Alan Pardew backs under-fire Andre Villas-Boas


Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has rubbished suggestions that his Chelsea counterpart Andre Villas-Boas is under pressure ahead of tomorrow's Barclays Premier League clash in the north-east.

Villas-Boas saw his side's brief revival crumble in a midweek Carling Cup quarter-final defeat to Liverpool but Pardew is convinced the young Chelsea boss can turn his fortunes around.

Pardew said: "They are having a tough spell but they have had them before. His side is filled with icons of the Premier League, fantastic players, and they will come here and put their reputations on the line.

"The new manager has got a job where he is trying to put changes in and that is always very, very difficult with an established group like they are. But I think he will get that right."

Wigan welcome Arsenal to the DW Stadium in buoyant mood after moving off the bottom of the table with their dramatic 2-1 win at Sunderland last week which accounted for Black Cats boss Steve Bruce.

Latics boss Roberto Martinez said: "These games are always open. Arsenal have got a fantastic philosophy and they are a real example in world football. We admire them and in a way, we would love to emulate that."

Meanwhile Norwich boss Paul Lambert is hoping Manchester City's inability to tie down qualification for the next stage of the Champions League will boost the Canaries' chances at the Etihad Stadium.

City have a decisive showdown with Bayern Munich looming and Lambert said: "It is a must-win game for them against Bayern. Whether they view us as a match they should win, that will be their manager's prerogative."

Rock-bottom Blackburn know the pressure on unpopular boss Steve Kean may become unbearable if they follow their Carling Cup exit to Cardiff with defeat at home to another Welsh club, Swansea, at Ewood Park.

Meanwhile third-placed Tottenham are also bidding to bounce back from midweek disappointment as they host Bolton with their Europa League future hanging by a thread.

Ashley Young returns to Villa Park for the first time since his summer move to Manchester United, with Villa hoping Stiliyan Petrov is back from a hamstring injury as they look to return to winning ways against Sir Alex Ferguson's men.

West Brom travel to west London to face QPR looking to recover from the news that influential midfielder Zoltan Gera has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a ruptured anterior ligament.