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Eddie Howe refuses to point fingers at Newcastle United players after slump at Chelsea

LONDON: Eddie Howe is refusing to point fingers at his Newcastle United players after their latest error-strewn Premier League show at Chelsea.

Mistakes from Sven Botman, Dan Burn and Sean Longstaff littered another poor away-day show as the Magpies were well-beaten in West London, despite the narrow scoreline.

Nicolas Jackson gave the home side an early lead against the run of play before Alexander Isak’s 16th goal of the season silenced the Stamford Bridge crowd. After the break, however, Chelsea took total control, running away with this crucial battle for the Premier League European slots, with Cole Palmer and Mykhailo Mudryk netting to seal all three points. Jacob Murphy scored a late consolation for Howe’s men.

While many fans took aim at the Newcastle players for their poor performances, Howe was in no mood to do the same, preferring to talk of collective failure on the night.

“Things went wrong with the goals we conceded for sure,” Howe admitted. “We’re really disappointed with the first one because we had started the game really well and Chelsea penned in but with the first attack they have we almost gift them the goal.

“The three goals we conceded today were as poor as we’ve conceded for a while. We can’t come away from home and play well, which we did, and concede those goals and expect to get anything from the game. It’s cost us the match.”

He added: “I won’t go into detail about the mistakes we made and who made them, that’s not for me to do, I’ll never act that way. It’s always a collective thing but we did make some individual mistakes which have harmed us.”

Results this weekend saw Newcastle drop to 10th in the Premier League table. Their hopes of securing a second successive Champions League spot — which may be in the top five this year — look to have faded, while even the Europa League and Conference League slots are proving tough to catch up with in current form.

After finishing 11th in Howe’s first season, and consistently being one of the world’s biggest net spenders in three of the four transfer windows since, many are questioning whether progress has stalled.

On the topic, Howe, whose side take on Manchester City at the Etihad in the sixth round of the FA Cup on Saturday evening, said: “There is no doubting the ability of the players we have, you could see today we’ve got some very good players highlighted by the two goals we scored and some of our general play especially in the first half was very, very good. We looked in a really good rhythm and confident but we killed ourselves tonight with the goals we conceded. That, in a sense, can dent confidence and harm you in the manner in which we did today.

“In the Premier League we have to keep going and commit to every game and give our best to try and win every single match, and that’s what we’ll try to do. Our priority is the FA Cup, that is going to be a big challenge for us. We have to forget about the Premier League for a while and commit to this game we’ve had on the horizon. And then we have a break and then once we come back we have to give the Premier League everything.”

Injuries have blighted the Magpies’ season, and just as things started to improve in that department, yet more players look set to be sidelined.

Dan Burn picked up a knock and was withdrawn, but the most concerning issue was with Anthony Gordon, who looked to have suffered a knee injury.

“He’s in a bit of pain, it’s unclear what the injury is. We’re not sure what the diagnosis is with Anthony, he’s got a knee problem. It’s just a pain he felt come on so there was no moment or incident that it happened, it was just gradual,” said Howe.

“He’s in a bit of pain so we fear it’s not looking too good but it’s very early days. That was obviously a huge moment in the game to lose him as well because he’s been so good for us this year and so consistent in his performances so it’s another psychological blow.

“It’s unclear what the injury is which can always add a more negative feeling because we want clarity. Hopefully, we can give him that in the next couple of days and we can get him seen to. Of course, he’ll be disappointed to go off.”

A bright point, on an otherwise difficult night, was the performance of Tino Livramento, in for the injured Kieran Trippier. The youngster was a constant thorn in the hosts’ side, and put in one of his best shows in front of watching England boss Gareth Southgate.

Howe said: “A very good performance from Tino. I thought he was a real attacking threat in that first half, he gave us some good moments — combinations with Miggy (Miguel Almiron) and Sean (Sean Longstaff) on that side of the pitch.

“Maybe a little quieter at the beginning of the second half so we moved him sides and I thought he came alive again on the left so showed his versatility and athleticism through the match. He can be pleased.

“He’s growing into his position. He’s certainly got the love of the supporters which is a huge thing at this football club. I think they see what he brings to the team so I think he’s had a really good start.”

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