Land of the Giants – Stoke City vs Newcastle United match preview

Posted on November 28th, 2012 | 17 Comments |

Stoke City - Land of the Giants.
Stoke City - Big lads and long balls.
Venue: Britannia Stadium, Stoke.
Date: 28 November 2012.
Kick off: 7:45pm.
Referee: Howard Webb.
UK TV: None.

This evening’s game will see Newcastle United seek to avoid their fourth defeat in a row against the Premiership’s tallest side, Stoke City, who are unbeaten in their last 13 games at the Britannia Stadium.

None of their recent games could be described as emphatic victories, with their biggest being a 2-0 defeat of Swansea at the end of last month. However, Alan Pardew needs a win more than at any time since he took over as manager in December 2010, and getting one against Stoke in their own back yard could prove to be a difficult propositon. The Magpies current injury situation hardly helps either, with no less than eight players on the treatment table. You can see all the details of the carnage amongst the mangled Magpies on the team news and squad section below.

So, moving on, lets take a more in depth look at recent form, as well as our previous results against the Potters at their home, the Brittania Stadium.

Form and previous results.

Premiership form this season (most recent first)
12th Stoke City W|D|W|L|D|L|D|W|L|D|D|D|D 16 pts
14th Newcastle United L|L|L|D|W|D|L|D|W|D|D|L|W 14 pts

Well as you can see above, though there isn’t a huge gulf between the teams with Stoke in 12th on 16 points, with Newcastle United two places below on 14 points, the current descent of the Magpies has coincided with a bit of a mini resurgence in the Potters’ form. In other words, whilst Newcastle have lost their last three games, Stoke have won two and drawn one of theirs, with both of their victories coming at home against Fulham and Queens Park Rangers. Both of those were 1-0, sandwiching a 1-1 away draw slugged out against Fat Sam’s West Ham, who of course defeated Newcastle by a single goal on the 11th of this month.

Not to worry though, we may find at least some solace by looking at our previous record at the Brittania, where the Magpies’ record hasn’t been quite so poor with a Premiership win, a draw and a loss, along with one 0-0 draw in the FA Cup.

Stoke v Newcastle United at the Britannia
Date Competition Result
31/10/11 Premier League Stoke City 1 (Walters Pen 75), Newcastle United 3 (Ba 12, 40, Pen 81)
19/03/11 Premier League Stoke City 4 (Walters 28, Pennant 46, Higginbotham 49, Fuller 90), Newcastle United 0
11/04/09 Premier League Stoke City 1 (Faye 33), Newcastle United 1 (Carroll 81)
06/01/08 FA Cup Stoke City 0, Newcastle United 0

Squads, suggested line ups tactics etc…

Stoke City v Newcastle United suggested line ups.
Stoke City v Newcastle United suggested line ups.


Starting with the suggested line ups, I have marked up Stoke as a 4-5-1. This has been by far their most common formation (10 out of 13 premiership games). If they do line up in a different fashion however, and they might in order to have a go at some wounded Magpies, it would probably be a 4-4-1-1 as in their three other Premiership games, possibly with Jonathan Walters moving up from the right wing into the dreaded “hole” and possibly with Michael Kightly being brought in to occupy one of the positions on the flanks.

With Newcastle, due to injuries and Alan Pardew’s stubborness, I have gone with much the same side as faced Southampton, only with the injured Steven Taylor being replaced in one of the centre back slots by Capatain Coloccini as he returns from his three game suspension.

As you can see in the table below, one thing which Newcastle United and Stoke have had in common this seasion has been their love of the long ball. Measured by percentage of total passes, Stoke are currently the third highest with a long ball percentage of 16.3%, which is actually a little lower than their usual. Meanwhile, the Mags sit at the very top of the long ball table so far, with a mighty 17.9%! Newcastle would also top the table in terms of the sheer anount of them as well as the percentage too, with a mighty 868 in their 13 Premier League games so far, or an average of 67 per game.

Pardew’s long balls vs Pulis’s long balls 2012/13
No. Team Pl TP LB LBG LB %
1 Newcastle United 13 4854 868 67 17.9%
2 Reading 12 3524 581 48 16.5%
3 Stoke City 13 4121 670 52 16.3%
4 West Ham United 13 4536 690 53 15.2%
20 Arsenal 13 7593 595 46 07.8%
TP – Total Passes.
LB – Long Balls (over 25 yards).
LBG – Average Long Balls per Game.
LB % – Long Ball %.

