Newcastle United are searching for a victory to end a run of four Premier League games without winning when they travel to the Britannia Stadium to play Stoke City.
Stoke though are resolute in the extreme at home, unbeaten their this season and having conceded only once, there are many better places for a struggling team to go in search of points. Three points and some favourable results elsewhere would see Tony Pulis’ side leap into the top half of the table, and prove welcome revenge for results last season when Newcastle beat Stoke home and away.
This season, though, Newcastle’s form is much less sound. The Magpies have not won since the last weekend in October, losing to Southampton, Swansea City and West Ham United and drawing with Liverpool. The Europa League has not provided any relief, either, as Alan Pardew has overseen two draws in the competition this month as injuries take their toll on the squad – perhaps because of the extra exertion required for European competition.
Stoke will not have former Newcastle striker Michael Owen available as the experienced ex-England international has only recently returned to training following a hamstring injury. Andy Wilkinson’s back problem will see him also miss out. Newcastle have been handed a double injury blow of their own, with Yohan Cabaye and Steven Taylor absent through groin and hamstring injuries respectively.