Boxing Day sees Mark Hughes’ Stoke City travel to the North East to face Alan Pardew’s high flying Newcastle United.
Newcastle have been on a great run recently and have only lost once in their last 5 games. They are particularly strong at home, having only lost once at St James’ Park all season so far.
Stoke City seem to finally have got used to manager Mark Hughes’ different style and are on a decent run themselves, having lost just the once themselves in the last 5 games. That run includes the excellent 3-2 home win against Chelsea.
On the road it is slightly different however, as they have yet to add to their victory at Upton Park back in August.
Newcastle Striker Papiss Cisse has scored 3 goals in his last 3 games for Newcastle against Stoke.
Jon Walters has scored more goals against Newcastle than any other Premier League team (4)
Newcastle United are looking for their 200th Premier League victory at St James’ Park in the Premier League.
Mark Hughes is on his best unbeaten run as a manager (2 wins, 2 draws) since 2011 when he was Fulham manager.
French forward Gouffran has 6 goals to his name so far this season, 5 of those having come in the Barclays Premier League. He has provided excellent support to fellow French forward Loic Remy.
With Remy usually being deployed as a lone striker, Gouffran has played as a wide man. He has created chances and scored his fair share of goals. As you will see, he has created 2 goals from open play and created 18 chances in all this season.
On the back of his winning goal for Stoke against one of his former teams Aston Villa, manager Mark Hughes will hope that Crouch is able to improve on his 3 goals so far this term. Stoke have struggled for goals overall this season with just 17 goals in 17 games this season and boss Mark Hughes is keen to add some fire power to his squad in the January transfer window, and with Crouch only having a 16% chance conversion rate it is no surprise. However, if Crouch can go on a goal scoring run then his place may not be under threat if a new striker arrives.
Newcastle United have no new injury concerns. Their only absentee is long term injury victim Ryan Taylor. Off the back of an excellent 3-0 win away to Crystal Palace I would expect Newcastle to be unchanged.
Stoke City have Robert Huth out but could welcome back Matthew Etherington after a spell on the sidelines with a back injury. They too could be unchanged after their 2-1 home win against Aston Villa.
Both teams are in good form and find themselves in the top half of the Barclays Premier League. Newcastle are pushing for the Champions League positions and Stoke are improving game on game under Mark Hughes.
Newcastle failed to capitalise on their last excellent away victory by only drawing at home to Southampton in their last home fixture and I think the same thing will happen here.
Mark Hughes has his Stoke team well drilled and they will go to St James’ Park with confidence.
I predict a score draw 2-2.