Stoke City will be after their third consecutive victory when they face a struggling Newcastle United side that has won just two away games all season.
The home side are currently lying in eighth place in the Premier League and heading for another sound finish under Mark Hughes, and they managed it despite only playing at a level somewhere close to their best in fits and starts this season, which underlines the quality waiting to be unleashed at the Britannia Stadium. A case in point came on Saturday, where they did not have to move out of second gear in order to cruise to a win over bottom club Aston Villa.
Their superiority was greater than the final scoreline suggested, with the game being lit up by the two wide men, Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri. The former took his impressive goals tally for the season to double figures by scoring both, while the understanding he has developed with the shifty Shaqiri is really blossoming. If Newcastle defend like they have in their recent away matches, the duo could have another fruitful evening.
How the visitors would give anything to be in the comfy position that Stoke are in. They have certainly spent enough money over the past year to expect to be around the top half, and not be right in the thick of a relegation scrap. It is over two weeks since they were last in action, but the way the Magpies handed a convincing win on a plate to Chelsea showed exactly why they are in such danger.
Going three goals behind after only 16 minutes thanks to some wretched defending was the mark of a side really finding confidence and belief hard to come by on the road. Fabricio Coloccini in particular had a day to forget as his lack of pace was badly exposed and as a unit the backline was short of organisation and coordination. However, they occasionally showed encouraging signs going forward, so if they can tighten things up a little, Newcastle may stand a chance here.
The home side are still waiting on the fitness of Ryan Shawcross, but fellow defenders Glen Johnson, Marc Muniesa and Marc Wilson are definitely out.
Aleksandar Mitrovic is a doubt for Newcastle, who may have Vurnon Anita, Papiss Cisse and Siem De Jong all back available for this one. Massadio Haidara and Chancel Mbemba remain absent.
Last Meeting: Newcastle’s poor start to last season continued as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at Stoke in September 2014. The only goal was scored by Peter Crouch, who headed into a half-empty net from Victor Moses’ cross after 15 minutes. Although the visitors hit the crossbar late on through Jack Colback, they were largely second best.
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