Pardew aims for fourth by Christmas
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has challenged his players to take the chance to enjoy Christmas dinner sitting in fourth place in the Barclays Premier League table.
The Magpies head into Saturday's home clash with Chelsea lying 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 on Friday, 'Imagine having your Christmas dinner sitting in fourth position'."
He added: "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 re-shaped 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 move 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."