By Ian Willis
NEWCASTLE ace Nobby Solano admits The Magpies must get back on track sooner rather than later if they are to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for Europe.
After a disappointing start to the campaign, Newcastle took eight points from a possible 12 in a four-game run from September into October, then after a defeat at Wigan in the Premiership, they went on to take maximum points from their next three league games.
But since the break for international fixtures, Graeme Souness' side have lost two of their three league games - as well as being dumped out of the Carling Cup - and Saturday's draw with Aston Villa leaves them lying in 11th place and eight points off fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Solano told nufc.co.uk: "The important thing for us on Saturday against Aston Villa was that we did not lose the game.
"We were disappointed not to win, of course, but after we lost at Chelsea and Everton, and also at Wigan in the Carling Cup, we needed to avoid another defeat.
"We have a lot of games coming up between now and the New Year, and it is an important time for us.
"We have said all the long that we want to get into Europe, and that means getting into either the top four or the top six.
"We are still confident of doing that, but we know we have to start winning matches quickly and getting some points to move up the table.
"A couple of wins makes a big difference and the league table can look a lot better. But if we lose a few more, then we will be making it tough for ourselves."
Arsenal will arrive at St. James' Park looking to bounce back from their defeat at Bolton last weekend, and Arsene Wenger is likely to bring back his big guns having rang the changes for their Champions League game with Ajax with qualification and top spot in their group already assured.
And Solano knows The Gunners will provide a tough test for The Magpies when they arrive on Tyneside.
He added: "They have so many quality players in their side.
"We know it will be a tough game, not just because of the opposition, but because they will have been disappointed to lose at Bolton on Saturday.
"As a team we just have to remain confident, and I am sure things will change for us quickly."
Pre-match build up coming up on Newcastle World TV