Tony Pulis’ saw his side beaten by Liverpool on Wednesday night despite taking the lead and matching the efforts of their Merseyside visitors. The Potters have yet to fully feel the strain a Europa League campaign can have on a squad although Pulis has managed to strengthen in every area to counteract the stresses European football brings. Their record at home this season is superb having managed to avoid defeat whilst they’ve lost only once in the league at the Britannia during 2011. Peter Crouch’s influence up front have been a big plus point since his summer move with the performances of Jon Walters, Matthew Etherington and Kenwyne Jones also encouraging. With Stoke’s height it’s no surprise that 71% of their goals have come from set pieces and they’ll need to utilise that to the maximum against a visiting defence that has been watertight so far this campaign. Despite that they’ve had only 22 shots on goal so they’ll need to find a way of breaking through the Newcastle rearguard if they are to maintain their impressive record at home. Despite the misconception that they are a side built on a long ball philosophy Stoke play more football than they are given credit for. Their hard working approach is also something that is usually overshadowed and they’ll be sure to run their socks off to ensure victory on Monday. Jonathan Woodgate could provide a presence in both penalty areas with the former Toon defender keen to face his former club after making his comeback in midweek.
He’ll certainly be impressed by his former clubs start to the season after they made it 12 Premier League games unbeaten with a 1-0 win over Wigan last week – that record stretching back to last season. Yohan Cabaye was the hero for the Toon scoring his first goal for the club to secure all three points and keep them performing above expectations. The Magpies have been impressive all season long with boss Alan Pardew continuing to confound the critics by getting every last drop out of his side. He did just that on Wednesday as the Geordies came back from two down against Blackburn in the Carling Cup only lose 4-3 in extra time. That was their first defeat of the season and they’ll need to shake it off before they travel to Stoke. A performance in the same mould as the one where they gifted the Potters both results last season, including a 4-0 hammering, won’t be accepted with Stoke doing the double over them for the first time since 1971. The biggest success of the current campaign has been the defensive displays with captain Fabricio Coloccini leading the charge and coming through each and every challenge laid in front of them. The Potters will pose a different proposition to most teams and Newcastle will need to be on song if they are to beat their hosts for the first time in four league meetings. They could be without two key players with Steven Taylor doubtful after breaking his nose last week whilst Cheick Tiote could be missing with a knee injury.
Jon Walters – The striker has carried on where he left off last season with his bulldozing performances up front giving Stoke an extra edge in the final third. His willingness to chase every ball and put defences under pressure will test Newcastle’s undefeated rearguard to the test on Monday.
Yohan Cabaye – Already hailed as the bargain of the season at £4.5 million the Frenchman has brought a touch of class to the Tynesiders midfield. Nicknamed ‘Dreamboat’ by the clubs twitter followers his guile and tenacious nature has seen him strike up a terrific partnership with Tiote that aided in his adaption to the English game. Will need to be at his creative best to help his side to victory in Stoke.