Eddie Howe hints Newcastle squad depth inadequate after Tottenham hammering

Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton look dejected after the match. (Action Images via Reuters)
Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton look dejected after the match. (Action Images via Reuters)
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Updated 11 December 2023
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Eddie Howe hints Newcastle squad depth inadequate after Tottenham hammering

Eddie Howe hints Newcastle squad depth inadequate after Tottenham hammering
  • Magpies’ hope for European and domestic success in doubt
  • Injuries and poor away form are big problems, says Howe

LONDON: Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has for the first time hinted that the Magpies’ squad is not equipped to fight on three fronts.

The Magpies were hammered in North London by Ange Postecoglou’s men, as Richarlison’s double and goals from Heung-Min Son and Destiny Udogie ensured Newcastle slipped further away from the Champions League places in the Premier League. It was also their second three-goal beating in four days, having lost at Everton on Thursday.

So with Premier League top-four hopes faltering, attention turns to the Champions League on Wednesday, when a win against last season’s semifinalists, AC Milan, will ensure European football remains on Tyneside, either in the last 16 of the competition, or in the Europa League, depending on the result in the Borussia Dortmund versus Paris Saint-Germain encounter.

Newcastle also have the prospect of a Carabao Cup quarterfinal in a week and a half, with Chelsea waiting in the wings.

Assessing his side’s performance, and looking at possible reasons for the last week’s disappointments, Howe has for the first time hinted his squad, after a host of injuries, is not capable of performing three times a week, as has been the case since September.

“We had our moments but we gave everything without the resources to give more,” said Howe. “It is difficult because we play on Wednesday, this is what we wanted. We hoped to have the squad to cope with that but we’ve had worse injuries than any team that I can remember.

“You have to critique like you would normally; we weren’t in rhythm around the box and lacked conviction. We didn’t defend the goals well enough. The moments were there, we had chances. There is always more, you can push yourself even when you’re tired.

“It was a difficult afternoon. The players have done so well to keep going behind a very congested period of games with some very hard fixtures for us.

“When you go back to Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Bournemouth they’re all difficult fixtures and then Everton and Tottenham away in a very short period of time. We haven’t been at our best, it’s there for everybody to see. The players are giving everything they could give so I have to back them and support them but acknowledge that our performances are not where they could be.

“You want to make changes that benefit the team. Not make changes that don’t benefit the team so I’m trying to make those decisions and get them right. I’ve been backed into a very difficult position with the team selection and even in game decisions. Today it would have been easy to say: ‘You’ve got Callum and Sean, put them on the pitch.’ But they’re not 100 percent fit so I’ve got to be very careful with them. Thankfully they came through and I thought their performances were really good in the game and that is a big positive in the game.”

While injuries have bitten hard, with the absence of fringe men felt as much as key performers, given Howe has been unable to allow his starters to rest, there is hope from the treatment room.

Callum Wilson and Sean Longstaff both came off the bench against Spurs and it is hoped Sven Botman and summer signing Harvey Barnes are not too far behind.

“We have light at the end of the tunnel,” Howe added.

“Callum and Longstaff are two huge players for us. We have to be positive, take the pain and come fighting.

“(Longstaff and Wilson) will be better for today. That was a good 30 minutes for them but we’ll have to take it game by game.”

One player who Howe will have to learn to live without, for (one) game at least, is Kieran Trippier, who picked up his fifth booking of the campaign. He will be unavailable for next week’s visit of Fulham, but will be able to play against Milan.

“It’s a huge blow for us, Kieran is a standard for us really to get a level of consistent performance. We’ll miss his quality,” said Howe.

Two home games in a week comes on the back of an away-day doubleheader. The form on home turf compared to their travels is stark. The Magpies have lost just once at St. James’, while they’ve won just once on the road. Howe knows it’s something that needs to change if Newcastle are to challenge the top four, like they did so successfully last season.

On poor away form, Howe said: “I can’t argue with that assessment. It’s up to us to find answers to that. I can’t defend it, so I won’t.”


