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Pardew: Mou's Blues are title class


Alan Pardew has backed Chelsea to make a strong title challenge

Alan Pardew has backed Chelsea to make a strong title challenge

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Alan Pardew has backed Chelsea to make a strong title challenge

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has dismissed Jose Mourinho's claims that Chelsea are not genuine contenders for this season's Barclays Premier League title.

Chelsea's 51-year-old Portuguese manager was quick to play down his side's hopes of overhauling Arsenal and Manchester City after Monday night's 1-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium, which left them just two points off top spot.

However, Pardew, who takes the Magpies to Stamford Bridge tomorrow is not so sure about the claim from Mourinho, who won the league twice at Chelsea in his first spell.

He said: "I don't believe that for one minute - and I think deep down, nor does Jose."

Newcastle head for the capital in disarray both on and off the pitch with injuries and suspensions, as well as Yohan Cabaye's exit, hindering Pardew, while behind the scenes, the club is in a state of flux once again.

The departure of controversial director of football Joe Kinnear on Monday was followed by that of reserve team manager Willie Donachie on Thursday night after he resigned as an investigation was launched into allegations that he hit one of his teenage players.

But as owner Mike Ashley contemplated the way forward, with Pardew warning a major summer rebuilding programme is required, the manager was concentrating purely on the business of rekindling a season which is in severe danger of running out of steam.

Newcastle, who sit in eighth place in the table, have won just one of the last seven games they have played in all competitions, and the last of them prompted a concerted outcry on Tyneside.

A 3-0 home defeat by derby rivals Sunderland for the second successive season, just days after Cabaye was sold to Paris St Germain and not replaced, sparked a furious backlash.

Pardew, whose side will have home advantage against Tottenham next Wednesday evening, said: "It's an important period because we have got two really tough games - I think everybody would appreciate that - but we really do need to put a performance on the pitch that contains enthusiasm, desire and a real purpose, and that's what we are going to do."

That could be easier said than done this weekend with Chelsea unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions and having not lost on their own pitch in the league since QPR snatched a 1-0 victory there on January 2 last year.

Newcastle returned from Stamford Bridge with three points in May 2012 and have beaten the Blues at St James' Park on their last two visits.

However, with Fabricio Coloccini, Cheick Tiote, Yoan Gouffran and Papiss Cisse all injured and Loic Remy suspended, the odds of them repeating the feat look remote.

Mourinho was less than impressed by West Ham's defensive approach as they secured a 0-0 draw at Chelsea on January 29, and while Pardew does not intend to simply shut up shop, he knows the Magpies will have to be resilient if they are to emerge with any reward.

He said: "You have to defend well. They (Chelsea) need to find a way, and nine times out of 10, they do. On that occasion, they didn't.

"We all want to see the game played on an even field, end-to-end, but you have to be careful when you are coming up against players of the quality he (Mourinho) has.

"He moans that he doesn't have this and that, but he's got plenty."

Perhaps Pardew's biggest challenge is to find a way to cope without Cabaye, the man through whom everything flowed, something he singularly failed to do against the Black Cats.

Pardew said: "We can't replace him with an individual player because what he brought us, we haven't really got anybody in the group who can do that, so we have to change our style a little bit.

"Obviously against Sunderland, it didn't go well and we have to find a way that's going to work for us to keep us in with a shout of maybe Europe or the top eight."