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Eddie Howe will lead Newcastle into Premier League battle with Arsenal on Monday evening insisting he was never swayed by being linked with the Gunners earlier in his career.

The 44-year-old found himself at the centre of speculation that he could replace Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium back in 2016 having also been touted as a candidate for the England job during his time as Bournemouth boss.

Howe, who played down the suggestions at the time, revealed he was never close to doing so as he concentrated on his mission at a club he led from League Two into the Premier League.

He said: “At the time, I didn’t crave going to a top club. I loved being Bournemouth manager. I turned down numerous offers because I was happy, happy on and off the pitch.

“I was at a club that was very, very special to me with my history at the club, so I loved everything about being Bournemouth manager and I wasn’t looking to move.

“I was very content to stay and develop the club where I was allowed time to develop every part of the club.

“Moving was not part of what I wanted to do. I knew eventually there was a time when I would leave, but it wasn’t on my short-term agenda.”

Howe’s second spell in charge at Bournemouth, where he spent the bulk of his playing career, came to an end after almost eight years during the summer of 2020 in the wake of relegation to the Sky Bet Championship.

He took time out of the game before accepting his current role in November last year, and has significantly enhanced his reputation since by steering Newcastle to safety with two games to spare after a dreadful start to the season.

The Magpies entertain Arsenal having lost to Liverpool and Manchester City in their last two games, but they are just two points adrift of their best points tally of 45 since they returned to the top flight in 2017.