but Smith has called on his players to demonstrate a siege mentality.
“We have certainly spoken in the the dressing room about having a siege mentality at the moment,” said Smith. “We understand with the results and the run we are on, that we are going to come in for criticism - that happens and you have to get on with that.
“But we want that siege mentality where we want to come out and fight and try and prove people wrong. I am not bothered what people outside think. Everybody will have an opinion, rightly or wrongly.
“We know what goes on inside this football club, we know how hard we work and the restrictions we were under for three of the previous six games. We have got players coming back now and when we have got them back, we need to go and prove what we are about, to show the real us.”
More from Eddie Howe: The Newcastle boss insists his employers will not allow other clubs hold them over a barrel during the January transfer window as they try to get new bodies in the door during what remains of the January transfer window.
“Absolutely, you have to be in that position,” he said, when he was asked if they’d be willing to walk from deals if the transfer fees being charged were too exorbitant.
“You have to draw a line in certain situations and say, ‘No, we’re not going to pay that money’, otherwise where does the game go? It goes to an uncomfortable place, I think. It’s all about the individual player and judging each situation on individual merits, and that’s what we’ve tried to do.”
Newcastle continue to be linked with Lille defender Sven Botman, Sevilla defender Diego Carlos, Norwich midfielder Todd Cantwell and Reims striker Hugo Ekitike, among other players.
Newcastle United v Watford: Eddie Howe has been chatting to the media ahead of his side’s massive ding-dong against Watford tomorrow and has been talking about Chris Wood, the latest recruit to the Newcastle ranks.
“Nothing will be new to him, nothing will faze him,” he says. “He’s a person I admire as well from speaking to him. Getting to know him in a very short period of time, I’ve been hugely impressed with his character and his attitude.”
This weekend's Premier League fixtures
- Brighton v Crystal Palace (Friday 8pm GMT)
- Manchester City v Chelsea (Sat 12.30pm)
- Norwich City v Everton (3pm)
- Wolves v Southampton (3pm)
- Newcastle v Watford (3pm)
- Burnley v Leciester City (3pm)
- Aston Villa v Manchester United (5.30pm)
- West Ham v Leeds United (Sunday 2pm)
- Liverpool v Brentford (2pm)
- Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal (4.30pm)
Thank football it's Friday ...
Another weekend of Premier League action looms, bookended by tonight’s intriguing not-quite-a-derby rumble between Brighton and Crystal Palace, and Sunday’s that’s-more-like-it set-to between north London neighbours Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
In between, there are no shortage of mouthwatering fixtures, including a mouthwatering ding-dong between Manchester City and Chelsea, the mother of all six-pointers between Newcastle and Watford, and a reprise of Monday night’s FA Cup tie between Aston Villa and Manchester United.
Throughout the day, we’ll bring you news from assorted pre-match press conferences being staged at training grounds the length and breadth of the UK, while staying across any other major talking points at home and abroad. With another four matches slated to kick-off at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, it promises to be a very busy day.