EDDIE HOWE admitted his Newcastle United side “failed to compete” in their 4-1 defeat at Arsenal, and bemoaned the defensive errors that resulted in his side shipping four goals in a game for the fourth time since the start of December.

The Magpies were comprehensively beaten at the Emirates, with Arsenal dominating for the vast majority of the game as they closed to within two points of league leaders Liverpool.

In their recent meetings with the Gunners, Howe’s side have unsettled their opponents, knocking them out of their attacking stride. At the start of November, they inflicted a rare league defeat on Mikel Arteta’s side.


They never looked like staging a repeat this evening though, with Howe accepting that his players failed to match their opponents’ intensity.

“We’re especially disappointed with the first half,” conceded the Magpies head coach. “I thought that was hugely disappointing from our perspective. I don’t think we really, truly got going in that first half at all.

“They put us under pressure. Initially, I thought that was just the start of the game and we would weather that and come into it, but at no stage did we really come out of that moment. I don’t think we competed well enough, which is really unlike us. I think we’ll learn a lot from that first 45.”

Newcastle’s defensive record is a particular cause for concern, with their latest defeat meaning they have now conceded 45 goals in their 26 league matches.

Aside from the three clubs in the relegation zone, only Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest have conceded more goals than Newcastle this season, a marked change from last term, when the Magpies’ superb defensive record was the bedrock of their success.

“Of course, it’s a worry,” admitted Howe. “With every game that goes by and we concede goals, it’s a concern. Of course, we’re working on lots of things behind the scenes to try to improve that, but that probably wasn’t evident in today’s performance.

“I think it’s a real combination of things. Today, we didn’t defend set-plays well enough. We conceded two goals from corners, even though we knew their threat and how good they are in those situations.

“Then the third goal was a huge disappointment as well because we were the dominant team at that stage, right in the game. There were some difficult moments, defensively, for us.”