Newcastle owner Mike Ashley may have only been jesting when he said Alan Pardew is toast if the Tynesiders lose against Stoke next, but defeat in the Potteries is sure to edge him that bit closer to the exit door.
After collecting a meagre five wins in the whole of 2014 so far, Pardiola’s relationship with the Toon Army teeters on the cusp of unsalvageable and, while three points at the Britannia won’t put him back on everyone’s Christmas card lists, they’re almost essential if he wants to keep the job long term.
At 2-0 down against Hull in their previous outing it looked as though it was all over, red rover until Papiss Cisse was unleashed.
His point-saving brace plucked Pardew’s bacon from peril last week and it’ll be the Senegalese sharpshooter to the rescue once again.
A price of 13/2 says Cisse opens the scoring at Stoke, while it’s a sizeable 9/4 for him to notch at any time and, judging from his track record against this particular adversary, both offerings are high in appeal.
The former Freiburg forward seemingly keeps his shooting boots in the cupboard until Mark Hughes’ men are in town.
Cisse hasn’t done much goal-getting in the two years that followed the barnstorming four-month Premier League initiation of elation that saw him score 13 in 14 appearances.
His combined league tally from the 2012/13 and 2013/14 campaigns stands at ten, boosted to 12 with his double against the Tigers nine days ago, but he’s always remained a threat against the Potters.
In five appearances against Stoke, he’s scored four times, with last term’s 1-0 Staffordshire reverse the only outing in which he’s been unable to trouble the scorers.
The most recent two of these four strikes have been to close proceedings and with Cisse still en route back from knee surgery, it’s unlikely he’ll be pitched in from the off here.
Those who fancy him to bag last once again will land a 13/2 payday if their premonition proves accurate.