Newcastle in no popularity contest

The Herald

NEWCASTLE. — Eddie Howe has insisted Newcastle have no interest in winning friends after stifling Arsenal’s bid to be crowned English Premier League football champions.

The Magpies extended their unbeaten run in all competitions with a goalless draw away to league leaders Arsenal on Tuesday, with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta frustrated by a penalty decision that did not fall in his favour and alleged time-wasting by the visitors.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was equally annoyed after his side needed a 98th-minute winner to inflict Newcastle’s only loss of the season so far, but Howe was in defiant mood ahead of today’s FA Cup third round tie away to Sheffield Wednesday.

“We are not here to be popular and to get other teams to like us,” said the Newcastle manager.

“We are here to compete and to compete, we have to give everything to try and get a positive result.”

The 45-year-old, widely regarded as one of the best young English managers in football, added: “I’ve got no issue saying that. That is our job and that’s what we’re going to try and continue to do.”

Tuesday’s draw ended Arsenal’s perfect home record this season and some reports suggested the ball was in play for fewer than 52 minutes of the scheduled 90.

Figures which former Gunners vice-chairman David Dein used to reinforce his calls for referees to no longer be in charge of time-keeping.

An unapologetic Howe said: “Depending on how the game is going and where the momentum is in the game, you have to be streetwise and smart and find a way to get a positive result for your team, and certainly I think that’s been a really good aspect of our play this year.

“But on the other side of that, I think we’ve been very proactive and tried to keep the ball in play in the vast majority of our games.”

Howe, with the backing of Newcastle’s Saudi owners, has guided Newcastle into third place in the Premier League and the quarterfinals of the League Cup.

This has left loyal fans of the northeast side dreaming of the Magpies’ first major domestic trophy in nearly 70 years.

Howe, who gave no ground in response to Arteta’s touchline rant, said: “I have to be very strong at certain moments for my team, for the club. I’ve got no problem doing that as long as I don’t lose my discipline and control.

“But certainly I have to stand up for what I believe in in certain moments.”

FA Cup Fixtures

Today: Forest Green Rovers v Birmingham (2:30pm); Crystal Palace v Southampton (2:30pm); Gillingham v Leicester City (2:30pm); Preston v Huddersfield (2:30pm); Reading v Watford (2:30pm); Tottenham Hotspur v Portsmouth (2:30pm); Blackpool v Nottingham Forest (5pm); Boreham Wood v Accrington Stanley (5pm); Fleetwood Town v QPR (5pm); Chesterfield v West Brom (5pm); Bournemouth v Burnley (5pm); Hull City v Fulham (5pm); Boro v Brighton (5pm); Ipswich Town v Rotherham United (5pm); Millwall v Sheffield United (5pm); Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland (5pm); Brentford v West Ham (7:30pm); Coventry City v Wrexham (7:30pm); Grimsby Town v Burton Albion (7:30pm); Luton Town v Wigan (7:30pm); Sheffield Wednesday v Newcastle (8pm); Liverpool v Wolverhampton Wanderers (10pm).

Tomorrow: Bristol City v Swansea (2:30pm); Derby v Barnsley (2:30pm); Cardiff v Leeds (4pm); Norwich City v Blackburn (4pm); Hartlepool United v Stoke City (4pm); Stockport County v Walsall (4pm); Manchester City v Chelsea (6:30pm); Aston Villa v Stevenage (6:30pm).

Monday: Oxford United v Arsenal (10pm). — AFP.

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