Bombs Away! Newcastle United v Stoke City Preview

Posted on April 20th, 2012 | 102 Comments |

Bombs Away!
Venue: St James’ Park, NE1.
Date: Sat, 21st April, 2012.
Kick-Off: 3pm.
Referee: Andre Marriner (Sheldon, West Midlands).
UK TV: None.

In the middle of March, with 10 league games left to play, Alan Pardew stated that winning five of them would just about get the club into Europe next season. He was right – but even he didn’t expect the team to win those games straight off! But they did. Now, with 5 games still left to play, United find themselves on the threshold of qualification for the Europa League, but because of those 5 straight wins, they are now also gunning for a place in the Champions League!

United’s rise to prominence this season has not only surprised  most of their fans, it has also made quite a few media pundits look a bit foolish. Let’s just pause and savour that for a moment – as it doesn’t happen very often where we are concerned.  First, Ladies and Gentlemen I give you every Newcastle United fan’s favourite pundit Mark Lawrenson. As we all know, Mark never fails to stick the knife into United and invariably predicts that we will lose, whoever we are playing. Mark’s nomination for “daftest bollocks uttered by a pundit” this season is “Newcastle won’t finish in the top six”.  

Then there’s that knowledgeable cuddly cockney chap Paul Merson, who spent a season and a half calling our Centre Half and Captain “Cuddicini” – before finally being corrected by Jeff Stelling and The Sky Sports Gillette Soccer Saturday Crew. Paul’s entry in the “Buffoon Pundit Of The Year” award is “Newcastle are punching above their weight, I can’t see it lasting”. And finally, a big raspberry to all those pundits, too numerous to mention, who uttered the immortal phrase “but they haven’t played anyone yet”. These people all started to go very quiet and disappear – particularly after we thumped Man Utd 3-0 on 4th January 2012. As regular readers of my rubbish will know, I don’t mention that game very often, but it’s easily my nomination for “favourite game of the season”.

The first of the five remaining games happens this weekend in a rare “3pm on a Saturday” kick off. Stoke City are in town for what will no doubt be a bruising affair, with lots of long throw-ins, hoofball, and a strange little man in a cap jumping up and down on the touchline and kicking every ball. Currently lounging in 14th place in the division, Stoke are perhaps a warning to United of what can happen to a potentially top 10 team when they have to play the extra games demanded by the Europa League. But they are indeed a potential top 10 team, and a genuine threat to our ambition of finishing in the top 4. Every United player will need to be on their game if we are to get the much sought after 3 points.

United’s form in the last 5 games has been excellent, winning all five games, scoring ten goals and conceding only one. Prominent in the goalscoring stakes of course has been Papiss Cisse scoring eight of the goals. We have also seen Hatem Ben Arfa, given the freedom to roam on the right of the attack, stamping his particular brand of individual magic on games in a way that has attracted much media attention. Goals have been off the menu for Demba Ba of late, but wouldn’t it be great if he put that right against Stoke? Everyone would like to see that happen, not least his team-mates. United didn’t play last weekend, but had the pleasure of sitting back and watching Champions League rivals Arsenal drop points against Wigan.

Stoke City have won only one of their last five games, drawing three and losing the other. However, it should be noted that two of the drawn games were away to Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur, so they know how to park the bus and claw results when on their travels. We can also expect Stoke to live up to their reputation for being “physical” – this will be a tough game. I was going to point out that Stoke are the joint lowest away goal scorers in the Premier League this season, but I don’t want to tempt fate, so I won’t. Tactically, United might have to get the towels out and upset them again – like we did so effectively at the Britannia when winning there earlier in the season!

Team News (At The Time Of Writing)

Stoke City

Stoke winger Jermaine Pennant, a virus victim, is a doubt for Stoke.

Defender Andy Wilkinson is available again having recovered from a groin injury, while midfielder Salif Diao and forward Mamady Sidibe (both knee) remain sidelined.

