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Rupert Wyman 25th Sep 2010 - 18:07

Could it be a bridge Toon far?

For a Newcastle fan it is just one massive rollercoaster ride, they have their ups and regularly have their downs.

They were fantastic recently at home in a 6-0 win against an Aston Villa side that looked lost after the departure of Martin O'Neill.

However, in-front of their loyal fans they managed to fall apart against the Tangerine Army. They have also beaten a poor Everton side away from home and defeated the Champions Chelsea in the Carling Cup midweek.

I have maintained the belief since the start of this season that the Toon are too strong to be relegated. There are far poorer teams languishing in mid-table that are punching way above their weight in the Premier League.

Two seasons ago when Newcastle were relegated, the optimistic Newcastle fan realised that the club may need to take a step back to take at least two steps forward. They have kept many of the same players that were relegated with the club and have strengthened in all departments.

Jose Enrique looks like a Premier League defender, Carroll could be a future England international, Barton is out the tabloid papers and Nolan looks like the class midfielder that he was at Bolton.

Hughton has restored harmony at St James Park and Mike Ashley may once again be able to enjoy a pint with the Toon fans in one of St James Park's bars at half time.

Stoke have had a mixed start to the season and they will be desperate to take advantage of Newcastle's keeping situation. They are without Steve Harper for a few months, so Tim Krul is in the limelight. Stoke are capable of getting results away from home and will see three points as a realistic opportunity.

Newcastle rested some of their star players midweek and will revert to a full strength team. Barton, Carroll, Nolan and the temperamental Ben Arfa should be recalled. Pulis will recall some first team players after their midweek win against Fulham, but Pennant looks unlikely to be fit.

Newcastle are fancied to win at home and are priced at 19/20. The draw is 12/5 and the Stoke away win is 3/1.

Stoke are poor on the road in the Premier League and Newcastle's form at St James Park in the Premier League has been fantastic. Both teams are poor at the back but have some quality players going forward. With Carroll and Jones looking to find the net, I would back Over 2.5 goals at Even money.

Kevin Nolan has looked in superb form so far this season and he could be a good bet to score the first goal at 7/1. He is not afraid of shooting from distance and he is one of their most experienced players.



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