Newcastle welcome Stoke to St James’ Park on the back of a five game winning streak and largely unaffected by injuries, which is a welcome luxury at this stage of the season.
Their opponents, on the other hand, haven’t won on the road in their past seven matches and are quoted at 17/4 to somehow come away with three points on Saturday.
A home success therefore looks by far the most likely result but, with a Newcastle victory at 13/20 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market and the draw not holding much appeal at 27/10, it could be worth looking elsewhere to spice things up a little.
Although a home win is on the cards, it could still be a low-scoring game, and here’s why: Newcastle have only netted more than twice at home on three occasions this season, and have also seen highly-praised striker Demba Ba go through a torrid period of form, ironically ever since his compatriot Papiss Demba Cisse arrived during the January transfer window.
With three consecutive clean sheets on Tyneside, the Magpies will be looking for another shutout.
Stoke are also known for defending stoutly and haven’t conceded more than two goals on the road for eight games.
At 11/4, it could therefore be worth backing the home side to win a game with under 2.5 goals.
If anything, Newcastle are still in the hunt for fourth spot, and won’t want to run themselves into the ground and risk injuries if they have a two-goal lead. They have a crucial tie against Chelsea in early May, and will want to be as fresh as possible for that one.
Some of Stoke’s problems on the road have stemmed from their inability to get goals: with three goals in seven away trips, Stoke are likely to lose to nil, an eventuality priced at 33/20.
The Walters/Crouch partnership may be (relatively) lethal at the Britannia Stadium, but it lacks the wit and guile needed to ghost past Newcastle’s increasingly confident backline. With three consecutive clean sheets on Tyneside, the Magpies will be looking for another shutout.
Still, the visitors are known for putting in a fight, and could be worth a risky bet with interesting odds of 7/2: how about backing Stoke to keep Newcastle out till half-time, before losing over 90 minutes?
The home side will, for their part, count on the aforementioned Papiss Demba Cisse to make a difference: with ten goals in as many games since joining from Freiburg, the striker has proved he has that killer instinct (especially when it comes to his positioning) to bang in what Hernan Crespo used to call (and score) “stupid goals”. At 19/4, how about backing him to net at least twice?
Recommended bet: Newcastle to win to nil @33/20
Outside punt: Draw/Newcastle win at half time/full time @ 7/2
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