Pardew aiming for dream finish
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has promised an all-out assault on Champions League qualification in a bid for a "special" end to an outstanding season.
The Magpies climbed to within three points of third-placed Arsenal with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Stoke which left them four points clear of Chelsea in sixth. They head for relegation-threatened Wigan next weekend knowing victory there would ensure a potentially thrilling conclusion to the campaign with Manchester City due on Tyneside either side of trips to Chelsea and Everton.
Pardew said: "That is a big, big achievement by us, make no mistake. I am pretty sure Liverpool can't catch us and to finish above them, regardless of their cup exploits, is still outstanding. Whatever we do now, it's an outstanding season."
He added: "But of course, we haven't lost sight of what the city hasn't lost sight of. You can feel it in the crowd, you can feel it in the city, that there's a chance for us to do something really special, and we will go to Wigan and try to achieve that."
Asked if his team is now the one to beat in the race for the Champions League, Pardew replied: "We have got momentum and it's a dangerous tool to have in your locker.
"We are playing with confidence, we have got ourselves in a fantastic position - perhaps even better than we thought we might be in - and the confidence was there for everyone to see on the pitch today.
"Everybody is contributing. This isn't about one player or one person, it's a combination of a lot of things that have gone on at this football club from [owner] Mike Ashley down, and everybody deserves the credit they are getting."
Stoke boss Tony Pulis was left to reflect on missed opportunities, although in truth, the Magpies could have won even more handsomely.
He said: "Jon Walters really could have scored a hat-trick by himself. The main difference was they got in good scoring opportunities and hit the target; we got in good scoring opportunities and we didn't hit the target.
"I don't think their keeper had a save to make. I am not picking on Jon - Jon has been fantastic for us. He's a great lad and he kept going and kept going. But he had three great chances today by himself, never mind the rest of the team."