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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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By ESPN Staff

Shepherd hails Shearer as the greatest

Newcastle will not be drawn on whether a statue of Alan Shearer is to one day stand alongside the bust of Jackie Milburn, but chairman Freddy Shepherd has no hesitation in describing the £15million striker as the best signing the club have ever made.

Shearer equalled Milburn's scoring record for the Magpies on Saturday, striking his 200th goal to earn Newcastle a 1-0 win over Mansfield in the FA Cup third round.

Shepherd said that although the transfer fee at the time was thought by many to be well over the odds, Shearer had more than repaid it.

He said: 'When we paid £15million for Shearer a lot of people in football told us they thought we'd made a mistake.

'But he is without doubt, pound for pound, the greatest signing in the club's history. He is a Geordie who is proud to wear the black and white shirt and captain his club.

'We actually felt right from the start that we had made a real steal by getting Shearer - and this has turned out to be the case.

'His goals have brought great pleasure to all of us, and it was fitting in many ways that he got his 200th in the FA Cup and at the Gallowgate End where he used to stand and watch the team as a boy.

'It was a fantastic moment when Alan shot and the ball hit the back of the Gallowgate net for his 200th goal.

'I'm sure it won't be long now before he goes on and sets a new record and that will be another special moment.'

Newcastle will face League Two opposition in the form of either Chester or Cheltenham in the fourth round of the FA Cup, and Shepherd believes that in the context of the upsets of the weekend, the result against Mansfield was excellent.

He told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle: 'After looking at Manchester United at Burton Albion and Spurs and Fulham losing to Leicester City and Leyton Orient, our result against Mansfield was a great one.'

Meanwhile, out-of-favour Lens defender Yoann Lachor is expected to Newcastle later this week.

The 29-year-old Frenchman is currently undergoing a trial with the Magpies and should sign a permanent deal once he passes a medical at St James' Park.

Lachor, whose contract with the Ligue 1 outfit ends in June this year, has been with Lens for nine years but has made just three appearances this season.

'In Yoann's interest we will not go against his departure if we find an agreement that suits everyone,' said Lens sporting director Francis Collado.

'This trial with Newcastle was agreed between all parties, Yoann, the English club, the player's agent, we the managers and [coach] Francis Gillot.'