NEWCASTLE CONTINUE THEIR surge for a Europa League spot when they head to Swansea on Friday in the Premier League.
A 2-0 win over hapless Liverpool keeps Newcastle level on 53 points with fifth-placed Chelsea with seven games remaining and still bears hope of a Champions League spot with Arsenal and Tottenham five points ahead in third and fourth respectively.
Papiss Cisse’s double put Liverpool to the sword and consigned Andy Carroll to little more than an ill-tempered cameo return to the club before he was substituted in the second half in what was the latest of a string of impressive victories for the reinvigorated club this campaign.
In the event Newcastle fail to secure European football of any sort, the season will be nothing short of a roaring success, with Newcastle almost assured of at least sixth place given their 10-point gap over Everton (seventh). Carroll’s infamous departure has yet to work out for Liverpool but the portion of the 35-million pounds recouped from his sale spent on Cisse has been vindicated according to manager Alan Pardew, who likened the Senegalese striker’s influence to that of club legend Alan Shearer.
“You could have blinked and thought it was Alan Shearer — he put that sort of performance in against Liverpool,” Pardew said. ”I could not pay him a higher tribute than that. Alan Shearer would have been purring about him. He has been tremendous in everything he has done.”
Newcastle will again have to do without defenders Fabricio Coloccini (hamstring) and Stephen Taylor (Achilles) as well as injured strikers Leon Best and Shola Ameobi (both knee). Swansea on the other hand, have a relatively clean bill of health.
The Welsh club have one of the strongest home records in the league, meaning a win for Newcastle is far from assured. The Swans will also be eager to keep their talented manager Brendan Rogers at the club following rumours of a host of potential top-flight suitors during the week.
The Northern Irishman has been the key orchestrator of Swansea’s highly successful first taste of Premier League football but the lure of trophies may be too tempting an offer to keep him at the Welsh club.
For now his focus will be firmly on Newcastle and preventing what would be only a fourth home defeat in 16 matches at the Liberty Stadium this season. Swansea fell 3-1 to a fluid Tottenham side at White Hart Lane on Sunday despite playing their usual enterprising brand of football and sit 11th on 39 points among a group of eight sides within six points.