Nick Pope eyeing Manchester United and Chelsea records with Newcastle United
Nick Pope continues to smash clean sheet records at Newcastle United.
The England goalkeeper kept his 15th clean sheet of the season in all competitions as Newcastle were held to a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace on Saturday evening. Pope has barely been called into action in recent weeks and the meeting at Selhurst Park looked to be unfolding in a similar fashion until he faced his first and only shot on target in the match after 73 minutes.
Jean-Philippe Mateta's powerful strike looked destined for the top left corner of Newcastle’s goal only for Pope to sensationally tip the ball over the crossbar with a save of the season contender.
"It is what goalkeepers are there for,” he smiled after the match. “That's what you train for, you know you're not going to be involved in every minute of the game necessarily and some games you'll be more active than others.
"It's a big part of being a goalkeeper when you're not in the game too much that you stay switched on, your body switched on and ready to make the difference.”
The draw saw Newcastle move back up to third in the table as they kept a sixth consecutive Premier League clean sheet – a top flight club record. Although it's still some way short of Edwin van der Sar's 14 consecutive clean sheets kept for Manchester United during the 2008-09 campaign.
Chelsea and Petr Cech also hold the record for most clean sheets in a single Premier League season with 24.
"We don't get to score many so we've got to get something [by keeping a clean sheet],” Pope added. I'm pleased with the amount we've amassed so far.
“We did check the record the other day but it's like 14 so we're not quite getting in those echelons yet!”
On a personal level, it was a ninth consecutive clean sheet for Pope including his three shut-outs in the Carabao Cup. The 30-year-old has now gone a staggering 14 hours and 48 minutes of continuous competitive football (including stoppage time) without conceding a goal for The Magpies.
He also hasn’t conceded a first half goal in 16 matches – a run stretching back to August. But Pope refused to take all of the credit for his stunning clean sheet record.
“It's us as a defensive unit and that is as an 11," he added. “From the front we work really hard to keep the opposition away from our goal and limit them in terms of shots and moments in our attacking half. It's a credit to the coaching staff and the lads as well.”
Next up for Newcastle is a trip to Southampton in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg. The Saints just so happen to be the last side to score past the former Burnley shot-stopper.
"We're really proud and pleased with how the first half of the season has gone and we've given ourselves a foundation,” the United goalkeeper told The Gazette. “But I think that's all it is, a foundation to push on in the second half of the season and achieve something hopefully really great."
It’s easy to forget just over 12 months ago, Newcastle set a Premier League record for the most goals conceded in a calendar year. How times have changed.