Alan Pardew is slowly starting to dream about guiding Crystal Palace into Europe ahead of Saturday’s encounter with former club Newcastle United.
Pardew, who returned to Selhurst Park to take charge in January having left Newcastle, has guided Palace to stunning away wins at Premier League champions Chelsea and Liverpool this season, as well as a draw against Manchester United.
A 1-0 defeat against Sunderland on Monday represented a reality check for Palace, who sit 10th, but Pardew nevertheless has lofty ambitions should his players be able to build momentum.
“We have to get to February to see if we’ve got a chance of Europe. If we’re in the top 10 then, of course, there’s going to be a chance and we’ll attack it,” he told Palace’s official website.
“But we need to get to the end of February first. Our home form has been good this season. We haven’t won them all but they’ve been very close and I expect to win more than we lose at home this year.
“The image of the club is very important. The way we play, the way the club is thought about is very much part of what I want to see. I want to see the club respected across the country, not just for the fans but what we put on the pitch.”
Palace will have to make do without the services of Bakary Sako (hamstring), Dwight Gayle (hamstring) and Kwesi Appiah (knee) when they host Newcastle.
For Newcastle boss Steve McClaren, the injury list continues to make grim reading. Cheick Tiote (groin), Rolando Aarons (ankle), Jack Colback (knee), Tim Krul (knee), Gabriel Obertan (hamstring), Steven Taylor (hamstring), Emmanuel Riviere (knee) and Curtis Good (hip) are all expected to miss out.
Newcastle have collected seven points from their last five games to lift themselves out of the bottom three. Vurnon Anita feels the trip to Palace is a must-win match for McClaren’s men, who slumped to a 3-0 home defeat against leaders Leicester City last weekend.
“We need the win. It will be tough but we must stand there and win our game,” Anita told the Newcastle Chronicle
“We have been better in recent weeks. It is slow progress but we need the points. People only look at the points.
“We didn’t play so well at [AFC] Bournemouth [in their last Premier League away game] but won, everybody was happy. Now we need to focus on the points.”