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Pardew hoping derby doesn't ruin his Christmas

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will head into the Tyne-Wear derby hoping the result does not ruin his Christmas lunch.

The 53-year-old insists the clash with neighbours Sunderland is the biggest he has been involved in regularly during his career as both a player and manager, and the latest instalment of the rivalry at St James' Park tomorrow is one which carries particular weight.

Pardew's men have been beaten by the Black Cats in each of their last three meetings, and no Newcastle boss has lost four derbies in a row. He said: "I've been lucky enough to play in cup finals, but if any manager asked me, 'What's the biggest game you've been involved in', I'd say Newcastle v Sunderland.

"The electricity of this game really is something else, and you have to be at it to appreciate it. I'm looking forward to experiencing that again - the end, not so much if you lose.

"Particularly around Christmas time when it's goodwill to all men, the gravy is going to be a bit lumpy if we lose, so it's important to win."

The derby comes at the end of a difficult week for the Magpies, who lost 4-1 at Arsenal in the Premier League last Saturday and then 4-0 at Tottenham in the League Cup four days later.

However, that double setback ended a positive period for the club and Pardew knows a return to winning ways this weekend could lay the foundation for a good season.

The manager said: "Change the season? No. The perception of the season? Perhaps, because if Sunderland win, the perception will be that they've had a decent first half (of the season); if we win, it will be a really good first half.

"That's the perception, but points-wise, it's three points and we can't get away from that. We're in a great position in the league, and if we win we take ourselves right back amongst the top six again.

"This is the period when top teams come through. There's no mystery to me that Spurs, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea are all picking up now. They have bigger squads and they're in the groove. There's no European games, so if you want to make an impact, you have to do it in December.

"We've got tough games and we have to try to get the best results we can. If we can get through to January in this position, I'd take it now."