Mon 29 Jan 2024, 11:59 by Ash Harrison

Eddie Howe still has his sights set on a top-four finish despite shaky first half of season

Eddie Howe still has his sights set on a top-four finish despite shaky first half of season
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After finishing fourth in the Premier League last season, expectations were high for Newcastle United coming into this season.

Some good recruitment in the summer only further added to that hope, but it didn't take long for the wheels to pop off like a clown car when key players started picking up long-term injuries, our big summer signing got slapped with a 10-month ban and strange VAR calls conspired to take results away from us in several competitions.

All these things are part and parcel of the beautiful game, obviously, but you can't help feel we've had more than our fair share of them this year.

Newcastle have a lot of catching up to do in the back half of the campaign

Now Newcastle sit in 10th spot in the Premier League with shocking away form and some horror results in the books.

Eddie Howe
Serena Taylor via Getty Images
14 points? I got this, bruv!

Added to that, the squad is still miles off being anywhere near the level it was last year thanks to injuries, but Eddie Howe has told the gathered reporters this morning in his pre-Aston Villa conference that he feels his side can close the gap to the top four (via The Chronicle).

"The gap is not big, and a run of form can change everything. We are not looking at our season being over or being negative. It is all to play for and we still have the FA Cup."

Eddie Howe believes the 14-point gap to the top is not insurmountable

The gap, to save you looking, is currently 14 points between us and fourth-place Aston Villa. That's pretty big if you ask us. Granted that gets cut down to 11 if we manage to pull off a win at Aston Villa tomorrow night, but that's also still a hefty gap.

We love the confidence and the fact that Howe's not throwing in the towel but nothing we've seen so far this season has suggested that we can close that gap.

That being said, stranger things have happened, and in fact, Eddie Howe has closed bigger gaps while Newcastle boss, albeit at the other end of the table where those teams we were chasing were less likely to pick up points.

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