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Newcastle face season-defining week – Clark

Newcastle face season-defining week – Clark
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The Magpies play Blackburn in an FA Cup replay before a top flight clash with Cardiff.

Ciaran Clark acknowledges Newcastle face a week which could go a long way to defining their season.

The Magpies, who lost 2-1 at Chelsea on Saturday to drop into the relegation zone, play Blackburn in a FA Cup third round replay before the Premier League clash with Cardiff, who are one point and one place better off at the foot of the table.

"We've got the FA Cup replay first, but we know – and everyone knows that the game against Cardiff is massive," Clark said on nufc.co.uk.

"We've played the top sides and the pressure is almost more than them that it is on us because 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."

Clark took encouragement from the performance at Stamford Bridge.

His headed equaliser before half-time saw the visitors pile pressure on Chelsea, only for Willian to score a second-half winner.

The Magpies defender added: "We have to maintain that workrate and belief and stick together."

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri bemoaned his side's mentality after their early lead, secured through Pedro's ninth-minute goal.

And Willian admitted the Blues must be more incisive to kill off the opposition earlier.

"We have to be more clinical in the next games," Willian told Chelsea TV.

"If we kill the match before, we have more freedom, it's easier to play. We have to learn on that and continue to work."

Chelsea have a rare week without a midweek fixture in which to improve breaking down opponents, ahead of next Saturday's clash at Arsenal, who now sit six points behind the Blues in the race for the top four.

Willian scored his third league goal of the season and fifth in all competitions against Newcastle and is seeking his 50th Chelsea goal against Arsenal.

He added: "I hope so, it would be perfect. We'll go for it."

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Willian celebrates after putting Chelsea back in front against Newcastle United on January 12, 2019
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