Barcelona thump Getafe to go second

Barcelona thump Getafe to go second
Updated 4 sec ago
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Barcelona thump Getafe to go second

Barcelona thump Getafe to go second
MADRID: Xavi’s rejigged Barcelona side thrashed Getafe 4-0 on Saturday to climb to second in La Liga with recalled duo Joao Felix and Raphinha getting on the scoresheet.
The defending champions climbed above Girona and have 57 points from 26 games.
Leaders Real Madrid have 62 points and play their game in hand at home to Sevilla on Sunday.
Real Madrid hope to take their La Liga unbeaten tally to 20 matches as they await old boy Sergio Ramos, who returns for the first time since he left in 2021 to join PSG.
Joao Felix and Raphinha missed the midweek Champions League 1-1 draw at Napoli and their return paid dividends
Brazilian forward Raphinha broke the deadlock on 20 minutes latching onto a deep pass with a well-timed run and slick shot into the bottom corner.
Raphinha was involved in the build-up to the second goal as Felix doubled the lead with a far post tap in after 53 minutes, just after Getafe had hit the post.
Robert Lewandowski thought he’d made it 3-0 just before the hour but was ruled off-side.
The Pole has netted nine goals in his last 13 appearances, but was also twice denied by good saves on Saturday.
Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong did make it 3-0 just after the hour with a well struck shot from outside the box before Fermin Lopez tapped home a rebound in time added on.
A minute’s silence was observed before the match as a mark of respect following a fire tragedy at a 14-story apartment block which killed 10 people in Valencia.
The scheduled Liga game between Granada and Valencia was postponed.

Fulham puncture Man Utd’s feel-good factor, Villa hit Forest for four

Fulham puncture Man Utd’s feel-good factor, Villa hit Forest for four
Updated 19 min 21 sec ago
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Fulham puncture Man Utd’s feel-good factor, Villa hit Forest for four

Fulham puncture Man Utd’s feel-good factor, Villa hit Forest for four
  • United had won their previous four Premier League games to rekindle hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League
  • A 2-1 defeat leaves them eight points adrift of Villa

MANCHESTER, UK: Manchester United’s air of optimism was punctured as Alex Iwobi’s 97th minute winner handed Fulham their first win at Old Trafford since 2003, while Aston Villa surged clear in fourth by beating Nottingham Forest 4-2 on Saturday.
The completion of Jim Ratcliffe’s minority stake in United this week and a spell of good form had brought hope of a fresh start for the Red Devils.
United had won their previous four Premier League games to rekindle hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, but a 2-1 defeat leaves them eight points adrift of Villa.
Ratcliffe revealed his ambition to topple Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the English game within three years.
But the work that lies ahead of the British billionaire on and off the field was exposed as Fulham dominated a ragged United for long spells.
Rodrigo Muniz came closest to opening the scoring before half-time when he hit the post.
Fulham finally took one of their chances midway through the second half when Calvin Bassey lashed home his first goal for the Cottagers from a corner.
United looked to have snatched a point against the run of play late on when Harry Maguire tapped in after Bernd Leno spilled Bruno Fernandes’ effort.
But there was another twist in the tale as Fulham secured their first away win since the opening day of the season.
Adama Traore left Maguire trailing in his wake before teeing up Iwobi to curl inside Andre Onana’s near post.
Villa opened up a five-point lead over Tottenham in the battle for a top-four finish despite a wobble either side of half-time against Forest.
Unai Emery’s men were coasting toward a first home win of 2024 as they led 3-0 inside 39 minutes.
Ollie Watkins tapped in Leon Bailey’s cross to open the scoring after just four minutes.
Douglas Luiz then struck twice to take his tally for the season to nine Premier League goals, all of which have come at Villa Park.
Forest remain just four points above the relegation zone and reacted too late to help their survival hopes.
Moussa Niakhate pulled a goal back deep into first-half stoppage time before Morgan Gibbs-White’s delightful dink cut Forest’s deficit to one just three minutes into the second period.
However, Villa quickly restored their two-goal cushion when Bailey tapped in after Watkins’ initial effort was saved.
Oliver Glasner got off to a dream start as Crystal Palace manager with a 3-0 win over 10-man Burnley.
Palace had won just three times in 20 games stretching back to September to bring Roy Hodgson’s second spell in charge to an end.
Former Eintracht Frankfurt boss Glasner could not have wished for a kinder fixture to start against a Burnley side seemingly destined for an immediate return to the Championship.
Any hope of a first win this year for Vincent Kompany’s men disappeared with a first-half red card for Josh Brownhill.
Chris Richards opened the floodgates 22 minutes from time as Palace moved eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Jordan Ayew made it 2-0 before Jean Philppe-Mateta’s penalty rounded off the scoring.
Everton were denied a huge win in their battle to beat the drop by Lewis Dunk’s 95th minute equalizer for Brighton in a 1-1 draw at the Amex.
Jarrad Brainthwaite’s thumping finish on 73 minutes opened the scoring before Brighton were reduced to 10 men when Billy Gilmour saw red.
But Everton could not hold on as Dunk headed in Pascal Gross’ corner.
A point edges Sean Dyche’s men one point clear of the relegation zone.
Manchester City and Arsenal are in action later on Saturday as they look to close the gap on Liverpool in the title race.
City can move to within one point of the leaders with victory at Bournemouth.
Arsenal then host Newcastle aiming to extend their five-game winning streak in the Premier League.


