It’s been a long week since the game against Sunderland last Sunday, although it’s been fair from quite.
In the aftermath of the match at the Stadium of Light we’ve seen a res card overturned, an FA charge accepted and contested, a player ruled out for six weeks and one player leave on loan.
I don’t think anyone will argue that we were by far the better team last weekend until Fabricio Coloccini saw red but at the end of the day that doesn’t really matter as we have nothing to show for it. The fact that Coloccini’s card was subsequently appealed successfully does say a lot about the decision but with the benefit of hindsight these decisions are made in an instant by a human with no backup. It’s because it was a game against Sunderland, a decision against us and because it changed the game that it feels so unjust.
But it’s pointless harping on about it now. It’s done and gone and now we have to look to put things right against Stoke. I’m of the belief that we’ve been improving of late but are still incredibly inconsistent. Fantastic 45 minute performances have been followed by shambolic second-half displays and fantastic team performances have been intertwined with collective horror shows. Performances are all well and good but with a quarter of the season gone the need for picking up points is critical.
As detailed above, Fabricio Coloccini will be available for selection. Jack Colback however will not be available for around six weeks after picking up an injury at the Stadium of Light. Incidentally he wouldn’t have played against Stoke anyway as he serves a one game suspension after picking up a fifth booking of the season.
Tim Krul, Karl Darlow, Steven Taylor, Gabriel Obertan and Emmanuel Riviere remain out and there’s no chat regarding Sylvain Marveaux who appears to have disappeared into the ether once more while Mike Williamson has disappeared to Wolves on a short term loan deal. Rolando Aarons and Kevin Mbabu have another week of training under their belt and are available for selection.
Eric Pieters has served a one match ban and will return to the side although Phil Bardsley will start his suspension after seeing red in midweek. Marc Muniesa and Geoff Cameron will be missing because of injury although the return of Ryan Shawcross will give Mark Hughes a timely boost at a time where defenders seem to be in short supply for the Potters.
Stoke took four points off of us last season with a slender 1-0 victory at the Britannia added to with a point gained in a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park.
The Potters won promotion to the Premier League in 2008 and since then there have been 12 league meetings between the two teams with Stoke winning five of them, United winning four of them and three ending in draws.
Historically though it is Newcastle who hold the advantage having won 38 of 83 matches. Stoke have recorded 26 victories with 19 draws making up the numbers.
Stats and facts…
Newcastle are looking to record back-to-back home league wins for the first time since December 2014.
Stoke are aiming to win three successive away games for the first time in the Premier League. The last time they won three consecutive top-flight away matches was in 1975.
The Potters have scored just nine goals in their ten league matches this season.
Newcastle have scored nine goals in their last four league matches.
As I’ve kind of touched on earlier, I do think performances in general have improved and I’m happy that with Mitrovic and Perez we have two players who cause a threat in attack. However performances start to be secondary when they don’t get the points needed and that is what needs to be the focus now.
Stoke won’t be easy. They are hard to break down and have an extra string to their bow now that they lacked with Tony Pulis in charge. They can play a bit now too and have players who can cause damage in an instant so will need to be treat with the respect they deserve.
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 31st October, 2015
Venue: St James’ Park