Newcastle vs Stoke preview, betting tips and predictions: Magpies to keep good run going

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Draw HT/Newcastle FT @ 17/4 with Coral

Draw @ 11/5 with Coral

Newcastle to win and BTTS @ 4/1 with Coral

Few clubs have been under as much pressure to perform this season than Newcastle United. The Championship winners saw the momentum built up from promotion evaporate over the summer as speculation over Rafa Benitez’s future grew with disappointing transfer window. But back the back wins and clean sheets, the latter of which came with Benitez on his sickbed, have given the Magpies fresh perspective ahead of a crucial run of fixtures.

Despite missing Aleksandar Mitrovic through suspension and Paul Dummett and Chancel Mbemba due to injury, Newcastle are in good shape for the visit of Stoke. Their defensive organisation has helped their form improve, and that is the base for our primary betting tip. Under Benitez, Newcastle look to keep that shape and come into the game late on. Second half goals from Ciaran Clark and Mitrovic in the 3-0 win over West Ham secured the points, while Jamaal Lascelles’ header at Swansea grabbed a late win. Benitez has the Magpies well drilled, meaning it will be a tight affair; there won’t be much room for the likes of Maxim Choupo-Moting to hit Newcastle on the counter attack, as he did in scoring twice against Manchester United last week.

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Having failed to win on the road yet this season, Stoke will be underdogs coming into this game. But they have the attacking quality to threaten themselves, with Choupo-Moting 2/1 to score anytime and Jese Rodriguez at 12/5 (both with Coral) both worth a punt as the likely men if Mark Hughes’ men are to take something from the game. Both these teams are well matched, and Newcastle did find it frustrating to break teams down at home last season, particularly if they were deliberately frustrated. If Hughes sets up like this, then 11/5 suddenly becomes an attractive price from Coral for the draw.

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Crucial to the outcome will be the pace of both teams. The power of Christian Atsu and Mohammed Diame gave the Magpies impetus at Swansea and could come into play late on, while Choupo-Moting can play out wide along with Xherdan Shaqiri. The lack of fullback options for Newcastle make their left-side a position to be exploited and that will give the visitors hope.

Key battle: Mikel Merino vs Joe Allen

Since coming into the team to replace the banned Jonjo Shelvey, Spain under-21 midfielder Merino has been a revelation for Newcastle. Technical quality is to be expected given his roots and the fact he is on loan from Borussia Dortmund, but his physical strength and aerial ability make him the complete midfielder. He is adept at holding his position and intercepting in the midfield, but also dictating the play with his passing or even the manner in which he takes the ball forward, keeping his head up at all times.

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Allen does a similar job for Stoke, and he will be the man to battle Merino directly. Both Mark Noble and Renato Sanches have failed to get the better of him, and as the man who unlocks the pace on the wings, Merino is the man to stop if anyone is to contain Newcastle.

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