Likely squad: Asmir Begovic, Thomas Sorensen, Robert Huth, Ryan Shawcross, Andy Wilkinson, Matthew Upson, Ryan Shotton, Marc Wilson, Jonathan Woodgate, Glenn Whelan, Dean Whitehead, Matthew Etherington, Jermaine Pennant, Rory Delap, Wilson Palacios, Kenwyne Jones, Cameron Jerome, Peter Crouch, Jonathan Walters, Ricardo Fuller.

Newcastle United

James Perch (thigh), midfielders Cheick Tiote (hamstring), Danny Guthrie (calf) and Gabriel Obertan (ankle) are all back in training, as are striker Leon Best (knee) and midfielder Sylvain Marveaux (groin), both long-term absentees.

Only Steven Taylor, Peter Lovenkrands, Haris Vuckic and Sammy Ameobi are still on the sidelines.

At the time of writing, Tim Krul is a minor doubt but is expected to play.

Likely squad: Tim Krul, Rob Elliot, Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Davide Santon, Ryan Taylor, Shane Ferguson, James Tavernier, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson, Cheik Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Danny Guthrie, Gabriel Obertan, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Mehdi Abeid, Dan Gosling, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Shola Ameobi, Leon Best.

What The Managers Are Saying

Alan Pardew

Granny-kicker Alan Pardew told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle:“It isn’t completely clarified, but the bottom line is that if we beat Stoke, and other results go our way, we could find ourselves in the top four with four games to play.

“We’d have all kicked our grannies for that at the start of the season.”

“Bless my granny, but I’d have kicked her! Let’s hope that’s the case at the end of play.”

He worries me sometimes, does Alan….

Tony Pulis

We managed to catch up with Stoke Manager Tony Pulis in his favourite cap shop, where he was being fitted for a new cap.

“Newcastle have been a surprise team. I think what’s happened there is they’ve signed quite a few foreign players and it’s paid off. They signed Demba Ba at the start of the season, and before Christmas he was scoring on a regular basis, he seems to have dried up a little bit and they’ve taken Cisse and he has taken that mantle on. They’ve had goals all season and they’re strong. Cabaye’s a good player; Ben Arfa has turned out to be a good player, Gutierrez is somebody I have always liked too and the keeper has been superb. They’ve done exceptionally well. Fair play to Alan and everybody there, they’ve had a fantastic season.”


I’m expecting us to have too much firepower for Stoke and can see us scoring a few. I expect Crouch will give us a few problems at the back. But hey, I expected Barcelona to tank Chelsea in midweek so what do I know?

3-1 to the Toon.

NUFCBlog Author: UTD111 UTD111 has written 59 articles on this blog.

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102 Responses

  1. Tough game but one I would expect us to win, like you I expected Barcelona to tank Chelsea midweek. By not pointing out the fact that Stoke are the lowest away goal scorers, haven’t you now pointed it out?

  2. Both my grannies are dead so they’ve been spared my boot. Great synopsis UTD111. It will be great if we can pick up another three points, though my cat might start looking a bit worried if I feel the need to kick out. I’ll try to restrain myself…

  3. Marty says:
    April 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm (Edit)
    …….By not pointing out the fact that Stoke are the lowest away goal scorers, haven’t you now pointed it out?

    No! 8)

  4. Paul@3

    Thanks mate! Aye both my grannies are dead too, god bless ’em. I’d never actually heard that phrase before til Pardew used it – bit of a strange one.

  5. There’s a lesson for everyone here – “be nice to your granny while she’s still there for you to kick” LOL!

  6. I support my team and always try to watch every single game, but I always dread having to sit through the Stoke one for 95 minutes twice a season. It’s a waste of life just sitting there and watching all that mortar fire, it’s just excruciating watching all those five minute throw ins, the constant argy bargy etc. Even when we win, I’d rather be sitting there pullling my own teeth most of the time.

  7. Worky@8

    Cheers for that – I’ve just had a message from my mate saying he’s got a ticket for me!