Saudi Arabia bow out of 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship after Guam defeat

Saudi Arabia bow out of 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship after Guam defeat
Updated 34 min 50 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia bow out of 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship after Guam defeat

Saudi Arabia bow out of 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship after Guam defeat
  • Kingdom were playing for third place in Group A
  • Tournament is the first major 11-a-side competition for females to be held in the KSA

JEDDAH: A 2-0 defeat against Guam on Friday saw the women’s national team of Saudi Arabia end their participation in the 2024 West Asian Football Federation Women’s Championship.
Saudi Arabia and Guam were playing for third place in Group A with qualification out of reach for both teams following previous results against Jordan and Lebanon.
The 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship is the first major 11-a-side tournament for females to be hosted in Saudi Arabia.
Guam scored a brace in the clash, although the Saudi women played well, going close on numerous occasions.
The Saudi side lost their opener 3-1 against Jordan and were defeated 3-2 by Lebanon prior to Friday’s match.
Progress has been made under new head coach Lluis Cortes and the team gave a solid account of themselves against strong opposition.
The players will return to their club teams where they will resume playing in the second season of the Women’s Premier League until April.
The WAFF Women’s Championship is just the latest international football tournament to take place in Jeddah, which hosted the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup and the 2022 WAFF Women’s Futsal Championship.


Mateiko, Gebreselama victorious at 2024 Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon

Mateiko, Gebreselama victorious at 2024 Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon
Updated 24 February 2024
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Mateiko, Gebreselama victorious at 2024 Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon

Mateiko, Gebreselama victorious at 2024 Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon
  • Thousands of runners took part in the 17th edition of the race on Al-Marjan Island

RAS AL-KHAIMAH: The 17th Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon on Saturday saw victories for Kenya’s Daniel Mateiko in the men’s category and Tsigie Gebreselama of Ethiopia in the women’s.

Making his third appearance in Ras Al-Khaimah, Mateiko lit up a foggy morning to storm home with a time of 58:45, finishing five seconds ahead of compatriot John Korir (58:50). Isaia Lasoi made it a clean sweep for Kenya in the men’s event, finishing third (58:55).

In the women’s race, Ethiopia’s Tsigie Gebreselama smashed her personal best by more than 30 seconds to win in 65:14 over 2020 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon champion Ababel Yeshaneh (65:44), also from Ethiopia. Tanzania’s Jacklin Sakilu was a surprise third, beating her personal best by more than three minutes (66:04).

The two winners, who saw off competition from a powerful field of World and Olympic Champions, received their trophies from Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al-Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council member and ruler of Ras Al-Khaimah; Raki Phillips, CEO of the Ras Al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority; and Abdullah Al-Abdooli, CEO of Marjan.

Hosted by the Ras Al-Khaimah Development Authority, the race was held exclusively for the first time on the fast and flat roads of Al-Marjan Island and the runners took it in their stride, despite unusual weather conditions which saw visibility limited to about 50 meters at the finish line.

A delighted Mateiko was relieved to finally get a win in Ras Al-Khaimah after finishing sixth on his debut in 2022 and runner-up to Benard Koech last year.

“I was the fastest man in the field and I promised myself I’d win here after finishing sixth and then second last year,” said the charismatic 25-year-old Kenyan, who dedicated his win to the late Kelvin Kiptum, the marathon world record holder who tragically died this month.

“The conditions were very difficult — it was windy, humid and a little foggy — so this is definitely the best win of my career so far.”

While Mateiko saw off a world-class field that included defending champion Benard Koech, who finished fifth (59:42), and New York Marathon champion Tamirat Tola, who took seventh in the women’s event, the hugely talented Tsigie Gebreselama underlined why she is considered one of her country’s finest prospects.

