Eddie Howe acknowledges Chelsea threat as three-way race for Europe hots up

Eddie Howe, manager of Newcastle United
Eddie Howe, manager of Newcastle United -Credit:Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Newcastle United gaffer Eddie Howe has acknowledged the intense competition for European spots as the Magpies aim to overtake Manchester United, while also keeping an eye on a Chelsea side that's hitting form at a critical juncture.

With just a handful of matches left, Newcastle's European dreams hang in the balance, and Howe is acutely aware of the challenge ahead. The Toon have a challenging run-in with three away fixtures and a single match at St. James' Park remaining in a season marred by injuries.

Currently sitting one point and one place behind sixth-placed Manchester United, and with Chelsea now only two points adrift after their recent victory, the race for Europe is heating up.

"We know we're going to have to win games to qualify for Europe and we know it's going to be tight," Howe admitted in his latest press briefing. "We're up against top quality teams and Chelsea are in a good vein of form too so I think it will go right to the wire."

Despite a season filled with ups and downs, Chelsea have started to find consistency when it matters most, as evidenced by their convincing win over Spurs. Mauricio Pochettino's squad showcased their potential at Stamford Bridge, intensifying the battle for the coveted European places.

While Chelsea's chances of overtaking their rivals may seem slim with only four fixtures remaining, Pochettino remains confident, believing his team has hit their stride at the perfect moment to make a significant impact on the final standings.

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Following Thursday's victory, the Chelsea coach stated: "In the way that we play, the way we compete, that is what we wanted from the beginning of the season, what we want to apply to the team. Today, we were so competitive. In this way, we can grow, we can do better and we can improve in the areas. It is not easy to create a competitive group of players, we are trying to find this balance. People are starting to realise it is a process, the time that you need."

This weekend sees Newcastle venturing to Burnley, Manchester United squaring off against Crystal Palace, while Chelsea take on ninth-placed West Ham United at Stamford Bridge.