Nik and Al frustrated by away form

Last updated : 28 January 2003 By Martyn Elliott

With only nine points away from home so far this season compared to 24 at the same stage of last term it’s easy to see why.

"It is difficult to know why this is happening away from home. Maybe it is the nature of the team," Dabizas told the Evening Chronicle.

"At home we don't have to defend for such long periods and we put the opposition under pressure. We've done really well at home but away from home it is a different story because we have to defend from the very start.

"You have to have quality players to defend away from home. We have those but maybe we're lacking that extra thing. I don't know what it is."

Shearer added: "We are third top of the Premier League with a four point cushion over Chelsea but we still need to push on.

"Our away record is not great. There's no hiding that fact.

"Last season we won at both Tottenham and Boro and we have to improve our away return this term."

With Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United still to come to St James’ Park the away form has to improve quickly for us to mount a serious title or Champions League qualification bid.