Alan Pardew admits Newcastle have been pitched into battle against Chelsea at just the wrong time, with the Blues brimming with confidence.
The Magpies travel to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday looking to force their way back into the UEFA Champions League places and deal a crushing blow to the top-four ambitions of a rival.
Pardew is, however, aware that a Chelsea side that are unbeaten on home soil this year and have gone 11 games without defeat, including two against Barcelona, will pose a considerable threat to his troops.
"It has to be a bad time to be playing them," he said.
"Chelsea have momentum and that's a key ingredient of success."
Pardew saw Newcastle slip out of the top four on the back of a shock 4-0 reversal against relegation-haunted Wigan.
He is looking for his players to offer a positive response to that setback when they head to West London, but concedes that the 2011/12 campaign will be viewed as a successful one for Newcastle regardless of what happens in their final three fixtures.
"We're not the only team to come unstuck," he said.
"It happens from time to time and the most important thing is how you react.
"We're looking for a big reaction against a good team, so I don't think there will be any problem in the psychology of our players.
"With three games to go, we're vying with Chelsea and Spurs for a top-four place and I don't need to reflect too much on our season to know that isn't bad."