Alan Pardew has talked up the possibility of Newcastle finishing in a Champions League qualification place after his side drew level with fourth-placed Tottenham yesterday.
Inspired by livewire Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa, the Magpies ground out a 2-0 win over Bolton on Monday – their fifth league win in a row – to take full advantage of Tottenham’s 2-1 home defeat to Norwich.
But even though they have the same number of points as Spurs with the same number of games to go, Newcastle still find themselves 7/2 outsiders to clinch a top four spot with bwin.
Tottenham are odds-on at 11/20, while sixth-placed Chelsea, two points adrift of Spurs and Newcastle, are available at 9/4.
Pardew: “This week could be important for us because if the [FA Cup] semi-final results go our way, we could be in Europe, I think, by next weekend.”
Even so, Pardew believes his side can prove equal to the task, particularly if the pressure of securing a Europa League place is removed with a Liverpool win against Everton in the all-Merseyside FA Cup semi-final on Saturday.
With the Reds already qualified for the Europa League through their Carling Cup success, their appearance in the final would ensure that Newcastle could qualify for a place in Europe by virtue of finishing in the top six.
This, Pardew believes, would enhance the Magpies’ chances of finishing in the top four.
“This week could be important for us because if the [FA Cup] semi-final results go our way, we could be in Europe, I think, by next weekend,” he commented.
“If that works in our favour then, really, there is nothing left to go for but the Champions League.
At odds of 7/2, a successful £25 free bet on Newcastle finishing in the top four is set to return £112.50, with the free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.
Newcastle have a perilous-looking run-in, with away trips against Chelsea and in-form Everton to come and Manchester City still to visit the Sports Direct Arena.
But, as Harry Redknapp pointed out after his side’s loss to Norwich, there are no easy games in the Premier League and given the Magpies’ run of five consecutive league wins they should not be discounted from the reckoning – particularly given their price of 7/2.
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