Soccer

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe responds to angry Arsenal fans

Arsenal V Newcastle United in pictures

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Eddie Howe has insisted that his Newcastle players are not worried about being liked by other teams in response to the criticism aimed at the Magpies by some Arsenal fans after Tuesday’s goalless draw between the two clubs. Newcastle held firm to claim a welcome point from the Emirates Stadium to boost their hopes of sealing Champions League qualification but managed to rile up the Gunners in the process of doing so by running down the clock at every opportunity.

Newcastle were widely accused of employing time-wasting tactics in the latter stages of the match, with many Arsenal supporters taking to social media to criticise Howe’s game plan after the final whistle. The Magpies boss issued a blunt response on Friday, though, by insisting that his players do not care what others think of them as long as they keep picking up regular points.

“We’re not here to be popular, and to get other teams to like us,” said Howe. “We’re here to compete and, to compete, we have to give everything to try and get a positive result. I’ve got no issue saying that, that’s our job and that’s what we’re going to try and continue to do.

“I’m all for the people that going to watch football matches getting value for money and getting to see the ball in play. I’m a big advocate of that, and I would back that and support that, because you don’t want to see the ball out of play continually. Certainly, that wasn’t our intention against Arsenal.

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“There are certain times in the game where you have to manage situations, 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 tired to keep the ball in play in the vast majority of our games.”

Tensions boiled over during the closing stages of Tuesday’s game when Arsenal were denied a last-gasp penalty after what appeared to be a handball by Jacob Murphy inside the area. Mikel Arteta was left furious and ended up squaring off with Howe on the touchline in a confrontation that was somewhat out of character for the latter, who went on to address the incident by underlining the importance of sticking up for his team.

“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,” added Howe.

“But, certainly, I have to stand up for what I believe in certain moments. I have to give the referee a big compliment against Arsenal. I thought he was very strong when he needed to be at the end of the game under immense pressure. I thought he made the right decisions in those moments, so I’ve got no issue doing that.”

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