Taylor enjoys top-flight safety

BY foxsports • May 14, 2011

The Magpies emerged from the Championship last summer knowing the only aim for their first campaign back in the Premier League would be to remain there. Their investment in the playing staff during the close-season was modest by top-flight standards, and the doom-mongers predicted a long, tough campaign. However, last Saturday's 2-1 home victory over Birmingham, in which Taylor scored on his return to the starting line-up, ensured they will remain alongside the big boys and can now start planning the next stage of their climb back to the loftier status they once enjoyed. Taylor, who has experienced all the highs and lows of life at St James' Park during his career to date, said: "You are playing with players who you know are giving 100% every week and they want to be here playing. "It means more. Everybody knows how much togetherness we have in this squad. "Getting relegated has definitely helped Newcastle, it's pulled us through. "At the start of the season, everyone had us down for the bottom three all year. "We have proved a lot of people wrong and now we can just relax a bit and enjoy it and see how things go now." The pressure may be off the Magpies as they make their way to Stamford Bridge perhaps relieved they do not need to return with something to show for their efforts. However, that will not change their approach, other than manager Alan Pardew's decision to rest key midfielder Cheick Tiote to prevent him picking up a 15th booking of the season and a three-match ban. Taylor said: "The main thing, we said at the start of pre-season in Ireland, was survival and once we got that, it was a good season. "Now where we are, why not go for it and try to get the six points and hit the top 10?" That may be easier said than done, however, with Chelsea finishing strongly until last weekend's apparently fatal setback at Manchester United, although Newcastle won 4-3 at Stamford Bridge in the Carling Cup in September and drew 1-1 with the Blues on Tyneside in the league two months later. Taylor and central defensive partner Fabricio Coloccini face the prospect of trying to keep quiet whichever combination of Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Fernando Torres manager Carlo Ancelotti decides to field, but the former England Under-21s skipper is relishing the challenge. He said: "The options they have got are unbelievable, but for us, they are just names. "We will give them the respect they deserve, but we have to think about how we play and we are going to go out to enjoy it. "Their team is full of world-class players, but we played them at St James' and we got a good draw, and hopefully we can get something down there. "There's no reason why we can't if we perform like we did against Birmingham because we put on one of our best team performances of the season. "We are going to take the game to them, enjoy our football and get the ball down and pass it. "That's what we did in the second half against Birmingham, and we will see where that gets us." With Tiote missing and captain Kevin Nolan recovering from ankle surgery, Pardew faces a big decision over his midfield, and he has indicated that Alan Smith is unlikely to go straight into the starting line-up on his return from ankle ligament damage. But youngsters Shane Ferguson, Kazenga LuaLua, Greg McDermott and Sammy Ameobi, the younger brother of Shola, could be involved.


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