Stoke City-Newcastle United Preview
Newcastle United will be desperate to bounce back from last weekend’s derby defeat Saturday when they welcome Stoke City to St James’ Park.
Steve McClaren’s Newcastle (1-3-6) went into their Tyne-Wear clash with Sunderland in high spirits after having picked up their first win of the season the previous weekend in a 6-2 demolition of Norwich. However, Fabricio Coloccini’s first-half sending off turned out to be a pivotal moment in their 3-0 defeat to the Black Cats, and even though the decision has since been overturned – meaning the Newcastle captain will be available to start against Stoke – the anger at the club remains tangible.
"It is not a surprise to me that the red card was overturned, because it was the wrong decision," Coloccini said. "I am happy because I am able to play against Stoke, but it does not change what happened on Sunday. The red card affected the game and the result, which was very painful for everyone in the club and the city.
"We lost the game, we lost three points and we lost the derby. We cannot get that back, and that is why I cannot be too happy about winning the appeal – it does not change these things."
The availability of Coloccini to face Stoke will be a boost for the Magpies’ beleaguered boss, but he remains without a number of key players. First-choice goalkeeper Tim Krul is out for the season, while Steven Taylor, Gabriel Obertan, Sylvain Maveaux and Emmanuel Riviere are also missing and midfielder Jack Colback is struggling with a knee injury.
Visitors Stoke (3-3-4) have no such injury crisis to deal with, although Bojan Krkic and Geoff Cameron both face late fitness tests. In fact, the Potters travel to Tyneside with a stronger squad than they’ve had all season, after centre back Ryan Shawcross featured for the first time this season in the club’s midweek penalty shootout win over Chelsea in the League Cup.
Shawcross will be pushing for a starting place against Newcastle to help strengthen a defence who let in two unanswered goals against Watford last weekend, but for now, the centre back is just happy to be back available after such an extended spell on the sidelines.
"It’s just great to be back after such a long time out – it’s been a frustrating time so it feels nice to be back out there on the pitch," Shawcross said. "I had a long road to recovery and it was something that was very difficult for me to deal with, but now that I am back I just want to play as many games as possible.
"I’m sure I’ll be available for selection again on Saturday for the Newcastle game, but of course it is up to the manager and whether he decides to pick me."
Stoke have not lost in their last three league meetings with Newcastle, conceding just one goal in that run. However the Potters may be tired after a close to full-strength side was taken to extra time with just 10 men by a similarly strong Chelsea on Tuesday evening.
A heroic Jack Butland performance helped Hughes’ men knock out the London giants, but the Stoke boss believes that the level of commitment shown reflected well on all of his players.
"To pick ourselves up after Chelsea’s equaliser was difficult, but then losing Phil Bardsley almost immediately meant we were down to ten men with the walking wounded," Hughes said. "We just had to stay in the game. We stuck at it and showed great determination.
"All in all it was a great performance and it showed the character we have."
That result made it four wins in five in all competitions for the Potters, who had recorded three straight Premier League victories prior to their loss to Watford.