Newcastle United v Stoke City – Match Preview
Newcastle will undoubtedly hope to thrive the comforts of home after successfully completing phase one of their Europa League mission in Moscow on Thursday. Alan Pardew’s side, minus a plethora of first team names, held big spending Anzhi Makhachkala to a goalless draw in Moscow but must now switch their attention to a faltering Premier League campaign. The Magpies head into the weekend six points above the relegation zone after finding it difficult to cope with a demanding schedule during the first half of the season. But their January spending has paid dividends and three wins in five games has given them reason to look up rather than down. Racking up a third straight win at St James’ Park at the expense of Stoke would alleviate any lingering nerves. A repeat of the blistering 3-0 win in this fixture last term certainly wouldn’t go amiss.
The Potters are well aware of the strain the Europa League can put of a squad having reached the last 32 of the competition last season. Given their recent run of one win in nine you’d find it hard to believe that Tony Pulis’ men aren’t currently competing in Europe. Last week’s home defeat against West Ham was their sixth in the last eight games and how they could do with a morale boosting win on Tyneside. But a solitary victory in 14 away trips, a record that has undermined their ambitions of a top-eight finish, its hard to see them heading home with anything on Sunday.
Papiss Cisse (illness) is a doubt for Newcastle, while captain Fabricio Coloccini isn’t expected to play again this season after injuring his back against Southampton two weeks ago.
Theres a possibility Matthew Etherington could feature despite a back problem. Michael Owen has shaken off a thigh complaint and could play against his old club. Robert Huth is banned.
What the managers said…
“We are so much stronger in depth, I think that’s evident. Massadio (Haidara) and Mapou (Yanga-Mbiwa) really and truly are pushing for first team places, and they proved that tonight.(Sylvain) Marveaux is beginning to push as well, and that’s what you want, you want your best players pushed. I am hoping our team will be stronger on Thursday in the return, but I have got to get a result against Stoke and I have got to get a positive result to give me the freedom to do that. I don’t really want to go to Wigan on the back of a defeat by Stoke.” Alan Pardew believes Newcastle’s newfound squad depth can see them through a tricky run of games (Independent)
“When we went ten games unbeaten everything was rosy in the garden. When you haven’t won for while there’s all problems and you have to deal with it and you have to understand that’s the way football is. Football is a reflection of life, it ebbs and flows. You have periods where you think you can rule the world and the next day everything’s on top of you and the world’s against you. You have to accept the good times and the bad times and get on with them.” Tony Pulis insists fan criticism is part of the game (Staffs Live)
Pre-Match Statistic: Stoke could complete a league double over Newcastle for the second time in three seasons after triumphing in the reverse fixture at the Britannia Stadium in late November.
Prediction: Newcastle United 3-1 Stoke City