Another thing we have in common statiscally is that more of our attacks tend to come down the right hand side, though in Newcastle’s case this was largely due to the impact of Hatem Ben Arfa, who will be unavailble for today’s game due to injuring his hamstring in their Europa League draw against Maritimo.

One trait of very direct long ball teams such as Newcastle and Stoke tends to be a reliance on set pieces for at least some goals. Of course as many if you will no doubt know, Stoke have made a fetish of the set piece and score a higher than usual proportion of their goals in this way. However the Magpies buck the trend here, as they are still the only team in the Premiership yet to score from a set piece. One thing in Newcastle’s favour however is a fairly good record in defending set pieces, though in Newcastle’s last game with Manchester United, they conceded two in one game. They will also have to defend aginst alot of crosses coming in towards towering hitman, Peter Crouch, along with a huge aerial threat from Crouch and the other Stoke giants.

Finally on this section, in the wake of Fulham’s recent defeat aginst Stoke, Fulham Manager Martin Jol had this to say about Stoke’s tactics:

“They try to bully teams and they bullied us. You have to get them on the back foot and then play your football in their half. Then they will probably not be as good as they looked – but we couldn’t do that in the first half.”

This poses a problem for Newcastle however, as one of their main strategies so far this season seems to be sitting in their own half soaking up pressure from the opposition in the hope of dispossessing them and hitting them on the break with long balls lofted over the midfield to Ba, Cisse or Ameobi at the front, with most of the creative guile in the middle coming from the above mentioned Ben Arfa, who will not be taking any part in the game due to injury. So, hopefully, there might finally be a change of approach from Alan Pardew in this game rather than trying to match Stoke’s approach.

Team news and squads.

Stoke City.

Asmir Begovic (G), Thomas Sörensen (G), Carlo Nash (G), Robert Huth (D), Ryan Shawcross (D), Matthew Upson (D), Maurice Edu (M, D), Steven N’Zonzi (M), Glenn Whelan (M), Charlie Adam (M), Michael Kightly (M), Matthew Etherington (M), Wilson Palacios (M), Jamie Ness (M), Diego Arismendi (M), Peter Crouch (F), Jonathan Walters (F), Cameron Jerome (F), Kenwyne Jones (F).

Injured: Rory Delap (hernia), Marc Wilson (broken leg), Wilkinson (back).

Doubtful: Michael Owen (hamstring).

Suspended: None.

Newcastle United.

Newcastle United: Tim Krul (G), Steve Harper (G), Rob Elliot (G), Danny Simpson (D), Davide Santon (D), Fabricio Coloccini (D, C) Steven Taylor (D), Mike Williamson (D), James Tavernier (D), Shane Ferguson (D, M), James Perch (D, M), Vurnon Anita (D, M), Cheick Tiote (M), Gael Bigirimana (M), Jonas Gutierrez (M), Sylvain Marveaux (M), Gabriel Obertan (M), Romain Amalfitano (M), Mehdi Abeid (M), Sammy Ameobi (M, F), Demba Ba (F) Papiss Cisse (F), Nile Ranger (F).

Injured: Steven Taylor, Hatem Ben Arfa (both hamstring), Shola Ameobi (groin), Yohan Cabaye (groin), Dan Gosling, Ryan Taylor and Haris Vuckic (all knee).

Doubtful: Gabriel Obertan (toe),

Suspended: None.

What the managers are saying

Tony Pulis: “I saw Newcastle lose at Southampton on Sunday. It was another example of just how important a home crowd is to a home victory. Our fans have been proving that for many years and it’s fantastic they are still doing it after four-and-a-half seasons in the Premier League. There is an umbilical cord between our fans and our players and it’s a connection that is pivotal to our success, but our fans cannot afford to relax for one second, they must get right behind the players because things can change so quickly in this league. Newcastle are extremely dangerous, as they showed when they won here 12 months ago, and that’s why I’m asking our fans to lift the roof again.”

