Nick Pope’s red card against Liverpool forced Eddie Howe to make an early change on Saturday night, and it meant Elliot Anderson‘s first Premier League start had to end prematurely.

The 20-year-old was named in the starting XI in the top flight for the first time ever, coming in for the injured Joe Willock. It was a huge show of faith from Howe, who was able to stick with his 4-3-3 formation by selecting Anderson.

The youngster has impressed off the bench at times this season, and will have been desperate to make his first ever start. However, it turned out to be a disaster.

He was forced off after just 24 minutes, with Newcastle needing to bring on a new goalkeeper after Pope’s moment of madness. Martin Dubravka got himself ready, and Howe decided that Anderson was the man he would replace.

Now the Toon boss has explained why the academy graduate was the one to make way.

Newcastle United v Liverpool FC - Premier League
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Tactical reason why Eddie Howe took off Elliot Anderson

Howe has spoke to the Chronicle about his decision to take Anderson off midway through the first half against Liverpool.

“It was a huge disappointment for him [Anderson] and for me to have to take him off because it was the last thing I wanted to do,” Howe said.

“I just felt we needed a transitional threat in the game.

“The counter-attack was going to be hugely important to us, so we reshuffled and went with two forward players, but those two forward players needed extreme pace, I felt, so, unfortunately, Elliot was the one to come off, but it was nothing against what he did in that time on the pitch.”

Howe’s decision made sense

With Howe eager to go two up top, it made sense to take Anderson off. It allowed Allan Saint-Maximin to join Alexander Isak in attack, and they both did a brilliant job of stretching the Liverpool defence.

We saw Howe do the same last season when Ciaran Clark was sent off against Norwich. That was when Joelinton’s midfielder renaissance began. It came about because the Newcastle manager wanted to be a threat on the counter, which is a testament to his desire to win games.

At 2-0 down, Howe easily could have set up in a 4-4-1 and accepted defeat. But he went for it, and his tactical shift allowed Newcastle to create a lot of chances. However, they were not converted.

It was disappointing for Anderson’s first Premier League start to end so suddenly, but Howe has explained his reasoning and it makes complete sense. As for the midfielder, his message on Instagram shows that he understood the decision too.

Hopefully there will be more opportunities on the horizon for Anderson, as there is no doubt that he is going to become a star in black and white.

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