    I’m currently busy reorganising everything so I can go – and the missus isn’t speaking as I was supposed to be going somewhere spending money on her.

    All this for the priviledge of watching Stoke effing City!

  8. UTD111 says:
    April 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    “All this for the priviledge of watching Stoke effing City!”

    Well, being positive, at least you don’t have to go to Stoke to watch ’em, UTD111.

  9. What was it Ronaldo said when asked why he was arrogant? To paraphrase he said – I’m rich, handsome, talented and have a hot girlfriend.

    When Peter Crouch was asked what he would be if not a footballer, he said – a virgin.

    That’s the difference between Real Madrid and Stoke.

    We should act and play like Real Madrid tomorrow.

    (Except Real Madrid have to play Barcelona tomorrow and will play like Stoke)

  10. UTD111 @ 9 – I’ve a great idea as to how you can cheer your missus up: Tell her that, in the absence of both your grannies, you promise not to kick her instead if United win!

  11. UTD111:

    Have you ever watched a game with your wife. It is impossible. She’s asking why you are so wound up and yelling and why do you have a beer in your hand. And what is this offside rule. And saying, ooh, I like him, he’s cute.

  12. GS – you missed the dreaded ‘so what cup is this then’ or ‘why has that bloke got a flag’

    So true about the beer though, that one also comes out when I am doing DIY, ‘your just like your dad, can’t do anything without a beer’

  13. UTD111 says:
    April 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    “Thanks lads – confession time…..

    The misses is a Mackems LOL”

    You aren’t the first writer on this blog to have been in a mixed marriage, UTD111.

  14. UTD111:

    Lawro has changed his tune recently and picked us to win a few games. I thought it would be the kiss of death, but then realised he knows f*ck all, so whatever he says is meaningless.

    He is going head on head with Steve Cram this weekend.

  15. GS – Never EVER take anything Lawro says into account, he is not even as accurate as throwing a coin – statistical fact, that.

  16. I am excited about tomorrow. It is a wall of live football here in the USA starting with Arse and Chelsea at 6.30am, then Newcastle at 9 and Spurs at 11.

    Capped off with El Clasico in a bar at 1pm.

    I’m guessing I’ll be drunk in a gutter by 5pm

  17. Stoke !
    The new Blackburn, at least the same direct football style, the same big guys, same set plays,a manager who plays 90’s style percentage football.
    Boooring !
    Problem is at this stage of the season, no team wants to play Stoke, it’s exhausting, a physical battle.
    There’s no gimmie’s among the other four either.
    Where we are running into sides who are in late form.
    Wigan having, just taken maximum points from both Man. U. & Arsenal and are brimming with confidence and moved
    out of the relegation bottom three.
    They will want to ensure survival and be tough to beat.
    Chelsea having beat Barca, are also late bloomers, plating some of their best football of the season.
    That and the fact everyone over thirty knows their days at Stamford bridge are numbered and want to go out with a bang, or at least a piece pf silverware.
    Everton with nowt to play for other than next years wages, are still a tough side to beat, but we will see.
    As for Citeh ? guess you all have your opinions on this one and they still have a mathematical chance for the league.
    But looking at the run in, no easy points there.

  18. the best way to watch the match with your misses????

    Stick a get well soon card on the Mantel piece 30 minutes before the game.

    you wont hear a peep all 90 minutes.

  19. Not sure if I want Le Arse or Chelski to win that game.

    On the one hand if Chelski win, it keeps Le Arse within striking distance. On the other hand, I like the feeling of being potentially 5 points ahead of Chelski :)

  20. good game for a draw, chelski v arsenal. they can then fall to bits in the rest of their run in. ok then arsenal to win.

  21. UTD111@

    I bought a 47 inch TV and had a party for 30 people to watch England play USA in the world cup. I tried to explain that football wasn’t that bad and the final would be better.

    So, next, only six or seven went to a bar with me to watch the hacking and Kung Fu of the final.

