sNewcastle United will host Stoke City this Thursday hoping to continue the excellent run of form that has propelled into sixth position in the table.
The Magpies did their duty by beating Crystal Palace 3-0 on Saturday but it will soon get a lot tougher as the squad heads into a series of difficult matches over the holiday season.
Stoke City have also been in good form as of late. Mark Hughes’ club have only lost one of their last eight league games and remain in a comfortable 10th position in the table. They beat Aston Villa 2-1 on Saturday with goals by Charlie Adam and Peter Crouch.
Alan Pardew will be hoping for another good effort on Thursday ahead of an important match against Arsenal just three days later. This stretch of games will go a long way in determining whether Newcastle United will be playing in Europe next season.
Since Stoke City’s return to the top flight in 2008-09 the two clubs have played eight league matches against one another, splitting their contests with three wins, three losses and two draws each.
Last season, Stoke City beat Newcastle at Britannia Stadium 2-1 with late goals by Jonathan Walters and Cameron Jerome on November 28. Jerome has since moved onto Crystal Palace.
But the Magpies managed a narrow 2-1 win back at St. James’ Park on March 10th of this year. Papiss Cissé scored a memorable goal in injury time to give Newcastle the victory and some much-needed points.
In his first season with Stoke City, Mark Hughes has employed several different formations. Last week against Aston Villa, Stoke lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation to start the match with Peter Crouch as the lone striker.
Stoke, for some years now, have not been known for scoring goals. They have only registered 17 goals in the first 17 league matches this season. Scottish midfielder Charlie Adam leads the team with four goals. Former England international Peter Crouch is still producing at his age. He has scored three goals this season and notched another three assists.
Newcastle’s opponents win games by defending well and keeping the score down. The back-four are led by English centre-back Ryan Shawcross. American international Geoff Cameron is also highly regarded and is known for his dangerous crosses. Goalkeeper Asmir Begović is a Bosnia and Herzegovina international, who has been in very good form this season as well.
German defender Robert Huth is still recovering from a knee operation and will not be available for Stoke. Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tioté is suspended for the match after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Crystal Palace. Jonás Gutiérrez is struggling with a calf injury and is a game-time decision.
With the club playing so well, it is unlikely that Alan Pardew will tinker too much with his line-up. Tioté’s absence is a significant one in the centre of midfield. Pardew could decide to revert back to a 4-4-2 formation with Shola Ameobi and Loïc Rémy as the striking partnership.
Stoke City will be looking to get a result before traveling to London to face Tottenham on Sunday. They have struggled on the road this season, winning only one of eight league games.
Newcastle enter the match having won six out of their last eight league matches overall. At home, they have only lost one league match this season, a 3-2 defeat to Hull City in September. Stoke City will play for the draw but Newcastle’s skill will prove too much for the visitors.
Newcastle United 2 – 1 Stoke City