Newcastle head to The Britannia Stadium where they face the ominous task of trying to overcome Stoke City and, in turn, a rather hopeless run of form that has seen us lose three games on the bounce without even looking like recording a win.
Stoke have turned their home ground into a fortress to be fair. Rarely does any team take anything from The Britannia with only those at the top of the English league tending to take anything from the Potteries. Having said that we did manage to win there last season but we were in entirely different form back then. Stoke have not lost at home all season and have conceded just one goal on their own turf this campaign.
Expectations levels are low for this one amongst NUFC fans. Devoid of confidence and lacking in fit and available senior players, Alan Pardew has a job on his hands to turn things around and I honestly don’t believe many travelling Newcastle fans have any real hopes of coming away celebrating anything this evening. Downbeat perhaps, but entirely accurate given our level of results and performances this season.
Former Magpie “favourite” Michael Owen is likely to miss the game against his former employers this evening. The former England striker has only just returned to training after a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury so although technically available he is unlikely to feature.
Andy Wilkinson is also likely to miss out with a back problem while Marc Wilson and Rory Delap are longer term injury absentees. Other than that Tony Pulis has a full squad to choose from.
Further terrible injury news has revealed that Steven Taylor has now joined the casualty list and will be out for six weeks or so. He will join Yohan Cabaye on the treatment table with the French midfielder likely to be sidelined until February after undergoing two groin operations. Ryan Taylor, Dan Gosling, Haris Vuckic, Hatem Ben Arfa and Shola Ameobi are all also out through injury.
There is at least some good news for United as Fabricio Coloccini is available after completing his three game suspension following his sending off against Liverpool.
Last season we did the double over Stoke winning 3-1 and 3-0 at The Britannia Stadium and St James’ Park respectively. They remain our only two Premier League victories against The Potters. In the previous season we lost home and away with results in our relegation season ending with both home and away games being drawn.
At The Britannia it is Stoke who have the upper hand overall having won 19 of the 41 contests compared to just 10 for United. However Newcastle shade the overall record having won 41 times in 83 matches in all competitions compared to just 23 victories for Stoke.
Stats and facts:
Newcastle have lost three on the bounce for the first time since September 2008. That run extended to four defeats in a row which is something United will be looking to avoid repeating.
Stoke have not lost in 13 games at The Britannia.
Newcastle have yet to win away this season.
Stoke have kept five clean sheets at home this season but they’ve only scored five goals at the other end in home games.
You know what you are going to get when you come up against Stoke. The game will be physical and they will threaten from set-pieces and long throws. United will need to be up fro the fight to stand any chance of taking any points home with them.
Unfortunately that fight that I witnessed last season seems to have disappeared somewhat and we’ve now got to a rather unacceptable stage of seeing the team coast through games when the reality is that anything less that 100% effort shouldn’t be enough. I’ve seen less talented players be revered at Newcastle because they would stand up and be counted, sweat and drip blood for the cause. It’s time for this current bunch to step up once more.
Howay the lads!
Date: Wednesday, 28th November, 2012
Venue: The Britannia Stadium