    Then, I went to see Man U against Chicago Fire with the one person who remained interested and it was a good game, Obertan scored a cracker.

    Then, I say come and watch my team, they are doing well.


  22. Read where AP has stated he with the present team could surpass anything SBR did, though claiming SBR had a much better team of professionals.
    Perhaps he should await qualification first!
    He then goes on to say, it ?
    Would surpass any thing he has accomplished so far…
    Ermm like getting fired, from at least two clubs and presiding over another’s relegation ?

  23. GS

    since they dont seem interested and probably don know the difference.

    record every game all season. towards the end pick a game we win.

    tell them it live and sit back and watch.

    they wont have a clue.

    just be careful of any seasonal mentions and poppies

  24. GS says:

    “Then, I say come and watch my team, they are doing well. I CHOSE THE SPURS GAME”

    Just keep the Toon to yourself until the end of this season GS !

    Stoke will probably go with 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2 with Crouch/Jones up ahead of Walters. Delap made the Villa game on the right and Etherington on the left with Palacios and Whitehead in centre.

    If we play positively from the start, attacking with a front three, we should get something going early on rather than let Stoke silence the crowd by putting 10 behind the ball as Bolton did last time.

    As I wrote yesterday, having disbanded Level 7, the Fatman has made it very difficult for the minority to get things going at SJP nowadays. Maybe something he should reconsider at the end of the season ?

  25. With guys like Crouch and Jones up front, with long balls constantly being hoofed up to them, unless it’s a chuck in from DeLap, that, plus set plays, makes them difficult to defend against.
    Question is, what strategy to play against such a side?
    They dont do well against sides who keep possession and put them on the back foot.
    Problem is we know it’s gonna be a physical game and would’nt surprise me if HBA was left out in favor of say, Raylor or Obertan and we ended up playing a 4-5-1.
    Wrong strategy, you got to play a possession game and have em chase the ball, skill vs strength.
    To play a game that reflects Stokes tactics is a recipe for disaster.
    But then what do i know ?

  26. AndyMac @40:

    I know, I am a jinx. I think I saw my first game in 1970 and we haven’t even won an LDV Vans trophy since.

  27. Chuck @43:

    I think Ben Arfa will start. As you have said, by luck or good judgement Pardew has figured out a formation that will worry most teams.

  28. “Pards is the master tactician man!!”


    The above line is provided, complete with quotes, so that others can quote it in a future message and whinge about us being 5th in the EPL…. :)

  29. Rattles ?
    Yeah, remember them well.
    Curious when were they banned, some time in the sixties i presume?
    Much prefer the sounds of human voices, the famous Hamden roar for instance, where crowds of over a hundred thousand, gathered to watch the national side.
    Hw many would they get to-day ?
    Also remember regular crowds of over fiffty five thousand jammed into St. James’ Park and as the home side came charging out of the tunnel, the roar of Howeeeeeey Neeewcasile (no not Newcarsel) was pretty intimidating and raised goosbumps on the faithfull.
    A much quieter crowd these days, why?

  30. Stephen C @36:

    I have the Man U game recorded and will inflict it on some poor unsuspecting Yank. They will be begging me to have a Bud commercial every 10 seconds like they have in their sports just to stop me saying Toon Toon.

  31. Chuck

    It’s all wimmin, kids and prawn sandwich brigade these days :)

    No smokin’ no swearin’ no spittin no “peanuts, tanner a bag, the more you eat the more you sha-la-la-la McNamee” :)

  32. UTD111 sez.

    Pardew is the master tactician….

    UTD111, thats what fishermen call chumming, throwing out a bit of bait (no not what you carry to work in a brown bag )to attract attention.
    Lets just see what happens with Stoke.

  33. I dont get it why you can only get a beer at the bar.
    If the PL owners had sense they could like most US grounds, have guys walking up and downn with both beer and snacks, big revenue source.
    But if someone wants to sit and watch the game with a cold beer, whats up with that?
    Cold beer and rattles, yeah !

