After their disappointing campaigns last season, both sides will be delighted with their improved performances this term, with both occupying the top half of the table at Christmas.
Stoke will feel their decision to part company with Tony Pulis has been vindicated, with successor Mark Hughes rebuilding his reputation and confounding his critics with a succession of solid results and a definite departure from the ugly pragmatism of the Pulis years.
Nonetheless, Stoke are not exactly scoring for fun, with just five goals in their last six games, and they may find it tough against a Newcastle defence that have kept four clean sheets in their last eight matches.
The French connection is well and truly back at St James’ Park, with Mathieu Debuchy outstanding at right-back, Yohan Cabaye pulling the strings, and Loic Remy banging in the goals. With this Gallic flair allied to their defensive steel, Newcastle will be strongly fancied to continue their fine home run.
KICK OFF: Thursday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS
Newcastle 2 (Cabaye, Cisse) Stoke 1 (Walters), Premier League, March 2013
Stoke 2 (Walters, Jerome) Newcastle 1 (Cisse), Premier League, November 2012
Newcastle 3 (Cabaye 2, Cisse) Stoke 0, Premier League, April 2012
Newcastle and Stoke are locked at 3 wins each from their 8 Premier League meetings. They are also tied at 13 goals apiece in these encounters.
Newcastle have won the last 2 meetings at St James’ Park, though Stoke triumphed 1-2 in 2010.
Excluding own goals, 22 of Newcastle’s 23 Premier League goals this season have been scored by Frenchmen. Paul Dummett’s strike against Liverpool remains the odd one out.
Stoke have lost just 1 of their last 8 Premier League matches.
Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse has netted in the last 3 matches between the teams – but he hasn’t scored in the Premier League this season.
Newcastle to win: 1.72
Stoke to win: 5
TV: Highlights on BBC1 at 10.25.