Stoke City Home Preview 17/18

Magpies Looking To Make It 3 Wins On The Spin

When we lost at Huddersfield followed quickly by being dumped out of the League Cup and then the disappointment of transfer deadline day I dont think there were many optomistic Newcastle fans about.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and after 2 really good wins against West Ham and Swansea we go into Saturdays very winnable home game against Stoke looking for a third win on the spin, something that for a team in our position just looking to establish can have a massive positive impact on our season.

If you can string a few maximum point results together in the league not only can it get you some good points onto the board very quickly and spring you up the table but it also breeds confidence too.

If you think that every club always looks to aim for in or around that magical 40 point mark to ensure safety then 3 wins on the bounce and the subsequent 9 points gets you almost quarter of the way towards that in one little run.

I dont want to sound like I already have Saturday down as a banker and when I class this as a winnable game that is no disrespect to Stoke in any shape or form and I think they will certainly offer a much sterner test than West Ham or Swansea did.

At home though and especially on the back of 2 good wins I dont think it is unreasonable to have this earmarked as a potential 3 points.

I think everyone is honest to admit that this season is going to be all about looking to stay up - hopefully that can be done comfortably and maybe we could suprise a few people and look to mid table but in reality I dont think we are going to be pulling up any trees and I cant see us picking up too many points or certainly wins against the big sides as I just dont think we have the quality.

That is why it makes these games against the likes of Stoke so important - teams that you expect to be in or around us or maybe just above us but certainly teams that we have the ability to beat on our day.

This game should hopefully see Rafa back in the dugout and he will certainly have some decisions to make after watching an almost textbook away performance at Swansea from his sick bed.

I would presume that there will be a massive temptation to stick with the same side that started at Swansea but the fact that the likes of Yedlin, Lejeune and Shelvey are back in contention mixed with the fact that Rafa simply likes to tinker may see a couple of changes to the side just to freshen things up a touch.

Personally I dont see how you can change the defence after a couple of clean sheets and good performances from all involved. I think the way Clark and Lascelles played at Swansea certain rules out a return for Lejeune.

Were Yedlin to be fully fit then I suppose Gamez could be at risk - he was steady at Swansea and it would be harsh to drop him although Stoke do have some quick players so Yedlin in at right back and a switch to left back for Manquillo could be an option the manager may look at.

The big decision once again is with Shelvey. Form would dictate that he maybe needs to bide his time and have to wait for a return from a silly suspension but I think it is clear that Rafa sees him as a big player for us that can create stuff for us that others cant which especially at home against a tough opponent could be needed.

After some good performances I cant see Merino dropping out so that leaves the reliable Hayden vulnerable or possibly Perez were we to push one of Merino or Shelvey on and leave Hayden in there but I think that would be unlikely especially given that Perez actually played quite well at Swansea.

Will be interesting to see how Rafa goes with that one and I think whatever he chooses will be a bold call given that anyone dropped would surely be disappointed yet I presume Shelvey is the type of player who will be chomping at the bit to get back playing - nice decisions to have I suppose is the positive way to look at it.

Cant see any change up top with Mitrovic still suspended and Joselu surely a definite starter against his former club both from a form and sentimental perspective. I know Rafa isnt the type to let sentiment make tactical decisions but I am sure there is a small part of him that must surely know how disappointed the Spaniard would be not to face his former team especially on the back of 2 good performances that have yielded a goal and what was nearly 2 were it not from a splendid Fabianski save.

I think possibly the most obvious change might be out wide - I mentioned this in my review of the Swansea game and ill reiterate that I certainly dont want this to sound too negative but the one player I was slightly disappointed with from the win in South Wales was Jacob Murphy.

He wasnt horrendous by any stretch but I just thought he looked a touch out of his depth at times in the game. It is a big step up to the Premier League as we all know so I think it will take a bit of time with him to find his feet. Part of me would like to maybe see the manager show a bit of faith and give him another start but to be fair Atsu looked sharper when he came on as a sub at The Liberty Stadium so he possibly deserves the nod.

It will just be nice to be going into this game with a little less pressure hanging over us like there was before the West Ham game given that we were yet to register a first point or even a goal.

Lets just hope whoever is picked can do the business as another win this weekend would be massive for our season I think.

Of course there is a long long way to go but as I said earlier wins just breed that confidence both in the players and the fans and after a disappointing first couple of weeks where I think a lot of outsiders to Newcastle were rubbing their hands at the prospect some turmoil at SJP it would be nice to keep winning and stick it to a few of the doubters and show that we can compete at this level even without the lack of investment in players many were hoping to see.

Stoke will be tough though, they have some really good players in there squad with the likes of Jese coming in to join the likes of Shaqiri etc. They have had a mixed start to the season but showed last week with their draw with in form Manchester United that they can mix it with the bigger teams and I think they will see this as a good opportunity to maybe come and clip our wings a bit and bring us back down to earth.

Hopefully we can get a positive result because whilst you dont want to be looking too far ahead with Brighton as the next game after this then there is a nice opportunity to maybe extend this decent run futher before a tough game at home to Liverpool at the start of October but obviously we need to take care of business on Saturday first.

Tough one to call, heart says winable but head maybe says score draw.

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