  34. What we need is to go back to the old days of someone p*ssing down the back of your leg after six pints at the Percy Arms – rattles – you were lucky.

  35. Chuck:

    I’m shocked I am still alive after eating those hotdogs at Saint James’ Park and wearing them crappy silk scarves like a wannabe Bay City Roller in the ’70s.

    I draw the line at tartan though.

  36. Standing on the back fence at the top of the east terraces, near the Gallowgate end, was my spot.

    Remember there was access to a bog there and a tin shack that dispenced what was described as tea or bovril.

    The vilest stuff i ever tasted, difficult to distinguish one from the other, for gods sake dont bring that back !

    They were the good old days, eh! i’ll take an upholstered seat anyday !

  37. Chuck:

    I remember seeing the tin shack from the Leazes. I always wondered what they served from there – I assumed salmonela like from the hot dog stands.

  38. I started life on the popular side with me dad.

    Then graduated to a Leazes End thug.

    Then a more mature Gallowgate Ender – y’know the type – little finger stuck oot when eating one’s pie

    Then a season’s ticket in the East Stand

    Then a Season’s ticket in the West Stand

    Then a Season’s ticket in the corner between the Leazes and the East Stand. Double Bond Holder.

    Then Ashley crapped on Sir Kevin Keegan. And the man has never had another penny out of me and never will.

  39. UTD111 @62:

    Are you serious about not going anymore because of Mike Ashley?

    He was a niave owner who might actually be getting his sh#t together. No worse than Pirate and the previous fat man!

  40. GS

    ive seen some dodgey footage of young lads in suits before the days of replica shirts from back in the 50s.

    good to know why my father still wears those corduroys.

    must still be living the dream.

  41. GS @ 63

    Yep – I hold Sir Kevin in high regard.

    I can’t forgive – I can’t forget.

    I accept Ashley’s era has changed and the team/manager etc are doing well.

    But I won’t contribute a penny to that man. He treated a United legend like a piece of shit on his shoe. You could even argue he did that to Sir Alan.

  42. Stephen C:

    You had to be there to know it.

    Unfortunately, for my Toon viewing pleasure, I moved away from Newcastle 30 years ago and those days are forged in my memory.

  43. Gotta have an early night, take it easy on the Amstel.
    Big day manana, got Arsenal vs. Chelsea @ 7:30am, Noocarsel vs. Stoke @ 10:am, or S’Land Vs. Stoke @ the same time (perhaps Workey being he hates the Stoke games, could wattch it)
    Oooh! sorry forgot you guys are limited in the number of games shown.
    Then @ 2:pm theres the El Classico, just too much.

  44. UTD111:

    I am a bit shocked. It is tribal to support NUFC, you show it on here.

    Ashley may come or go, you gave your money to the Pirate and lived to tell the tale – Yarrrh

  45. UTD111@65:

    and Keegan walked out the first time, leaving us with a brilliant team I might add, which a 64 year old Ian Rush only added to.

  46. GS
    Thats because you are out there amid the great unwashed of time zone +6, est reads 4:25pm.

  47. Chuck:

    Chicago is an oasis in the land of hillbilly, gun-toting, yahoos in the freak show that is the mid-west of the US of A.

  48. GS says:
    April 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Unfortunately, for my Toon viewing pleasure, I moved away from Newcastle 30 years ago and those days are forged in my memory.

    did you keep your Corduroys? GS? or did they do that much damage they too are etched into your mind?

  49. And Holly-Weird ain’t called that for nothin’. But I’ll be looking out for the Match Banter links at 6:30 am tomorrow morning. HWTL.

    And I’d go for a draw between Arsenal and Chelsea and, obviously, Joey Barton to shine for QPR against Spurs. Do it Joey!

  50. To GS @ 14:

    FFS, have you been watching games with my wife?! That’s pretty much exactly how it goes down.

    She has complained that I should support a better-looking team. She likes Arsenal (grrrr), though she does make fun of RVP’s Mr. Burns-arms stylee…

  51. @76: a better looking team, a better looking team!

