Guthrie: Magpies can keep flying

BY foxsports • January 20, 2012

The Magpies head for Fulham on Saturday having eased themselves back into the top six as a result of last Saturday's 1-0 win over QPR, splitting Arsenal and Liverpool in the process.

Few onlookers expected Alan Pardew's side to maintain their fine start to the campaign, and although they did encounter an extended period of turbulence as 2011 drew to a close, they have won four of their last five games in all competitions to rekindle hopes that they can make an unlikely bid for a top-six finish.

Asked if they can sustain their drive, Guthrie said: "We are there now, so... We just look at it like that.

"We want to get to 40 points and then start looking up then, take each game as it comes.

"We will be in February soon and still sixth, hopefully."

The next few weeks, when Pardew will be without influential midfielder Cheick Tiote, star striker Demba Ba and new big-money signing Papiss Demba Cisse, who are all away on African Nations Cup duty, could prove key to their ambitions.

However, the competition for places within the squad is as strong as ever despite the summer departures of Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique, and Guthrie believes that has already proved a major factor.

The 24-year-old said: "That's one of the reasons we are where we are, because the players who have been starting know the players who are not in the team can come in keep the team winning.

"It gives everyone that bit of edge and competition that makes the great teams successful."

Guthrie speaks from a position of strength after having to wait for his chance to line up in a midfield in which Tiote and Yohan Cabaye have been outstanding all season, while Jonas Gutierrez and now Hatem Ben Arfa have enhanced their reputations.

The former Liverpool player has had to fight for a place ever since his arrival on Tyneside during the summer of 2008, and admits the current crop of midfielders is the best yet.

He said: "I think it's the best mix we have had.

"We have got a bit of everything - we have got aggressive tacklers, sitters and ones who can score goals, so we have got a very good mix of players."

By the end of next month, those midfielders will hope to provide the supply lines to new arrival Cisse and 15-goal sidekick Ba as they attempt to fire the Magpies to a rousing conclusion to a campaign which is threatening to exceed all expectations.

Tyneside has been buzzing since the 26-year-old Senegal international jetted in to complete a medical and sign in a deal understood to be worth in the region of £10million.

That excitement has extended to the dressing room, where Guthrie and his team-mates are eagerly anticipating the former Freiburg man's arrival.

He said: "Any time there's a new signing, it's good. Obviously, we have spent a lot of money and the manager has put his faith in him.

"We have got a new number nine, so the fans will be happy."

Pardew, who could be without Cabaye on Saturday because of the ankle problem he suffered last weekend, is well aware of the stir he has created by landing Cisse, and is confident his swoop will send out a message both to the club's fans and the rest of the Premier League.

He said: "We must understand that it's still very difficult in the Premier League to win, and QPR proved that last week.

"But I don't think people are under-estimating us where maybe they did at some parts of this season.

"We are now being taken very, very seriously and teams are starting to give us different problems with how to break them down, or whatever.

"There are new agendas on the horizon."


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