Pardew: We're taking on Manchester City as equals

The Northern Echo: Pardew: We're taking on Manchester City as equals Pardew: We're taking on Manchester City as equals

THEY might be taking on the side at the top of the Premier League table, but Alan Pardew claims Newcastle United will meet Manchester City as equals when they play their final home game of the season tomorrow.

Roberto Mancini's side travel to Tyneside knowing they will claim their first league title in 44 years if they beat Newcastle and win their final match at home to QPR.

However, the Magpies hardly lack for an incentive of their own after Wednesday's 2-0 win at Chelsea left them level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham and took them to within a point of Arsenal in third position.

Since January 1, Newcastle have claimed just three points less than Manchester City, and Pardew feels his players have every right to consider themselves genuine rivals to the current league leaders when they line up tomorrow afternoon.

"If you look at the two teams, then you'd have to say our team is going to compete with them and I can't pay any greater respect to my side than that," said the Newcastle boss. "They deserve that respect because they've earned it.

"That's about the whole of the team. They've got 35 points since the start of the year - Man City have got 38. We're going to be taking them on, so let's see who comes out on top.

"If anything, I think we've got the advantage because we're at home and our fans make a huge difference to us."

When the sides last met in November, Newcastle were comprehensively outplayed as they suffered their first league defeat of the season.

At that stage, Manchester City were threatening to run away with things, but while Mancini's men have wobbled slightly, especially away from the Etihad Stadium, Pardew feels his own side have gone from strength to strength.

"I would say we've closed that gap," he said. "Back in November, we were upbeat, but looking from the sidelines, I felt there was an extra element to their (Man City's) game.

"But looking at the way we've played against Chelsea and Liverpool recently, I definitely think we've closed the gap."

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