    I say no, if Swansea City came up to me, showing their deep passing game, with their Jolly Rodgers and their mid-wales accent (which is nice by the way when Catherine Zeta Jones says it) I would say…

    stuff it up your cardiff and be pleased with it.

  52. Paul in Hollywood says:
    April 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    “But I’ll be looking out for the Match Banter links at 6:30 am tomorrow morning. HWTL.”

    You could at least leave a few comments to let us know you’re there, Paul. :-)

  53. I meant “stuff it up your Cardiff Arms Park” but went to get a cup of tea and pressed the button.

    Stoke 0
    Newcastle 12

  54. I worked in a bakery in Cardiff for 3 months and could understand every word they said. Maybe they have they same sing-songy accent as home.

    I wish I hadn’t heard everything they said – it was shyte.

  55. i for one think the welsh accent is great.

    i know we have one of the sexier accents but when youre a geordie its nowt new

    i think the welsh is a pretty fit accent when it come to females.

  56. The away game at stoke earlier in the season was far from a tooth puller. I seem to remember a victory with great entertainment regarding towels etc. Back then stoke were seen as our direct competitors, now we only have to worry about how chelsea or spurs perform!

    Happy Days, another three points thanks!

  57. Allez, Allez, Allez…

    Is that you Stephen C? Good interview if it is and still a good interview if it is not.

    I don’t think Ryan Taylor will play today so we will hopefully rely on our better skills and goalscoring.

    This is the game we need to win. Win, and we are real contenders, and we are back.

  58. My budgie’s names are Alan and Peter. And my dog’s name is Mr. Shearer-Beardsley. Is that going over the top?

    When I call the dog outside it is Shearer, Shearer, Shearer.

  59. yes its me GS

    i have the privilege of having sky follow me around
    there is about 4 videos of me on there.

    so its a good opportunity for me.

  60. It would seem our friends in Poland could do with your help.

    There is a poll on the Canal plus website, Just to the right asking people which game they would prefer to watch out of Arsenal v wigan and us v stoke, we currently have 47 %. I f as many people would take thier to time to vote this would be helpful, i don’t suppose it would hurt people’s chances of finding a stream, either!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  61. The bloke pictured on your heading between ‘NUFC’ and ‘BLOG’ is pictured in this article ‘NUFC loud crowd is crucial says Alan Pardew’ in the journal.

  62. Chuck:

    are you watching the Arsenal game on Fox Soccer? They just had Kenny Samson on to answer the question of who ate all the pies.

  63. GS says:
    April 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    “They just had Kenny Samson on to answer the question of who ate all the pies.”

    Everyone on here knows thae answer to that one, it was Micky Quinn.

  64. Worky:

    I know Quinn wrote the book, but Kenny read it cover to cover and acted on it. He must be about 15 stone, and he’s only about 5 foot five.

  65. Stephen C says:
    April 21, 2012 at 3:53 am

    “yes its me GS

    i have the privilege of having sky follow me around
    there is about 4 videos of me on there.”

    They do say that Sky only interview the daftest Toon fans, Stephen. :-)

    Seriously though, you do do a good interview.

  66. GS says:
    April 21, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    “I know Quinn wrote the book, but Kenny read it cover to cover and acted on it. He must be about 15 stone, and he’s only about 5 foot five.”

    Oh aye, GS, he does have a bit of a belly now.

  67. The commentator on the Arsenal game just said “it would be a shame if Spurs didn’t nick that fourth spot after the season they have had”

    No it wouldn’t.

    What season have they had apart from beating us 5-0?

  68. cloggybob says:
    April 21, 2012 at 10:31 am

    “The bloke pictured on your heading between ‘NUFC’ and ‘BLOG’ is pictured in this article ‘NUFC loud crowd is crucial says Alan Pardew’ in the journal.”

    Aye cloggybob, it’s been used in another newspaper too.