Welcome one and all to to today’s match thread where we come together to watch our Toon charges take on Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium (through the gaps in the fingers of the hand covering our faces).
A win see’s Newcastle pull 3 points clear of the drop zone with a game in hand over Norwich City and local rivals Sunderland. With Swansea away to Title chasers Arsenal today – and their manager having been taken ill – the Magpies also have the chance to match them for points, again with a game in hand. The importance of this game cannot be underestimated, as our other game in hand is against Manchester City in a game we have no right or expectation of getting anything from. Ordinarily a game away to Stoke should be feared, but their home form is inconsistent of late and our lads should by now be worrying about their form in the lead up to the Euro’s – as well as their long term futures and pay packets at the highest level. They have had an 18-day break and there is no excuse for not showing fight and application tonight.
Shearer’s right foot did an excellent preview, which you can read here. It’s full of injury news, interesting stats and key battles. Since that article, news has come out that January signing Andros Townsend has been laid off with a hamstring injury – which has seemingly gifted Yoan Gouffran a starting berth tonight.
Stoke City: Butland; Bardsley, Cameron, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Imbula, Shaqiri, Afellay, Arnautovic; Walters. Subs: Haugaard, Muniesa, Ireland, Joselu, Diouf, Crouch, Bojan.
Newcastle United: Elliot; Janmaat, Taylor, Lascelles, Dummett; Shelvey, Colback, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Gouffran; Mitrovic. Subs: Darlow, Sterry, Saivet, Aarons, Perez, Riviere, Doumbia.
As you can see the Toon have gone with 3 strikers from the bench. Does Steve McClaren anticipates Aleksander Mitrovic not to last the full game following his recent injury? Or he is planning a full scale assault for the last half hour should things not go to plan? Lets find out…