“I am so happy to have run a personal best today,” said the 23-year-old, runner-up in the Cross Country World Championship and a woman on a mission to break a world record.

“I was very worried about Peres (Jepchirchir) in this race so I was surprised when she dropped back. It’s a great win for me, and, while it’s too early in my career to think about the Paris Olympics, my aim is to break the half marathon world record.”

Olympic marathon champion Jepchirchir, one of the pre-race favorites and a three-time half marathon world champion, suffered a set-back early on in the race when a shoe slipped off, costing her at least 20 seconds.

In addition to the elite field, the event saw more than 5,700 runners compete across four race categories. As well as the half marathon, which drew the biggest turnout, running enthusiasts competed in 5 km, 10 km and 2 km races on a day when the sport’s best distance athletes rubbed shoulders with runners from all over the world.


Francis Ngannou: From humble beginnings to ‘Knockout Chaos’ date with Anthony Joshua in Riyadh

Francis Ngannou: From humble beginnings to ‘Knockout Chaos’ date with Anthony Joshua in Riyadh
Updated 24 February 2024
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Francis Ngannou: From humble beginnings to ‘Knockout Chaos’ date with Anthony Joshua in Riyadh

Francis Ngannou: From humble beginnings to ‘Knockout Chaos’ date with Anthony Joshua in Riyadh
  • The 37-year-old will take on the two-time boxing champion in the Saudi capital on March 8
  • Ngannou is in Riyadh for the PFL vs. Bellator Champions event taking place at Kingdom Arena on Feb. 24

RIYADH: The Saudi capital is fast becoming a favorite hunting ground for the towering figure of Francis Ngannou.

The 37-year-old stepped into the ring against Tyson Fury at “Battle of the Baddest” in Riyadh last October, and narrowly lost in a controversial split decision.

Next up is the anticipated bout against Anthony Joshua at “Knockout Chaos” in Riyadh on March 8.

And on Thursday it was announced that Ngannou’s Professional Fighters League debut will be against the winner of Saturday’s PFL vs. Bellator Champions bout between heavyweights Renan Ferreira and Ryan Bader at Kingdom Arena.

From his humble beginnings in Cameroon to becoming one of the world’s most talked about fighters, Ngannou’s journey is a testament to unwavering determination, grit and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

Speaking to Arab News as he trained at the newly opened Mike Tyson Gym in the Saudi capital, Ngannou recalled the pivotal moment where his hunger for success ignited after he moved to France.

“I remember there was a moment that I just wanted to fight, you know,” he said, adding: “I was very excited, was very angry, was training all the time. My kickboxing wasn’t great though, but I had the willingness to win. It was quite a good experience.”

With his sights now set on greatness, Ngannou is keeping a close eye on the world of boxing, and expressed his preference for Tyson Fury over Oleksandr Usyk when the two clash in a postponed fight later this year.

“I will go more for Tyson Fury,” he said. “I pick Tyson Fury and to be honest, I want him to win. I want the rematch to be for the undisputed.”

Ngannou’s journey intersects with the PFL’s strategic expansion into the Middle East and North Africa region.

Speaking on the launch of PFL MENA and the role of Saudi Arabia in the brand’s global expansion, Ngannou praised the organization’s regional approach.

“I think the PFL has adopted a great strategy in terms of creating PFL regionally and then getting people more involved,” he said. “When you have an event centralized in one place, of course, it is going to be in different prime times around the world. And then most of the time people don’t feel it.”

The partnership with PIF-owned SRJ Sports Investments marks a significant milestone for PFL, paving the way for future collaborations and opportunities in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

“I think in terms of sport globally the wind is blowing in this direction,” Ngannou said. “We can see that fighters now are coming here to fight. But what we don’t see is that at the same time, they are building fighters here.”

Mentally preparing for the high-stakes battle ahead, Ngannou’s training regimen embodies his unwavering commitment to excellence.

“I train, I train and when I have doubt, I train again and again,” he said. “I put my confidence in my training and the work that I have put in, and I believe that is going to pay off.”

As Ngannou sets his sights on leaving a lasting legacy, his vision extends beyond personal triumphs to nurturing the next generation of fighters in Africa.

“I hope to be remembered as a great athlete,” he said. “The person who stands up for himself and does everything that he has to do and never backs down, never gives up.”

When Ngannou steps into the ring for Knockout Chaos, he will carry with him the hopes and dreams of an entire continent, poised to make history once again.