Rafa Benítez is promising a more attack-minded approach from his Newcastle side when Southampton visit St James’ Park on Saturday.
The Magpies were accused in some quarters of lacking ambition in their 2-0 defeat at Liverpool last time out.
But Benítez accepts a home game with Saints will demand greater emphasis on attack.
“Obviously Southampton will be different,” he said. “We play at home with our fans behind us. We have to attack and we have to create chances.
“Obviously every game is important to us but these types of games against the teams close to us we have to do well in.
“This is the most important because it’s the next one. Every game is a final now.
“Against a team that’s close to us, we must be sure that we try our best to get three points. We will realise where we are in April or May, because there are a lot of games to play.
“When you play against a top side, the difference is massive. Everything has to be perfect. Against other teams, you can make mistakes and still win.”
Benítez is without goalkeeper Rob Elliot, defender Jesus Gamez and on-loan Leicester striker Islam Slimani, but is hoping to have Jonjo Shelvey available again after the midfielder returned to training.
The Newcastle boss managed Mauricio Pellegrino as a player at Valencia, before appointing his Saints counterpart as a coach, and then assistant manager at Inter Milan.
“We have a good relationship,” Benítez added. “He knows me really well, I know him really well. It will be difficult to do something that the other one is not expecting.”