Last time out against Bolton was a tough game.
Ben Arfa slots home his wonder goal against Bolton last time out
And it looked like Newcastle would only draw that game until the 72nd minute, when Ben Arfa produced some of that magic of his, and scored that first goal.
That’s after he had collected the ball inside his own half, and went forward to beat three Bolton players (or was it four?), before slotting the ball into the back of the net.
The St. James’ Park sell-out crowd that day was rather tense, as they could see Bolton were making it very difficult for the Newcastle side.
In contrast to that game, Newcastle were more free-flowing against Liverpool, and Alan Pardew will be hoping Newcastle can play that way this afternoon, and get the crowd right behind them from very early in the game.
This is what Alan told the local press this morning:
“I will certainly not lower expectations with fans. It’s great for the fans, even just discussing it over a pint that we could make it with five games to go.”
“I really need the stadium to be like it was against Liverpool because Bolton was a different kind of game.” “Although the fans were patient with us, we had a quiet stadium and I think the stadium will be very important for us.”
“I think it will settle us and help us get over the line against a really difficult side. Stoke are such an underrated team, and perhaps because of their style they get underrated.”
“That is not just the manager but the players.” “They’ve got really, really good players in there and you might even have an England centre forward in there in Peter Crouch. You still think that he might get a chance for England.”
“Pulis is a tough character, a tough cookie and his teams are always tough to beat,” “Mine and his teams have gone head-to-head many times and it’s very, very close most times. I don’t expect this to be much different.”
One worry we have today is the fitness of Tim Krul, although he is expected to have recovered from his back spasm.
But if he hasn’t recovered, Rob Elliot will make his Premier League debut for Newcastle, in what is such an important game for Newcastle.
Assuming Tim is fit, this could be the side that Alan Pardew starts today:
Simpson Coloccini (c) Williamson Santon
Cabaye Tiote Gutierrez
Ben Arfa Cisse Demba Ba
And that’s in the attacking 4-3-3 Alan Pardew will use this afternoon to try to crack open the Stoke defense.
What would your team be this afternoon?