Stoke City v Newcastle United - Preview

  Morale around Stoke City Football Club has, since last Saturday’s first ever Premier League away win at West Brom made top flight survival look likely, been very high. This is in stark contrast to the emotions of  fans of this weekend’s opponent Newcastle for the most part of this season however, as the club, which six years ago was playing in the Champions League has been in turmoil. After being abandoned by so-called saviour Kevin Keegan back in September, the side was coached by the potty-mouthed Joe Kinnear toward the bottom three of the Premier League, where they currently lie, six points and five places behind Stoke. After they had finished booing and criticising their own players, Newcastle’s self-proclaimed “best fans in the country” found time to be disgusted by the club, both on and off the pitch, with many saying they had given up hope for this season, and the future of the club with Mike Ashley as owner.

  All this changed a week ago however, withthe shock appointment of former Magpies hero Alan Shearer as manager until the end of the season. So, with a wave of newfound optimism, and blinkered from the fact that many of their players simply haven’t been up to the task this season, the Toon Army went forward, facing Chelsea at home in their first game under Shearer, who is reportedly receiving five million pounds for his services over the next six weeks. Even the Shearer factor was powerless to halt the slide of the team however, so while Stoke were beating West Brom 2-0, Newcastle were getting beaten by Chelsea by the same scoreline.


Shearer’s motivation for accepting the £5 million job offer remains a mystery

  The appointment of Shearer by the Newcastle board is, without doubt, a desperate move. But, Newcastle are in a dreadful situation at the moment, and desperate times call for desperate measures, and the move to appoint Shearer may just pay off, if the hype surrounding his return to the club is enough to keep them up. Personally, I feel that the appointment was made a week too early. Much of the boost following Shearer’s return was dissipated in that defeat by Chelsea. If the move had been made this week instead of last, all that positivity could have been channelled into the theoretically easier trip to Stoke, increasing the likelihood of a result from Saturday’s game, which could well see the Magpies kick on towards survival. As a Stoke fan, I’m not complaining.

  I feel that the reverse fixture, at St James’ Park in December epitomises the season’s that bothNewcastle and Stoke have enjoyed. 2-0 up at half time, both goals coming from their one bright spark on the pitch, Michael Owen, Newcastle proceeded to capitulate, allowing Stoke to battle back into the game, and eventually earn a 2-2 draw thanks to a late equaliser from former Newcastle man AbdoulayeFaye, who I must say, they were absolutely mad to sell to Stoke for just £2.25 million, then replace him with the clearly inferior Fabricio Coloccini for three times the fee. That forty five minutes of football sums up for me why, despite having a squad that is on paper better than Stoke’s, Newcastle are currently so much worse off that the Potters. Where Stoke are a tough team of battlers, Newcastle are a team without a spine, all too often rolling over when faced with superior class or graft. It is for this reason, that I am confident that, backed by the crowd in the Britannia Stadium, where we go in search of our ninth home win in the Premier League this season, Stoke should be able to earn the three points that will make relegation seem very unlikely.

 [image]
Faye, representing the toughness Newcastle lack, struck against his former employers back in December. If he tells you to be quiet, you be quiet!

  Despite a rumour flying round earlier in the week that he had broken his leg, which caused much unnecessary concern, James Beattie, who has scored six times in his first ten games for Stoke should be fit to partner Ricardo Fuller, who today escaped major punishment after pleading guilty to a charge of driving without a UK license, in the Stoke attack. A doubt lies over the condition of regular left-back Danny Higginbotham for the Potters though, after he twisted and strained his back at West Brom. The most recent reports suggest he will be available to play, but should he fail his fitness test, one of either Danny Pugh, Stephen Kelly or Carl Dickinson will play in his absence. Malian forward Mamady Sidibe remains sidelined for Stoke after opting to undergo surgery on a knee ligament injury that could keep him out for as much as nine months, and his fellow Africans, the Senegalese midfield duo of Salif Diao and Amdy Faye may also miss out through injury.


