Howe reacts to Newcastle defeat and discusses Nick Pope replacement for Carabao Cup final

Newcastle suffered their first home defeat to the season as they were beaten 2-0 by Liverpool on Saturday evening.

It is always a fixture that evokes memories of Premier League seasons gone by, though this one was the first time in a number of years that both came into the game as rivals for a top four spot.


It was Newcastle who came into the game in the all-important Champions League qualification places, while Liverpool had only won one of their last five Premier League outings.

It was a bright and lively start to the game at St James’ Park as Newcastle started on the front foot, though it would be Liverpool who took the lead in just the 10th minute. Trent Alexander-Arnold picked out the run of Darwin Nunez, the Uruguayan taking a touch before absolutely thundering it past Nick Pope.

It was 2-0 just six minutes later, and it was created by a superb pass by Mohamed Salah. Fabinho played it into the Egyptian just outside the box, before the forward played a sumptuous first-time ball over the Newcastle defence to pick out Cody Gakpo who netted for the second successive game.

Newcastle’s evening would go from bad to worse halfway through the first half, Alisson claiming the ball from a Magpies free-kick before launching a rapid counterattack with a long-ball towards Salah. Nick Pope raced out of his area and tried to head the ball clear, only for the ‘keeper to make a complete hash of it, losing his footing, handling the ball, and being shown a straight red card.

Despite being down to 10, Newcastle still posed a threat, with the Reds’ defensive frailties still apparent, with Allan Saint-Maximin a constant threat, with Alisson perhaps ending the game as Liverpool’s most important player.

Speaking after the game, Eddie Howe said he was ‘disappointed’ with the goals his side conceded, before discussing the decision to show Nick Pope a red card.

“A lot happened in the game, a good start from us and we had the first chance in the game,” he told Sky Sports. “We conceded two goals which is unlike us. I was disappointed with the goals, I thought we need to look back at them.

“Against these sorts of teams that’s the last thing you want to see especially with the scoreline. I feel really sorry for Nick [Pope]. It’s a very difficult one, he’s come out and slightly misjudged the ball, I suppose technically it is a handball, I don’t know the rules on the red card.

“I thought it was on the angle with defenders retreating to our goal but that was given. I thought the reaction to that sending off was brilliant from the team. I thought we stayed in the game and were competitive, we created chances and I felt if we could get the next goal we had a route back into the game but that never happened.

“I’ve had spells like this in my managerial career where you create chances and the goals don’t come. But I back the players to come out of it, we’ve got too much quality not to.”

Pope’s red card, coupled with Martin Dubravka being cup-tied means that either Loris Karius or Mark Gillespie will line up against Manchester United in next weekend’s Carabao Cup final, though Howe wasn’t concerned about throwing either of the ‘keepers into action.

“They’ve started games away from competitive action in several friendlies and training games. I’d say they’re match ready.

“I would have confidence in them, that’s what they’re in the squad for. They’ve both been very competitive and part of our group all season. I have full confidence.

“There’s been games where Nick [Pope] has had very little to do, there have also been moments where he has stepped up and made world-class saves for us. But we need to make sure we go into next week with the mindset that we protect our goal, as we have done all season, regardless of who the goalkeeper is. That doesn’t change our focus on the defensive display.

“We’ve got to digest this quickly and look forward to what is an exciting week for us.”

Read – Six of the most shambolic managerial reigns in Premier League history

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