Newcastle United vs Stoke City Match Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More
Newcastle United and Stoke City prepare to square off at St James' Park as both sides look to continue good runs by taking all three points on Saturday.
Rafa Benitez's Newcastle side will welcome the Potters with quiet confidence after winning both their last league games and keeping two clean sheets along the way.
Stoke can also be pleased with their recent form after picking up five points in three tough games against Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of the clash at St James' Park:
Newcastle fans will be overjoyed to recall their 5-1 victory over the Potters in late December 2013. Loic Remy, Yoan Gouffran, Yohan Cabaye and Papis Cisse were all on the score-sheet that day, with Remy bagging brace.
Potters fans will be glad to know than none of the Newcastle first XI that started that day currently play for the club.
Stoke's back-line however is relatively unchanged with Erik Pieters, Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron all still enjoying pivotal roles in the Potters defence.
Morocco international Oussama Assaidi was the scorer for Stoke that day. The former Liverpool youngster now plays his football for FC Twente in the Eredivisie.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting vs Jamaal Lascelles
Young Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles grabbed the winner for Newcastle last weekend after rising high above the Swansea defence and converting a good cross from Matt Ritchie, but the 23-year-old will have to focus on deterring the advances of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting on Saturday.
The Stoke forward is in fine form after scoring a brace against Manchester United last Saturday. The 28-year-old seems to have earned the faith of Mark Hughes who will once again look to get the most of his exciting new signing.
With teammate Jese Rodriguez likely to demand the attentions of Lascelles for much of the game, Choupo-Moting could be able to frustrate the Magpies skipper by playing off Jese in attack.
With both Lascelles and Choupo-Moting playing at their best, an encounter between the two looks set to be a good watch for the neutrals.
Mark Hughes will have to cope with the loss of USA international Geoff Cameron who is his latest defender to pick up a knock.
Saturday could see the return of skipper Ryan Shawcross who is thought to be close to a return to match fitness after the 29-year-old picked up a back injury. The defender is currently being classed as a major doubt for weekend tie.
Luckily Hughes can count on his shrewd summer acquisitions Kurt Zouma, Kevin Wimmer and Bruno Martins Indi to hold the back-line in the absence of his veteran defenders.
Newcastle have relatively few injury concerns apart from Chancel Mbemba who remains out with a hamstring injury. Jesus Gamez will replace the Congo international at left-back.
Potential Newcastle United Starting Lineup: Elliot; Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Gamez; Merino, Hayden, Ritchie, Ayoze, Atsu; Joselu.
Potential Stoke City Starting Lineup: Butland; Zouma, Wimmer, Martins Indi; Diouf, Allen, Fletcher, Pieters; Shaqiri, Jese, Choupo-Moting.
Both Newcastle and Stoke stand a good chance of leaving St James' Park with all three points on Saturday and it looks to be an exciting encounter.
Benitez's Newcastle side look rejuvenated of late, the fans and the players are all behind the manager and it looks like there's a really good atmosphere at every home game.
Benitez has replaced players that served him well in the Championship with players that look really comfortable in the Premier League. With the first XI gelling like they are, there's no reason why Newcastle can't grab another win against the Potters.
Prediction: Newcastle United 2:1 Stoke City