Queens Park Rangers-Newcastle United Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Manager Alan Pardew thinks Newcastle United aren't far away from turning around their dismal stretch.
They may need to prove that against visiting Queens Park Rangers on Saturday before some rough fixtures potentially result in them becoming reacquainted with the drop zone.
Newcastle (4-5-8) may be the biggest disappointment of the Premier League this season, sitting 15th and just two points above the relegation places. That's a dramatic letdown after the Magpies finished fifth last season.
Pardew, though, remains bullish despite his club's 1-3-7 stretch in all competitions with the lone victory coming against Wigan in league play Dec. 3. Newcastle has been outscored 7-2 during a three-match slide since, including a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City last weekend.
"We had some great performances and are not far away," Pardew told the team's official website. "I've been on runs like this with teams where you don't look like you are going to score, and that is a worry. But we look like we've got bags of goals.
"It's that little bit of resilience, stop giving away soft goals at important times, and things could change."
It better change against QPR since Newcastle's upcoming fixtures include visits to Manchester United and Arsenal before hosting Everton on Jan. 2.
"The gaffer said that the next one was most important, regardless of who it is," defender Mike Williamson said.
Newcastle beat Queens Park Rangers 1-0 at home Jan. 15.
Demba Ba continues to be the Toon's main offensive threat, scoring three goals in three matches after getting his name on the scoresheet versus City. The forward's 11 goals rank one behind Manchester United's Robin van Persie and Michu of Swansea City for the Premier League lead.
While Newcastle may be becoming desperate for a victory, QPR are relieved to finally get one.
Rangers, 0-3-6 as the visitor, are trying to build on last weekend's 2-1 win over Fulham, snapping a string of three consecutive draws since manager Harry Redknapp made his debut on the bench.
"It would have been a gross injustice if we hadn't won the game," Redknapp told the team's official website. "We've played well in all the games, had three draws and now we've got our first win. Six points from four games is good form by anyone's standard and we've deserved them."
It's been good enough to elevate QPR out of the Premier League cellar, but they're still well off the pace for safety.
That's led to rumours that chairman Tony Fernandes may abandon the club if it's relegated. He refuted those claims earlier this week.
"Come what may, in May, we'll still be here," he told the team's official website. "I'm firmly committed to the club. I'm not someone who's going to run away from things.
"We inherited a club that needed a hell of a lot of work and we'll continue to progress with our short, medium and long term goals."
Adel Taarabt has his own goals to improve upon, two against the Cottagers to be precise. The Moroccan midfielder hadn't tallied in nine matches.
He has six goals in 46 Premier League matches since leading Queens Park Rangers with 19 in the Championship two seasons ago.
Updated December 20, 2012