Ciaran Clark says Newcastle United will take “belief” from their showing against Chelsea on Saturday – despite the Magpies going down to a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Clark’s 40th-minute header cancelled out Pedro’s early strike for the Blues, but a sweetly-struck effort from Brazilian Willian shortly after the restart proved enough to clinch victory for Maurizio Sarri’s side.
However, in contrast to their recent displays against Liverpool and Manchester United, the Magpies never looked like wilting, particularly as they looked for a way back into the game during the first half, when they created opportunities both before and after Clark’s equaliser.
Results elsewhere meant that Newcastle had slipped into the relegation zone ahead of the clash, and though they weren’t quite able to pick up the point that would have seen them climb back out of it, the Irish defender found it tough to criticise United’s overall display.
“WE’LL LOOK AT THAT PERFORMANCE AND TAKE BELIEF OUT OF IT. WE’VE COME AWAY TO STAMFORD BRIDGE AND PUT A REALLY GOOD EFFORT IN, PUT OURSELVES ABOUT AND ON ANOTHER DAY, WE COULD HAVE NICKED A DRAW OR EVEN GOT THE WIN.”
“We’ll look at that performance and take belief out of it. We’ve come away to Stamford Bridge and put a really good effort in, put ourselves about and on another day, we could have nicked a draw or even got the win,” he told nufc.co.uk. “It’s disappointing to come away with nothing. Coming out for the second half, it’s a level game again. We were really up for it after getting back in the game. We know they’re a great side with some great players, but we wanted to keep them at bay for as long as possible. Obviously, they scored the second which put us under pressure, and we knew we were going to have to try and press and get a bit further up the pitch, which we managed to do towards the end of the game. We’re disappointed with the result, but we’ll take the positives out of it and hopefully put it right next week.
“The attitude was spot-on. We created some half-chances that, on another day, would fly in. It was a tough game – especially for me personally, coming back into one like that – but the work-rate throughout the team for 90 minutes was massive and that’s going to help us throughout the rest of the season. We have to maintain that work-rate and belief and stick together.”
United travel to Blackburn Rovers for an Emirates FA Cup Third Round replay on Tuesday before hosting Cardiff City in a crunch Premier League encounter four days later.
The Bluebirds currently sit a point and a place better off than Newcastle, who will be bidding to pick up a first victory at St. James’ Park in six attempts.
“Obviously we’ve got the FA Cup replay first, but we know – and everyone knows – that the game against Cardiff is massive,” said Clark. “We’ve obviously played the top sides and the pressure is almost more on them than it is on us ‘cause they’re expected to beat us, and if we can get anything out of those games, then it’s great. But next week, when we’re playing against a team who are in and around us, they’re the ones where we definitely need to be picking the points up. We’ll work hard in training throughout the week and everyone will be well up for it.”