Alan Pardew treating every Newcastle game as a cup final

Magpies remain close to the relegation zone

Alan Pardew will adopt a cup final mentality as he attempts to guide Newcastle out of relegation trouble.

The Magpies won for the first time in seven attempts in all competitions, and just the third in 15 in the league, when they survived a second-half fightback at fellow strugglers Aston Villa on Tuesday to ease themselves four points clear of the drop zone.

However, their situation remains parlous and they entertain European champions Chelsea tomorrow knowing that, with Tottenham waiting in the wings next weekend and the sides below them showing signs of life, that advantage could evaporate quickly.

Newcastle will tackle the Blues with renewed optimism, but Pardew will set his players no targets other than the obvious one.

He said: "Obviously, there is one massive target which we mustn't lose focus on, and that's to stay in the Premier League.

"We are just going from game to game with a cup final mentality, and we will take that into Chelsea."

Tuesday's 2-1 victory was just what Pardew needed after receiving the financial backing of owner Mike Ashley to revitalise a squad riven by the departure of leading scorer Demba Ba, Cheick Tiote's presence at the African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast and an injury crisis which had exposed a worrying lack of depth.

The Magpies will hope the rebuilding work, some of which they now freely admit should have been done last summer, will help to redress the balance, and the early contributions of full-back Mathieu Debuchy and midfielder Moussa Sissoko in particular have helped to dispel some of the gloom at St James' Park.

However, while the new boys have made encouraging starts to life on Tyneside, the renaissance of a more established player has been equally pleasing for Pardew.

Twelve months ago, striker Papiss Cisse exploded onto the Premier League scene with 13 goals in his first 14 appearances after completing a January move from Freiburg.

He has looked a shadow of that player for much of the current campaign, with Pardew citing Yohan Cabaye's lengthy injury absence as a significant factor, but the way he moved into space to accept Sissoko's pass and then confidently beat Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan suggested to his manager that he is finally back on track.

Pardew said: "When you are making runs and don't get any reward, there's a tendency to stop making them.

"He was getting a bit frustrated and was forcing and being offside, when he was timing his runs so much better last year.

"Then suddenly he got his goal and his runs now look on time and he looks a different prospect. Chelsea will have to be on their guard against him."

Rafael Benitez's men will arrive on Tyneside still smarting from their failure to defend a 2-0 lead at struggling Reading, the latest mishap in an indifferent run of form.

Pardew added: "Just recently, a little bit of pressure has fallen their way because of a few draws when they have actually looked like they were going to win the game.

"There's a slight question mark, for them even, of getting over the line. Sometimes you play really well but you can't get over the line and get the win, and that's probably where they are.

"That's what they will be searching for against us, so I am hoping we can stay in the game and they get edgy towards the end and hopefully we can see a victory out."

PA

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<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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