Newcastle United’s cutting edge missing as club prepares for EFL Cup final

Newcastle United’s supporters poured out of St James’ Park and headed into the vivid city centre singing songs of defiance regardless of the weighty injury inflicted in the defeat to Liverpool.

A wet night time on Tyneside started with a spectacular tribute within this vast stadium to Sir Bobby Robson who, of course, managed his beloved Magpies and would have been celebrating his 90th birthday on Saturday.

It finished with fourth-placed Newcastle searching nervously over their shoulder in direction of Liverpool’s mini-revivalists, whose 2nd successive 2- acquire – next on from Merseyside derby victory in opposition to Everton – leaves them six details behind Eddie Howe’s aspect with a game in hand.

The serenades outside the house the ground were being all about Wembley and up coming Sunday’s Carabao Cup Remaining with Manchester United – a further opportunity to end the hold out for a important trophy that stretches again to the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup gain in 1969.

And still even those people notes of optimism were being haunted by the shadow of the crimson card offered to goalkeeper Nick Pope, which guidelines him out of Newcastle’s initially huge showpiece due to the fact the 1999 FA Cup final.

Newcastle had been previously 2- down when Pope, this kind of a towering figure in Newcastle’s renaissance, manufactured a awful mess of a dash from goal to challenge Mohamed Salah. He slipped, panicked and took what he regarded as the only selection other than Newcastle likely 3- down, scooping the ball away from Salah with his hand as he lay inclined on the turf.

Referee Anthony Taylor’s subsequent purple card was an inevitability.

Newcastle keeper Nick Pope is shown a red card during his side's 2-0 defeat to Liverpool at St James' Park
Nick Pope conceded two times before remaining despatched off in the 22nd minute – the earliest a goalkeeper has conceded twice and been sent off in a Premier League game

There was a loud collective groan close to St James’ Park, adopted by another when the realisation sank in that the importance of what Pope experienced just completed stretched past this evening.

Newcastle confirmed commendable spirit regardless of their numerical handicap but there is just the lingering suspicion that Howe’s facet, owning pushed them selves so tricky to exceed anticipations this season, are starting off to hit the wall.

They are still in a powerful placement, 1 they would have happily signed up for at the begin of the season. Liverpool are the only facet to defeat them in the league this season – their earlier decline coming in the past minute at Anfield. And one more indication of their formidable operate is the fact that the two goals they conceded in the initial 17 minutes right here matched the quantity delivered in their preceding 8 league online games.

But the worry comes when the area is scratched.

Newcastle have gained only a single of their previous 7 league games, drawing five and only scoring a few goals in the approach.

Their chopping edge, for now, has gone. The timing is poor. They search, at occasions, leg-weary.

Newcastle's Anthony Gordon (right) react after their side's 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool
Newcastle conceded as several goals in the opening 17 minutes against Liverpool as they did in their previous eight Premier League matches merged (2)

And the absence of Pope has all the capacity to be a real game-changer future weekend for the reason that of the solutions accessible.

Howe, understandably, was talking up Pope’s potential understudies Loris Karius and Mark Gillespie, but make no error: this is a savage blow to their ambitions of at last bringing a trophy back to parade in front of their fervent supporters.

Karis has not played very first-team football for nearly two several years, when he played for Union Berlin versus Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga. Gillespie, 30, performed three League Cup online games for Newcastle in September 2020 but has not figured given that.

Howe insisted they would be “match completely ready” regardless of only figuring in teaching and friendlies. Each and every member of The Toon Military will hope he is right.

Pope’s absence is arguably the worst blow they could have endured, despite the fact that influential midfielder Bruno Guimaraes will be back again at Wembley to incorporate his world-class flourishes to the large event.

A banner in the stands in memory of Sir Bobby Robson on what would have been his 90th birthday before Newcastle's match with Liverpool
A banner in the stands in memory of Sir Bobby Robson on what would have been his 90th birthday before Newcastle’s match with Liverpool

Tyneside will decamp to Wembley for the day and the existence of people admirers on your own will raise Newcastle – but there is the prospect of nervy instances ahead, before and just after the remaining.

Newcastle have possession of fourth position and points on the board, but if there is a single facet with the ability to develop a run to claim that spot – assuming Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United will be the top three – it is Liverpool. And all of a sudden they look a minor ominous.

Optimism stays sky significant about Newcastle – rightly so – but there is no escaping the brutal truth that they will have to snap out of this mini-slump rapidly with so substantially on the line in the coming months.

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