Newcastle United wants to prove itself capable of maintaining European form and walks onto the pitch a St. James Park against a Stoke City side playing well overall but struggling to find a semblance of decent away form (10 a.m. ET; watch live online via NBC Sports Live Extra).
The 10th-place Potters have played well as of late, unbeaten in four matches since a 4-0 away drubbing at the hands of in-form Everton, but three of those four matches have been at Britannia Stadium and they’ve been able to do little away from home. Stoke is winless in its last six away matches and has produced just two points.
Meanwhile, Newcastle remains in fine form but must take all three points to prove their flirtations with the Top Four are reasonable. With 30 points they sit four points outside the Champions League but Spurs and Manchester United are on their heels. To maintain sixth place will take home wins over lower sides, and Stoke would be a good start.
The two teams have played some crackers in the past and each has won in the other’s building since Stoke was promoted in 2007 — Stoke won at SJP in Sept. 2010 while Newcastle returned the favor on Halloween 2011 — with NUFC holding a 4W-3D-3L advantage. The teams split the points last season with Newcastle winning both fixtures in 2011/12 and Stoke taking both in 2010/11.
The Magpies will employ a dangerous 4-3-3 highlighted by the return of Hatem Ben Arfa to the starting lineup. Former NUFC experiment Stephen Ireland will be on the bench for Stoke City, with American defender Geoff Cameron leading the Potters’ Starting XI.
Newcastle United: Krul; Debuchy, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon; Sissoko, Cabaye, Anita; Ben Arfa, Remy, Gouffran.
Subs: Elliot, Yanga-Mbiwa, Steven Taylor, Haidara, Obertan, Shola Ameobi, Cisse
Stoke City: Sorensen, Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, Walters, Nzonzi, Whelan, Adam, Assaidi, Crouch
Subs: Butland, Muniesa, Palacios, Jones, Arnautovic, Wilkinson, Ireland