McClaren backs Toon title bid

Last updated : 05 March 2003 By Martyn Elliott

Victory tonight would see us climb to within five points of the Gunners at the top of the Premiership table, but even so it takes some imagination when comparing our run in with theirs to think that Arsene Wenger’s side will drop enough points for us to become champions.

But McClaren told the pre-match press conference: "Newcastle have got the same number of points as Manchester United and they have also got them to play. They are playing well and have a good squad. I'm sure if Arsenal slip up, Newcastle will be there or thereabouts ready to cash in.

"I think they can challenge because they are in a good position. What they need to do is win every game and that's what the pressure is at the top. Draws are no good because you can get left behind.

"It's a crucial stage of the season because the teams challenging for the Champions League places know they have to keep winning.

"With ten games to go you can't afford any slip-ups. You have got to say they are now catching up. They are up there with United and Arsenal and they are playing with a lot of confidence.

"There has been a huge investment. Both stadium wise and player wise. The pressure is now on them to stay there. They have to be consistent like Arsenal and United have been."

Genuine sentiments or just a cynical attempt to put pressure on us ahead of the game our players are well aware of what is at stake and will approach the game with the confidence that a long unbeaten run generates.

After the controversial original postponement of the fixture a win would be even sweeter than normal.