Alan Pardew: “You can’t doubt your risk-taking, because actually, that’s what it affects as a player. When they say people are struggling with confidence, I always think it’s are struggling with risk-taking because you don’t take risks, you play safe and sometimes when you play safe, you don’t get any reward. There’s a balance between really working hard and risk-taking, and that’s what we need to get right at Stoke. We are certainly not panicking, but we need to be conscious of where we are in the division and that we have got tough games around the corner. We are going to need to kick into gear – and kick into gear with some key players missing, by the way. That means we have all got to work that little bit harder.”

Worky’s final thought.

Going back to Alan Pardew’s words above, he spoke of the players struggling with risk taking, thogh some might argue that Pardew should actually be saying that to himself. Some might also argue that he needs to move away from this “rope-a-dope” appraoch which sees the side spending most of the game in it’s own half waiting for the opportunity for the counter attack, which usually results in a long pass which stands a good chance of falling back into enemy hands, or rather, feet. If Newcastle United are to get out of this current slump, then Pardew really need to change this.

Here’s hoping that he does for this game.

P.S. Since writing the above piece, I have noticed that Alan Pardew had the following to say on the eve of this game:

“The bottom line is that as a football team you have problems and you have to acknowledge them, otherwise you will not solve them. We’ve looked at all the problems we have, including set-pieces, and we are going to have to change and work with a different team.

“A big creative force of this team is in the treatment room, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye are two big players for us in terms of imagination. You cannot suddenly say to a team, start and deliver the type of imagination they give us. So we have to come up with a different game plan to win games”.

Which seems to suggest that Pardew will indeed try a different approach in this game. Let’s wait and see!


NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1091 articles on this blog.

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17 Responses

  1. AP talks so much utterly meaningless bs. Without the context of the blog, you wouldn’t know he’s talking about football in that first quote. I have a bad feeling about this match.

  2. think i’m switching allegiances. the ‘other blog’ as you so aptly refer to it, is a bottomless pit of trolls and dross headed by one writer with too many typos to sift through and a blind support of pardew that just makes me cringe. been with them since its inception. let’s see if i can make it stick!

    on the match, not expecting anything. AP’s already insinuated he’s sticking with los dos dembas up top, which means a 442, again i’m sure with two holding CMs

    can’t say i’m particularly excited

  3. I expect a free flowing game tonight,lots of movement,neat short passes,quality corners and set pieces,lots of chances set up for the forwards and ultimately a win

    come on Citeh :lol:

  4. Will not be going to this one or watching it.Oh thats right Ive given up being bored to death with the sound of the age old excuses ringing in my ears.Got better things to do.

  5. nutmag

    as an alternative you could try watching jasontoon’s door frames drying.

    come to think of it – i might just join ya lad.

  6. worky, takes me back a bit, your title picture, i hope there’s no infringement of copyright lol.
    i would have went with “the land that time forgot”, myself.
    i dont hold out much hope for this game, the way we have been playing.
    as you mentioned yourself, pardew is stubborn, and added to that, he is one arrogant man to boot.
    i dont think he has the wherewithall to change his team too much, and i fully expect him, to go with the two front men, as usual.
    i dont think we will cope with their aerial threat either, and southampton were not the biggest of sides, but at times, they shrugged us off the ball, like swatting flies.

    i can see us getting beat by at least two clear goals, i dont want to be doom and gloom, but stoke is not an easy fixture, when your riding high.
    i just wonder what his excuses will be after this latest debacle?, he’ll probably try to blame the tea lady, for putting bromide, in their tea, or some other bizarre crap.

  7. royston; That might be a little too exciting for me in my advancing years I’ll just listen to the “Best of David Camerons Speeches” with a large malt.

  8. Aye Royston I will be laying down my silky smooth skills on the skirting boards tonight :lol:

  9. it’s gotta turn a corner at some point and why not tonight.
    A combination of a ‘blinder’ from us and a ‘stinker’ from them might just be enough for us to sneak a cheeky 0-1 or an utterly magic 1-2 …………………,who know’s?

    fook it man HWTL!

  10. cloggybob, i’m sure you have been wandering lonely, as a cloud, necking mushrooms, rarely found.

  11. He needs to get back to the ‘let’s get to 40 points, and see what happens after that” mentality. Even with a depleted squad we have the players to beat Stoke. Do we have the manager?

    I’m remembering his bragging about us having top four aspirations, he’s changed his tune a lot in the face of reality, although he is still getting his excuses in before the match even kicks off.