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EPL Preview: Newcastle United vs Stoke City

STOKE, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 28 : Johnathan Walters of Stoke City scores the equalizing goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Newcastle United at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke won the game 2-1.

STOKE, UNITED KINGDOM – NOVEMBER 28 : Johnathan Walters of Stoke City scores the equalizing goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Newcastle United at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke won the game 2-1.

Tony Pulis and his men visit St. James’ Park having lost their last two while managing to come out on the winning side only  2 times in their last 11 games. Finding the back of the net has been the Achilles’ heel for the Potters, who have failed to do so in 4 of their previous 6 games, losing each such game by a 1-0 scoreline.

Newcastle, on the other hand, have had a resurgent run of late and come into the game on the back of a defensively robust performance against Anzhi Makhachkala to come through the first leg of their Europa League campaign. 5 new faces in the January transfer window have bolstered the squad and added quality as well. They have construed to keep Newcastle undefeated in their last 3 home games, including a 3-2 victory over Chelsea.

The team now has a much balanced look and the Magpies are slowly churning out the results. A string of good results by teams in the dropzone now means that Newcastle head into the game only 6 points ahead of Wigan in 18th spot. Home games for Newcastle generally fail to produce draws with the Tynesiders managing 7 wins, 6 defeats and a draw at St. James’ Park.

A win for both teams will create a gap between them and the dogfight at the bottom of the table.

The two teams last met in November when two late goals Jonathan Walters and Cameron Jerome saw Stoke win the game after falling behind to a Papiss Cissé strike. In the corresponding fixture last season, a brace from Yohan Cabaye added to another goal from Cissé to set up a 3-0 mauling in the midst of a great season from Newcastle that saw them finish 5th in the league.

TEAM NEWS

Newcastle United

Alan Pardew will hope to have the services of Papiss Cissé back for the game on Sunday. The Senegal international couldn’t make the trip to Russia for their Europa League after having fallen ill at the weekend. Jonas Gutierez, who missed the game as well in midweek as he was advised against playing on artificial turf owing to his knee problems, looks set to be back in the fold for this game.

Back and ankle problems continue to keep skipper Fabricio Coloccini and first choice keeper Tim Krul out of the line up. Newcastle fans saw Hatem Ben Arfa come back from injury in their midweek game against Anzhi. The Frenchman is expected to be involved in this game as well.

Stoke City

Tony Pulis will be without the services of Robert Huth, who will be serving the second game of a three-match ban. Marc Wilson is likely to step into the German international’s shoes.

Matthew Etherington will be a gameday decision after having problems with his back. The winger, however, has trained in the last couple of days. Michael Owen also is expected to feature.

STATS and FACTS

0 - There’s only ever been one goalless draw at St. James’ Park between Newcastle and Stoke throughout history – 8th May 1972.

- Newcastle have kept only one clean sheet in their last 10 Premier League games.

6 - Stoke have lost six of their last eight league games.

8 – Stoke have scored only 8 away goals so far this season. The lowest. Gareth Bale has scored more (11).

19 – Stoke have only had 19 shots on target from outside the box in the league this season, 12 fewer than Tottenham’s Gareth Bale.

49 - Since his first full debut against Everton in the Premier League in 2010, Hatem Ben Arfa has featured in just 49 Newcastle games out of 121 the club has played since then.

84- The two sides have faced each other 84 times throughout history – Newcastle winning 41 times while Stoke was victorious on 24 occasions. The first ever game was a 2-1 home win back in 1898.

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