EDDIE HOWE has told his Newcastle United players to put last night’s thrashing at Arsenal behind them as they turn their attention to their “biggest game of the season” at Blackburn on Tuesday night.

The Magpies crashed to a 4-1 defeat at the Emirates that means they have now conceded an alarming 23 goals in their last eight matches.

They head to Ewood Park this week to take on Blackburn, with a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals at stake, so while Howe accepts there are lessons to be learned from the Arsenal defeat, he is determined to start refocusing minds as quickly as possible.


“We’ve always managed to have that spirit to come back,” said the Magpies head coach. “This (the Arsenal defeat) was difficult, but I thought we showed our character in the second half, and now we're going to have to show that again against Blackburn, which is a huge game in our season.

“In really, really challenging situations, the players have really stuck together. We have to do that now for Blackburn. We have to look at this as the biggest game of our season, and yeah, there's a lot resting on this next game.”

Martin Dubravka could be available to return against Blackburn, having missed the defeat at Arsenal because of an illness, while Alexander Isak should also be able to feature in the starting side after he was withdrawn just after the hour mark at the Emirates.

Joe Willock made his first appearance since mid-November as he came off the bench to score against his former employers, and the midfielder’s 17-minute substitute appearance was one of the few positives to emerge from an otherwise bitterly disappointing night.

“I think Joe's cameo was excellent,” said Howe. “I think he showed exactly what we've missed from him, and his qualities of attacking the box late and getting goals.

“Alex's return was a huge positive, and he’ll hopefully have improved for that 60 minutes. Apart from that though, I'm struggling to find too many more.”

Nevertheless, while Newcastle were comprehensively outplayed by an Arsenal side who remain in the thick of the title race, Howe denies that his side are stuck in a rut.

“We know that our run of form has not been as consistent as we want it to be,” he said. “But coming here, we were unbeaten in five, so I don't think it was all bad. This is a defeat we'll have to take on the chin, and we'll have to come back stronger for it.”