Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas insists Newcastle must now be regarded as one of the country’s top sides.
The Magpies face Villas-Boas’ struggling team on Saturday looking to extend a great run of form that has seen them lose only one Premier League game this season.
A victory for Chelsea would end fourth-placed Newcastle’s unbeaten home record and take the Blues above them in the table.
“They’ve been on a good run and gained confidence from that,” said Villas-Boas.
“It’s a major football club which finds itself in an excellent position. They are fully motivated so it will be an excellent challenge for us.”
Chelsea will also be looking to improve their dismal record against top-seven sides this season.
Defeats against Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool have increased the pressure on Villas-Boas, who admitted: “Our form against the top teams has not been good enough. It’s a fact.
“But, to be fair, of the top [seven] teams in the table, we still have to play three of them.”