Pardew postpones anniversary party

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Published: Friday 5th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will put any anniversary celebrations on hold as he seeks to secure what would rank as one of the most famous wins of his turbulent reign at St James’ Park.

Next week will mark four years since Pardew succeeded Chris Hughton as Magpies boss despite many – perhaps sometimes even Pardew himself – predicting he would never survive to see such a milestone.

But a run of just one Barclays Premier League defeat in nine has lifted much of the immediate pressure off Pardew’s shoulders and convinced him his side can rise to the occasion and become the first this season to sink Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.

Pardew said: “I haven’t really thought about it (the anniversary) at this stage because this game takes precedence over anything like that and I will probably review it some other time.

“As a coach it’s the same as the players – you’ve got to rise to the occasion and I can’t wait for the game and I hope the players are feeling the same way.

“Getting on the same pitch as the likes of (Eden) Hazard and (Diego) Costa and (Cesc) Fabregas is fantastic and you’ve got to raise your game. If you are not going to get inspired by that then don’t play.”

Newcastle’s dramatic recent revival has stalled slightly with defeat at West Ham and a frustrating midweek draw at Burnley but Pardew is boosted by the return of Moussa Sissoko – who scored the winner against Chelsea two seasons ago – and Jack Colback for the Saturday lunchtime clash.

But he has injury worries elsewhere with goalkeeper Tim Krul ruled out until the new year with an ankle injury and captain Fabricio Coloccini unlikely to be risked as he struggles for match fitness following his return from a hamstring strain.

Pardew’s survival against the odds this season is exemplified in the way his players have battled back from a dismal start to the campaign and fostered the kind of team spirit that he believes will ensure they continue to improve.

And it means he has no fears about taking the game to a Chelsea side he believes is probably the best he has seen since he grew up watching the club in his youth.

Pardew added: “I think mentally we’re in a strong position and our confidence is high – we’ve had one defeat in nine and we have a good kind of spirit and we’re still learning lessons along the way.

“We learned at Burnley that you have got to put the ball at risk and take chances in the game and that even against the so-called lesser opposition you still have to take risks.

“Especially against Champions League teams, if you’re not going to take risks you’re not going to make forward runs and you’re not going to threaten the opposition and you’ll get beaten, so we need to threaten against Chelsea.”

Mourinho believes Newcastle reserve the “game of their lives” for his Chelsea side, but “look like they are playing friendlies” against other Barclays Premier League rivals.

The former Real Madrid boss will chase a first league win as Chelsea boss at St James’ Park on Saturday, confirming Diego Costa will start up front after suspension.

Spain hitman Costa missed Wednesday’s 3-0 Stamford Bridge victory over Tottenham, with Didier Drogba and Loic Remy both on target.

Even with the return of their prolific summer signing, though, Mourinho knows his runaway league leaders face a tough test at Newcastle – where the Blues can set a new club-record of 24 games without defeat.

“When they see the Chelsea shirts they play the game of their lives, and against other teams they look like they are playing friendlies,” said Mourinho.

“It’s difficult; it’s a difficult stadium to play (in).

“Maybe this is because Chelsea in the last decade has become a strong team that everyone wants to beat.”

Published: Friday 5th December 2014 by The News Editor

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