Newcastle United's two surprise injuries explained, Wilson’s frustration and staggering stat – moments missed
Newcastle United held out for a 0-0 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon – here are some moments you may have missed from the match.
The inside story of Sven Botman’s full debut – two players absent
The 22-year-old Dutchman started at left centre-back as Dan Burn moved out wide to the left-back position.
Although more natural full-backs such as Paul Dummett and Javier Manquillo were named on the bench, Howe’s decision to play the 6ft 6in defender at left-back was justified by the 30-year-old’s impressive display against his former club.
Targett was in attendance at The Amex Stadium on Saturday in spite of his injury. And Howe explained the player’s absence following the match.
“He got a dead leg last week to his hamstring,” the United head coach said. “We felt it was just a knock, but we had a scan and it showed very, very subtle damage to the muscle.We’re treating it like a very small muscle strain, but we’re hoping he will be back soon.”
Winger Ryan Fraser didn’t make the trip as Howe revealed: “He had a slight back spasm on Thursday and Friday. He was close to making the game.”
Dan Burn’s classy gesture and ‘banter’ with former teammates
Dan Burn admitted prior to the game that he didn’t get the chance to properly say goodbye to Brighton or the fans prior to his deadline day move to Newcastle back in January.
"I'm looking forward to it,” Burn said last week. "It'll be strange but I am looking forward to it as I did not get the chance to say goodbye to the fans properly.
"A lot of staff I also didn't get to see because it happened so quickly. It will be a tough game and we know we have only won one match so we need to kick on and put in another performance.”
And as he went to check out the pitch at The Amex Stadium before kick-off on Saturday afternoon, Burn was met by a warm welcome from the home fans.
The Newcastle defender even stopped for a chat with staff and a photo with some Brighton supporters on the sidelines.
During the match, Burn’s positive reception continued as he performed well on his first outing as a left-back for Newcastle, a position he’d played several times for Brighton over his three and a half year spell at the club.
Even when tempers flared following a clash between Joelinton and Solly March, Burn used his experience of playing alongside both sets of players to help calm things down as he went over and jokingly nudged some of his former teammates.
Having left quickly but on good terms with Brighton, Burn embraced his former manager Graham Potter following the full-time whistle.
Callum Wilson’s disallowed goal
Inside the opening 15 minutes, Newcastle found the back of the net as Callum Wilson brilliantly controlled the ball, clipped it over Brighton defender Adam Webster before beating Lewis Dunk with his foot and finding the left side of the goal.
Referee Graham Scott quickly blew his whistle for a high foot against Wilson, much to the disappointment of the United striker.
Following the match, the Newcastle No. 9 took to social media to post a photograph of him winning the ball at least a couple of feet away from Dunk or Webster, suggesting he was mildly irritated by the decision to say the least.
Wilson was also backed up by another Newcastle No. 9 in Alan Shearer, who felt the striker should have been given the benefit of the doubt.
“I just thought the referee was far too quick to blow his whistle here,” Shearer said on Match of the Day. “He blows it for dangerous play.
“The defender is a yard away from Callum Wilson. Dangerous play? The defender is nowhere near him!
“Everyone stops because the referee, in my opinion, goes far too quick.”
A new Nick Pope chant
All eyes were on social media sensation Nick Pope heading into the game after the goalkeeper trended worldwide on Twitter on Friday.
And the Newcastle shot-stopper put in a fine display, making several saves to secure his second clean sheet in as many games for the club.
Along with the typical ‘England’s No. 1’ chant, Newcastle fans also had a new song for the 30-year-old.
To the tune of ‘Our House’ by Madness, the 3,100 travelling United supporters chanted ‘Nick Pope, in the middle of our goal’.
Perhaps not the most inventive song they’ve ever coined, but certainly one fitting for the weekend’s events.
Let’s see if it returns at St James’s Park against Manchester City next Sunday!
Newcastle United’s best Premier League start in over a decade
Newcastle backing up last weekend’s 2-0 opening day win against Nottingham Forest with a goalless draw at Brighton marks the club’s best start to a league season after two games since the 2011-12 campaign.
The Magpies have been notorious slow starters over the years and haven’t gone unbeaten after two league games since a goalless draw with Arsenal and a 1-0 win at Sunderland in August 2011, also keeping two clean sheets in the process.
That news will be encouraging to United supporters given that the club ended up finishing fifth in the Premier League that season.
Since then, Newcastle had picked up three points from their opening two games just twice by starting the 2012-13 and 2020-21 campaigns with a win and a defeat.
The 2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2018-19 seasons saw the side pick up one point from the opening two games while the 2016-17, 2017-18, 2019-20 and 2021-22 seasons have seen the side start with two defeats.
It’s a welcome change of pace to say the least!