There’s no doubt about it, that was a big three points for Newcastle this weekend. The importance of staying within touching distance of Chelsea in fifth and retaining the points’ cushion over Liverpool was vital. Having been disappointed in both cups, Newcastle’s season has been defined by their lofty position within the elite top six. Should Newcastle have failed to secure the win, the club would be facing mid-table mediocrity with a resurgent Sunderland snapping at their heels.
Speaking before the Arsenal game last week, Alan Pardew played down the encounter between the two sides, stating, “I don’t think Arsenal is the game that is going to determine whether or not we get a European position.” No such talk before Sunday’s home tie with Norwich however.
Pardew was in a determined mood, setting out a target of five wins from the remaining ten fixtures which, he added, “is gonna sound a lot if we don’t win on Sunday… If we win, suddenly three/four games from nine doesn’t sound so bad.” In his post-match interview Pardew mused that “if we had lost today, winning five from nine wouldn’t have been do-able because we are not firing on all cylinders.”
Despite the win, and welcome though it is being the first since February 5th, it would be unwise to think securing another three or four will be straightforward. Newcastle face a tricky test away at West Brom next week and then Liverpool at home on the 6th. This is then followed quickly by a trip to high-flying Swansea on the 9th. These are tough fixtures for a team that Pardew sees as ‘unbalanced’, but as he reminded us, winning when not playing at your best is an important ‘ingredient’ in football, and one that Newcastle will surely need in greater quantities over the coming weeks.
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