Pards wants fourth for Christmas
Alan Pardew has challenged his players to ensure Newcastle are still fourth in the table when they sit down to Christmas dinner.
Last Updated: 02/12/11 1:39pm
Alan Pardew has challenged his Newcastle players to ensure the club are still sitting fourth in the Premier League when they sit down to their Christmas dinners.
The Magpies head into Saturday's home clash with Chelsea in exactly that position and a point clear of Andre Villas-Boas' men.
With home games against promoted Swansea and West Brom to come after next weekend's trip to Norwich, Pardew's men have been presented with an opportunity to extend their stay in the upper reaches of the table.
Full-back Ryan Taylor said: "When we play Chelsea on Saturday, we are one point above them now and to think we would be four points above them if we beat them, that would be massive going into Christmas.
"The Gaffer mentioned today, 'Imagine having your Christmas dinner sitting in fourth position'.
"What a fantastic achievement that would be for a club that before the season started, people were writing off after losing so many players. It just shows the quality we have got in their place."
Even within the camp, where the belief was that a reshaped squad could still prosper this season, there was little expectation that they might fare so well during the opening months of the campaign.
However, having already amassed 26 points towards their first target of 40, they are in little mood to ease off even if they are able to enjoy the festivities still rubbing shoulders with the big boys.
Taylor said: "I'd rather crack open a bottle of champagne sitting in fourth place in May.
"Having Christmas dinner sitting in fourth would be a great achievement, but I am sure we can kick on from there.
"Once we try to get to that point where people say you need 40 points, then I'm sure a few can maybe relax and show a bit more and we can express ourselves a bit more."
If Newcastle's start has surprised many, it has been put to the test in recent weeks by a run of fixtures which has sent them to top two Manchester City and Manchester United before Chelsea's trip to Tyneside.
A spirited display in defeat at the Etihad Stadium and a hard-won point at Old Trafford provided evidence that the wheels are not about to come off, and that has increased confidence ahead of Saturday's game despite the quality of the opposition.
Taylor said: "What we have done this season is massive. We have been to Stoke and beaten them away, and not many teams go there and do that.
"We have had some great away days, so why not have some great home days?
"Chelsea are not having a good time at the minute - dumped out of the [Carling] cup in midweek, and their league form is not what Chelsea fans would expect, so what a great time to put our foot down and show this league we mean business."