Newcastle climbed to fifth in the Premier League standings thanks to the run of five successive victories, and the Magpies are hoping to keep their Champions League hopes alive by beating indifferent Stoke. Having already ensured survival, the Potters haven’t got much to play for at the moment and their lack of motivation should give the hosts the upper hand.
Five wins in a row
It is fair to say that nobody expected Newcastle to enter the race for European places, let alone fight for a top 4 finish, but we cannot really say the Magpies don’t deserve such a high position in the standings. Alan Pardew has got to be congratulated for getting the best out of what is a very good squad, while the good atmosphere at St James Park is probably the main reason why the new players have adapted to the Premier League much sooner than their counterparts at other clubs. Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye shone in the first part of the season, whereas Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa did the same in the second part, but other players have contributed a lot as well. The Magpies are now playing with a lot of confidence and they are incredibly motivated to end this season on a high, so another home victory looks on the cards. The 6-2-0 home record in last eight league games proves that Newcastle are a real force to be reckoned with at their St James Park.
Cheick Tiote returns to the side after recovering from a hamstring problem, while Leon Best and Sylvain Marveaux are nearing their return from a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Danny Guthrie and James Perch are injury doubts.
Stoke struggling on travels
Stoke City started this season much earlier than other Premier League sides, having featured in the Europa League qualifying stages, and the Potters have already played a total of 51 games across four competitions. Seeing that Tony Pulis didn’t have such a big squad to begin with, it is no wonder his side are struggling of late, and it is more than evident the players are starting to feel the ill-effects of a long season. While their in-your-face approach and vociferous support from the stands have helped the team win three of their last four home games, the Potters are simply unrecognizable on the travels, having lost 6 of last 9 away games in all competitions. Taking that into consideration as well as Newcastle’s amazing home form, one would be mad to expect Stoke to get something from St James Park.
Jermaine Pennant is expected to return from illness, leaving Mamadou Sidibe as the only unavailable player at the moment.
Newcastle United have done brilliantly to keep their top 4 dream alive and after getting some much needed rest the Magpies are expected to continue the rich vein of form. Stoke, on the other hand, cannot seem to find the cure for their travel sickness and they look destined for defeat at St James Park.
Our prediction: Home win
Odds: 1.73 (8/11)
Bookmaker: Paddy Power