Premier League preview: Tottenham v Newcastle
Newcastle will be looking to kick further clear of the relegation zone when they meet Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
The Geordies are enjoying a good recent run of form, having recorded their first away win of the season against Aston Villa (2-1) and having toppled heavyweights Chelsea (3-2) in the past fortnight.
Newcastle are now six points clear of the drop zone and will be keen to increase the gap between themselves and the bottom three this weekend.
But it's not going to be an easy proposition, as they must earn a result against a Tottenham side who are unbeaten in their past nine Premier League fixtures.
Adding to the enormity of the task is the fact that Spurs haven't tasted defeat at home in the league since November 3 when Wigan accounted for them 1-0.
Not to mention the fact fourth-placed Tottenham will be eager to maintain breathing space between themselves and fifth-placed Everton for a Champions League berth with only three points currently separating the two teams.
And Newcastle's recent history at White Hart Lane doesn't make for good reading either with Tottenham winning the last three fixtures between the two sides at the ground – including a 5-0 hammering a year ago.
But the Toon army will surely garner confidence from their last meeting with Tottenham when they beat the north London club 2-1 at St James' Park.
That served as one of just six losses Spurs have suffered all campaign and ended Newcastle's four-year drought against them.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew believes his team are riding high at the moment and Spurs should be wary of an unknown quantity this weekend.
"Tottenham is a difficult one, but we are going to go there with renewed vigour - we have some 'je ne sais quoi' in the team - and hopefully get something there," Pardew said.
Pardew also said his team was out to avenge the five-goal hammering they received from Spurs last February.
"Last year when we were flying, it was a real disappointment for us that day. We were well beaten, so we need to put that right," he said.
Pardew is also hopeful of a repeat performance from Moussa Sissoko who scored two goals on home debut in a match-winning effort against Chelsea last week.
"Sissoko has announced his arrival," Pardew said.
"He won't get as much time and space perhaps as he got on Saturday because teams are going to be wary of him, but he enjoyed himself. It was a brilliant performance."
Boosting Newcastle's chances will be the absence of Tottenham's Jermain Defoe who could miss as much as two months with an ankle injury.
"Jermain's ankle does not look so good," Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said.
"He will have a scan in the morning and we will assess it from there. He is certainly out of the Newcastle game next weekend, for sure."
Villas-Boas intimated Gareth Bale may assume a more attacking role to help fill the void left by Defoe.
"When we played pre-season, Gareth played alone in the striker role and it is something he feels comfortable with," Villas-Boas said.
"He gives us even that possibility for sure. It is something we have to look to. You just have to adapt to it in the best way you can."