Newcastle hobble into Stoke’s Britannia Stadium stronghold with confidence as fragile as their injury and illness hit squad.
Luckily for the Magpies their opponents’ oft-trumpeted indefatigability on home turf seems to be on indefinite hiatus just now with Aston Villa and Leicester both escaping the Brit three-points-in-hand this term.
It’s often said that spotting a trend before the bookies is key to profitable punting and with Stoke still 23/20 favourites for victory it seems the bwin layers are yet to put much stock in the idea that their backyard brilliance is on the wane.
However, last season it was not until the 3-5 defeat to a Liverpool side on the crest of a wave that the Potters sustained their second home league defeat of the campaign.
That was in January 2014.
Meanwhile, the last time they were beaten twice in a row at the Britannia was April 2013 and that was amid a miserable streak of one win 14 games.
It all adds up to attribute more weight to this seemingly moderate disruption in Stoke’s aura of homestead impregnability that punters might otherwise give it.
As a result Newcastle are worth a second look at win odds of 27/10, with the draw 23/10 and the Magpies-flavoured double-chance wager a tempting 7/10.
The question remains at to why the proposed relent in the Potters’ home strength has come about.
It’s perhaps best to describe them as victims of their own success.
It has become so well known that they’re a tough proposition at the Britannia that more and more sides come there with point preservation as the main concern.
Stoke’s two home league defeats to date this term have both come despite them hording 58 per cent of the ball or more as they were undone on the counter attack.