Higginbotham is a doubt for Stoke

  The visitors also have several injury worries ahead of the match, with Danny Guthrie, Sebastien Bassong, Habib Beye, Peter Lovenkrands and Steven Taylor doubts with shin, groin, knee, back and ankle injuries respectively. Meanwhile, Austrailian forward Mark Viduka and human scumball Joey Barton will definitely miss the game. 

Key Battles:

Ricardo Fuller v Fabricio Coloccini
In the return fixture, Fuller made an instant impact after coming on as a second half substitute, absolutely skinning Coloccini before setting up Stoke’s first goal, and continuing to give the Argentine problems for the remainder of the match. There was some talk of Coloccini being dropped for the match after a poor showing against Chelsea, but with Bassong and Steven Taylor both carrying injuries, it seems likely he will play. If he does, there will be a chance for Fuller to use his pace and strength to good effect again.

Picture of Ricardo Fuller  Picture of Fabricio Coloccini

Abdoulaye Faye v Michael Owen
In the circumstances, it seems very likely that Owen will play for Newcastle even if he is not fully fit. His former teammate Faye will be tasked with keeping him quiet, as, seeming destined for a summer move, Owen tries to impress potential suitors.

 Picture of Abdoulaye Faye  Picture of Michael Owen

Rory Delap v Steve Harper
Delap’s long throws have been right back on form in the last few matches, one resulting in the winning goal for Stoke against Middlesbrough in the last game at the Britannia Stadium. Finally in possession of the number one shirt at Newcastle, following the departure of Shay Given to Manchester City, Harper will have his work cut out to deal with this definite threat.

Picture of Rory Delap  Picture of Steve Harper

Newcastle Squad:

Goalkeepers: Steve Harper (34), Tim Krul (21), Fraser Forster (21), Ole Soderberg (18)

Defenders: Fabricio Coloccini (27), Sebastien Bassong (22), Jose Enrique (23), Habib Beye (31), Steven Taylor (23), Claudio Cacapa (32), Ben Tozer (19), Tamas Kadar (19), Callum Morris (19), Darren Lough (19), Brad Inman (17)

Midfielders: Jonas Guitierrez (25), Nicky Butt (34), Kevin Nolan (26), Danny Guthrie (21), Ryan Taylor (24), Peter Lovenkrands (29), Damien Duff (30), Geremi (30), David Edgar (21), Ignacio Gonzalez (26), Mark Doninger (19), James Marwood (18)

Forwards: Michael Owen (29), Obafemi Martins (24 going on 34), Shola Ameobi (27), Xisco (22), Mark Viduka(33), Andy Carroll (20), Alan Smith (28), Frank Wiafe Danquah (19), Wesley Ngo Baheng (19), Ryan Donaldson (17), Johnny Godsmark (19), Nile Ranger (17) 

Star Man: Michael Owen
  There’ll be few football fans who are not familiar with the story of Michael Owen. After bursting onto the global scene as an eighteen year old at the 1998 World Cup, the forward, now 29, enjoyed several happy years at Liverpool, where he scored 118 goals in 216 league starts. In 2004, he made the move to European giants Real Madrid for a fee of £8 million, where he had a moderately fruitful season, scoring thirteen times in 36 starts, though that did include a hat-trick against arch-rivals Barcelona. A move back to England followed a year later, wih Owen joining Newcastle for a club record £16 million. His time at the club has been blighted by injury though, but he has still managed an impressive goalscoring record of 26 goals in 65 league games. It is a surprise to many that Owen has remained at Newcastle for this long, and he seems certain to leave the club when his contract expires in the summer. With 40 goals from 89 England caps, he is also his country’s fourth highest ever goalscorer.

