NEWCASTLE United manager Bobby Robson is quite happy to see the title talk focus away from his own side's Premiership challenge.

Third-placed Magpies will go top of the League tonight should they overcome second-placed Arsenal, and end a 29 game winless run in London, by more than two clear goals at Highbury.

But despite Newcastle's lofty position, Robson is keen to see that football pundits continue to write off his team and tip either the Gunners, Manchester United, Liverpool or Leeds to lift the crown in May.

And, in the knowledge that his side could overtake Liverpool at the pinnacle of the top-flight tonight, the St James' Park chief remains realistic.

"If is the biggest word in English football," said Robson, whose side beat Blackburn over the weekend 2-1 and go to Leeds on Saturday. "And if only we win we could go top, we are aware of that.

"But like I keep saying, we just like to keep a low profile and beavering away.

"I think it was a big win for us on Saturday after losing to Chelsea.

"We had a couple of players out and players had to come in. It was a massive win and it puts us in the position we are in.

"Now we can go into these two away matches without a worry.

"Had we lost to Blackburn we could have looked at it as 'We could lose at Leeds and Arsenal and from the three matches we would not have picked up a point'.

"But instead we have done very well and we are looking to pick up some points from these away matches."

With only Newcastle winning out of the teams in the top four over the weekend, champions Manchester United have been given a life-line after being written off from a challenge by many just last week.

However, two wins in two matches has seen Sir Alex Ferguson's men climb to within six points of the leaders Liverpool, and their odds have been shortened considerably.

And Robson believes the fact that there is such a little gap separating the top seven sides can only be good for the domestic game.

"Nothing is home and dry is it?" said Robson. "It's been the most open it has been for a number of years.

"By this time Man United are normally way ahead and then Arsenal behind, but it is close this year, which is good."

Robson has striker Craig Bellamy back from suspension tonight, while winger Laurent Robert trained on Sunday and he is pushing hard to replace Saturday's goal-hero Olivier Bernard.

But the poser that the former England chief is faced with is a nice problem to have and he admits that he was delighted with Bernard's contribution.

"Bernard is actually a left full-back but we have taught him how to play in that more forward position," said Robson, who must also choose whether to bring back rested Nikos Dabizas for Sylvain Distin at Highbury.

"And he can fill that role as he showed against Blackburn.

"He has done well and now we know if anything happens to Laurent or we want to hold on to a result, Olivier can do that for us.

"It's good for us and Laurent will see that the boy has done very well and we have now got a fight for places. We have now got that across the pitch."

Top-scorer Bellamy should come back in as a direct replacement for Shola Ameobi and Robson has backed the young Welshman to get ever better. "We try to improve him everyday, without taking away his terrific assets," said the 68-year-old.

"We have not got to knock him because he has done very well for us. He has been very penetrative, lethal and he has this side to him which we have to try to improve, he is only 22.

"We have to give him guidance and from a footballing point of view he has been terrific for us.

"I knew what he had and I knew we needed that in the squad. When we bought him we knew he would give the squad that sparkle which we needed.

"He has performed perhaps maybe better than we had thought, we had hoped but hopefully he will continue to respond for us."

l Arsenal tonight kick off a three-match Christmas programme which could have a major bearing on the most congested and exciting title race for years.

Manager Arsene Wenger admitted: ''We are desperate to win it this season.''

Wenger, whose team also face Liverpool on Sunday at Anfield and then Chelsea at Highbury on Boxing Day, is even prepared to go teetotal in order to achieve his aim.

Asked whether he would prefer a case of his favourite Bordeaux red for the festive period or three victories Wenger insisted: ''It is no contest. I'd drink only water for two years if I could guarantee nine points.''

Wenger insisted: ''Newcastle have certainly come right into it, along with Chelsea, and you just can't say at the moment who are your biggest challengers.

''But it is certainly all very tight and that's why we can only think of one game at a time. It is a huge match for us at Liverpool, but at the moment it is only Newcastle who occupy our thoughts.

"Liverpool and Leeds are still strong despite losing points at the weekend and Manchester United, as I've said before, are certainly not out of it.''

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