Nick Pope: Keeping another spotless record, the Newcastle goalkeeper

Nick Pope: The Newcastle goalkeeper extends his remarkable streak of shutouts

However, the £10 million paid to Burnley for Nick Pope appears to be a pittance in comparison to Newcastle United's new era of wealth under their Saudi Arabian owners.

The 30-year-old England goalie proved more than worth as Newcastle moved closer to the major trophy that has eluded them since 1969, even though more money may have been spent elsewhere. Few signings anywhere are giving better value for money than the 30-year-old England keeper.

Newcastle and their fervent fan base are burdened by history, and ever since Mike Ashley sold out, this expectation has grown significantly. After Joelinton's second-half goal gave them a slim semifinal first-leg victory at Southampton, they will now be heavy favorites to advance to the Carabao Cup final.

The long, painful wait since Inter Cities' Fairs Cup victory is finally coming to an end, though, as evidenced by the Toon Army's wild scenes of celebration at the final whistle.

The magnificent Pope and a stubbornly vindictive defense were at the center of it all, giving manager Eddie Howe's Newcastle rebuild a rock-solid foundation.

Pope now has a remarkable record of 10 consecutive clean sheets across all competitions thanks to his shutout at Southampton, during which he made two important saves from substitute Che Adams with the game scoreless. He is the first goalkeeper with a Premier League team to accomplish such a feat, according to Opta stats dating back to August 2012.

David de Gea of Manchester United is second with 12 from 27 games, but he has kept 16 clean sheets in 24 games this season, a far superior ratio to anyone else.

With Southampton's best chance of the game, Adams was not accurate enough to beat the keeper's outstretched left foot. Pope's air of assurance and confidence behind Newcastle's defense is having an effect on opposing strikers.

In addition, Pope hasn't given up a goal since Newcastle United's last visit to St. Mary's on November 6, which resulted in a 4-1 victory for the visitors. This adds to his impressive list of stats.

It's possible that Bruno Guimaraes, Pope's teammate at Newcastle, was just buzzing from the victory when he called Pope "the best goalkeeper in the world" in the post-game interview, but there's no denying that Pope is having an outstanding campaign.

Pope, who was considered England's third-choice goalkeeper behind Aaron Ramsdale and Jordan Pickford, was a member of the World Cup squad in Qatar. Pope is doing everything in his power to advance his case, but manager Gareth Southgate's decision to remain will keep Pickford, who is rightfully in the lead.

Clean sheets
The team with the most clean sheets across all competitions in Europe's top leagues this year is Newcastle.

For all of his attacking prowess while managing Bournemouth, Howe was criticized for his inability to fortify the defense.

The same accusations cannot be leveled against him now because, in addition to the players he inherited, his signings Pope, Kieran Trippier, Sven Botman, and Dan Burn form a superb defense.

It has led to what is potentially turning out to be a dream season, including a Wembley appearance, their first in a major final since the 1999 FA Cup, and their entry into the Premier League's upper echelons, where they currently sit third behind league leaders Arsenal and defending champions Manchester City.

And even if the scoring has slowed down recently, Newcastle can still rely on its fiercest top-flight defense, which has allowed just 11 goals in 20 games while giving up 14 goals in 26 games overall.

In this setting, Newcastle thrives, and they will be confident that they can defeat Southampton in the second leg in front of a fevered Tyneside crowd.

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