ALAN Pardew says tomorrow’s visit to Tottenham Hotspur will be one of the toughest games Newcastle United have left this season - even with Jermain Defoe missing for the home side.
Pardew’s team were drubbed 5-0 at White Hart Lane last season, when the club was managed by Harry Redknapp, then tipped for the vacant England post.
And an improving Newcastle will be up against it in North London, according to Pardew, who praised the “quiet” job Andre Villas-Boas is doing at Spurs in his pre-match Press conference.
Tottenham, fourth in the Premier League, are chasing a Champions League place, while United are looking to build on successive victores over Chelsea and Aston Villa and pull further away from the relegation zone.
“It’s difficult - it’s a tough game,” Pardew said. “I envisage it to be as tough a game as we’ve had all year.
“You look at our run-in and you’d have to say Man City is probably our toughest game, and this will be the second-toughest, in my opinion. That’s where it sits in the games we’ve got left outside of Europe.”
Villas-Boas will be without Defoe, and he is expected to press Emmanuel Adebayor, back from the African Cup of Nations after Togo’s elimination, straight into action after just one training session.
Pardew worked with Defoe during his time at West Ham United, and his absence, at least, is a positive for Newcastle.
“I’ve managed Jermain at West Ham,” said Pardew. “He’s a terrific player and when a team doesn’t have a player like that available, it’s a blow. We’re pleased that he’s not (playing).”
Pardew has been without a number of key players this week because because of Wednesday night’s round of international games, but the atmosphere at United’s training ground has been far from subdued after last weekend’s remarkable 3-2 win over Chelsea.
“It’s a different feel in terms of our workers and our sub-contractors, who are Newcastle fans,” added Pardew. “There’s a real optimism about the team, and that’s carried through to the training ground.
“Even though we’ve had a lot of the boys away, there’s a different energy there.
“As I say, that all comes from confidence, and we’re going there in real good heart. Last year when we went there (White Hart Lane), we had a really tough day.”