Comparative Club Stats:                Stoke                          Newcastle

League Position:                                      13th                                       18th

Goals Scored:                                            38                                           40

Goals Conceded:                                       54                                        56

Clean Sheets:                                            10                                   7

Failed to Score:                                         11                                            9

Home Record: (W,D,L)                             9,5,4                                  4,6,8

Away Record: (W,D,L)                              2,4,12                                     3,6,8

Form:                                                   WWLWDD                          LLDLLD

Top Scorer:                                           Fuller (8)                                Owen (10)

 
More action from the return fixture

 

17 Responses to “Stoke City v Newcastle United - Preview”

  1. 04liamj Says:

    6 pointer this…without a shadow of a doubt

  2. Steven Goran Erikkson Says:

    More like a 12-pointer. Should be a scrappy affair, and I would say a draw.

    Check your first paragraph again VJ. Couple of words likethis.

    “Shearer’s motivation for accepting the £5 million job offer remains a mystery” - LOVE IT!!!

    How big are Delap’s ears??? Nearly as big as his throws!!!

    And, just a quick (possibly dodgy) look-a-like: Steve Harper and Albert Riera

  3. I*T*P*L Says:

    It’s certainly an important game. A win for us would all but ensure survival, while a win for Newcastle would pull them right out and put the pressure back on us a bit. It’s going to be a tense one.

    Fixed the first paragraph now, thanks for pointing it out.

    Nope, can’t see it really.

  4. Steven Goran Erikkson Says:

    Just noticed: “Frank Wiafe Danquah (19), Wesley Ngo Baheng (19)” - Must be two of the best names ever.

  5. Lakeland Potter Says:

    In the stats at the foot of the report you have us as winning two away games; If we had, we’d almost be home and dry by now!

    Apart from that little quibble, a good preview. I think we’ll do it. A rare home game when I will not be in my season ticket seat - watching on TV for once. The only other home game I missed this season was…………. Man City! So, that has to be an omen for the result (but not, I hope, for the sending off).

  6. Steven Goran Erikkson Says:

    Lakeland Potter - this away win quibble was brought up last time I think. I*T*P*L is including cup games as well.

  7. I*T*P*L Says:

    Steven’s right, I’ve included the Carling Cup win at Cheltenham. perhaps I should stop including cup games, it seems to cause confusion. I think we’ll do it too, I don’t think Newcastle have enough about them to beat us at home, even with Shearer.

  8. Lakeland Potter Says:

    If you are going to include our cup games then you should include Newcastle’s cup games as well. And when we play the top clubs you should include their European games! I’d stick to League games, much less confusing.

  9. I*T*P*L Says:

    I have done actually, it made for slightly lop-sided statistics in some of our games against the sides playing in European competition. Yeah, I think I will just go to league statistics only in the future.

  10. Ched Evans IS MY HERO :) Bellamy you’re not bad either ;) Says:

    “Shearer’s motivation for accepting the £5 million job offer remains a mystery” - ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!

    Very good preview, well done!

  11. Steven Goran Erikkson Says:

    Steven’s comment - “Shearer’s motivation for accepting the £5 million job offer remains a mystery” - LOVE IT!!!

    Matt’s comment - “Shearer’s motivation for accepting the £5 million job offer remains a mystery” - ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!

  12. Steven Goran Erikkson Says:

    VJ, as much as I appreciate your technological genius, this time the moving thingymjig with AF doesn’t work. It’s too small.

  13. David Says:

    Pottermouths new battle cry…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCXY2UjygSw&feature=related

  14. Steven Goran Erikkson Says:

    HAHAHA - LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Ched Evans IS MY HERO :) Bellamy you’re not bad either ;) Says:

    David, i love that link!

    Best bit…

    ‘Paddy should have waited, his power’s overarted
    Payin’ out money on Stoke bein’ relegated,
    What a joke,
    What a daft bloke,
    Cos who was the first team to come down Stoke?

    Aston Villa, a five goal thriller,
    Delap with a throw and Sidibe with the killer.’

    Brilliant!

  16. I*T*P*L Says:

    I know, I love Pottermouth! He’s a large part of the reason we were promoted.

    My personal favourite bit is just after Matt’s:

    “Wam bamma thank you Mama,
    Martin O’Neill was less than enamoured”

    Thanks for posting that David.

  17. Steven Goran Erikkson Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa8Jtb-NMuE&feature=related

    This one has pics as well, which I think complement it well.

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