By Tom Easterby
Newcastle United will look to put an end to a poor run of recent form when they travel to the Britannia Stadium to face Stoke City on Saturday (3.07pm kick off).
Winless and goalless in their last three outings, United's trip to the Potteries coincides with Mark Hughes' men embarking on a good run of form, having won four of their last six in the Barclays Premier League, including three consecutive home victories.
However, the last meeting between the sides proved to be anything but a close affair, with a rampant Magpies' side recovering from a goal down to hit the Potters for five on Boxing Day.
Follow Saturday's fixture right here on nufc.co.uk for live updates, on-the-whistle half-time and full-time reports and exclusive post-match reaction, or on Twitter at @NUFC.
In a total of 86 clashes between the sides, Newcastle hold an overall advantage, having won 43 compared to Stoke's 24. The Potters have managed to score nine goals in their last six Premier League outings, whereas Alan Pardew's side have managed just five in the same period - four of which came in a 4-1 thrashing of Hull City.
Newcastle's allocation for this fixture has sold out.
26th December, 2013 - Newcastle United 5 (Remy 44,56, Gouffran 48, Cabaye 66, Cisse 88pen) Stoke City 1 (Assaidi 29)
Newcastle United (4-3-3): Tim Krul; Mathieu Debuchy, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson, Davide Santon (Massadio Haidara 61); Moussa Sissoko, Vurnon Anita (Shola Ameobi 45), Yohan Cabaye; Hatem Ben Arfa, Loic Remy, Yoan Gouffran (Papiss Cisse 72)
Stoke City (4-5-1): Thomas Sorensen; Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson, Erik Pieters; Jon Walters, Steven N'Zonzi (Marc Muniesa 72), Glenn Whelan, Charlie Adam, Oussama Assaidi (Andy Wilkinson 45); Peter Crouch (Wilson Palacios 59)
FULL RECORD v STOKE CITY
P86 W43 D19 L24 F153 A99
(Last six games - all competitions)
Stoke - LWWWDW
Newcastle - LLLWLW
Stoke (v Chelsea, Premier League): Asmir Begovic; Geoff Cameron (Andy Wilkinson 46), Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson, Erik Pieters; Peter Odemwingie, Glenn Whelan, Wilson Palacios (Charlie Adam 46), Steven N'Zonzi, Marko Arnautovic; Peter Crouch (Jon Walters 78)
Subs not used: Thomas Sorensen, Marc Muniesa, Matthew Etherington, John Guidetti
Newcastle (v Manchester United, Premier League): Rob Elliot; Davide Santon, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson, Massadio Haidara; Vurnon Anita, Dan Gosling, Cheick Tiote, Yoan Gouffran (Shola Ameobi 85); Luuk de Jong (Hatem Ben Arfa 61), Papiss Cisse
Subs not used: Jak Alnwick, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Steven Taylor, Paul Dummett, Adam Armstrong
Stoke - Peter Crouch (10)
Newcastle - Loic Remy (13)
Stoke - Ex-Magpies' loanee Stephen Ireland has recovered from illness and comes into contention for the Potters, while fellow midfielder Charlie Adam could wear a protective mask after breaking his nose in training. However, Stoke are due to be without Oussama Assaidi, who is still struggling with a knee injury, and winger Matt Etherington remains sidelined by a back complaint. Long-term knee injury victim Robert Huth is still out.
Newcastle - Goalkeeper Tim Krul looks set for a return to action, having missed two games through a badly bruised knee. However, United manager Alan Pardew will once again have to do without Loic Remy (calf), Mathieu Debuchy (groin), Moussa Sissoko (hamstring), Sammy Ameobi (ankle), Gabriel Obertan (knee) and Ryan Taylor (knee).
A WORD FROM BOTH CAMPS
Mark Hughes, Stoke manager: "A lot of people may look at the game between two mid-table sides and not think there is much importance to it. For us though, that couldn't be any further from the truth. We have five games remaining and we want to win all of them if possible. There are a lot of objectives we are chasing and we want to be able to look back upon the season with a lot of pride. This is a big game for us and one we are really looking forward to."
Alan Pardew, Newcastle manager: "We've got to channel the pressure that's on us into a performance, and that's something that we've done well at this football club in the past. We've had a lot of pressure on us in different circumstances and we've dealt well with it, particularly since I've been here, so I'm very confident that these players can deal with that pressure. I think this is a tough game for us this weekend on the back of the results we've had, but we're going to have to face it full on."
Mike Jones (Cheshire): 2013/14 record - 26 games, 89 yellow cards, three red cards
PLAYED FOR BOTH TEAMS
Shola Ameobi, Viv Busby, George Eastham, Abdoulaye Faye, Amdy Faye, Andy Griffin, Stephen Ireland, Jonathan Woodgate
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DID YOU KNOW?
Of their 33 Premier League fixtures to date this season, Stoke have only been in a winning position at half-time in six games.