After picking up four points from a possible six before last weekend the fires surrounding Mark Hughes had been dampened ever so slightly but after a crushing 5-0 defeat away at Chelsea just two days ago it looks like the flames have been fanned once again as questions surround the security of the former Wales manager.
The fact that this was their second trip to London in the space of the month where they have conceded a five goal haul cannot be ignored, it was Tottenham at the start of the December and Chelsea at the end of it as 2017 came to a very miserable end.
With scorelines like those mentioned above being racked up against them it comes as no surprise that the club have conceded the most Premier League goals in the division this season, with a staggering 46 goals against in just 21 matches.
That is a ratio of more than two goals against per game, if this was extrapolated until the end of the campaign then the Potters would have shipped no fewer than 83 goals. If that does prove to be the case and they stay up then either their has been a miracle at the Bet365 or their attack has got them out of a very deep hole indeed.
Which when you consider the fact that they have scored the most goals in the bottom half of the Premier League this season points that their is an element of truth to that as they lie 15th in the table at present keeping their heads just above water in terms of staying out of the drop zone.
They are just two points clear of the bottom three and quite simply there is no margin for error at the moment, a win would once again buy Stoke and by extension Mark Hughes a bit more breathing space but at the same time defeat will only increase the pressure.
Especially as today’s opponents Newcastle currently lie in 16th, knowing that a win for them would see them leapfrog Stoke and in turn ease their own plight as they also battle to beat the drop after being promoted as EFL Championship winners last season.
Newcastle’s form as of late has been largely forgettable with just one win in their last six matches, that coming at the London Stadium when a 3-2 win halted the momentum of David Moyes’ men and made sure they did not spend Christmas in the drop zone.
They also improved their own fortunes slightly last Saturday when they picked up a point in front of their own fans against a Brighton. After getting something of a backlash from the press after his negative tactics in the previous game against Manchester City, Rafa Benitez’s men at least had something of a go this time around.
But the same end result in terms of goals was the same as they draw another blank but at least they earned a point for their troubles and with Stoke having such a pourous defence this season would have to expect that Benitez would look to adopt the same dynamic approach that saw then win against West Ham.
If they can take the game to a Stoke side that is leaking goals for fun this season then they will have every chance of coming away with at least something for their troubles. They however are another team that have found goals an issue in this campaign.
They are scoring less than a goal a game (19 goals from 21 matches) and with the sale of the club stalling, this could mean that Benitez does not get the funds required in which to add an additional forward to his squad in a bid to beat relegation.
Whether they have the firepower to fully take advantage of Stoke this afternoon remains to be seen especially as the hosts save their drubbings primarily for their away fixtures. The home side dare not lose today, I think this one could well end up in a draw.