Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday April 10 2009
11th April 2009
After last week's great away win against the Baggies, there is a mammoth game this Saturday at the Brit with the visit of the Toon Army led by their latest so-called 'Messiah', General Shearer.
Shearer's arrival has been much trumpeted but tomorrow's TV test has put all the pressure on the Toon Army as they attempt to escape relegation. A win for the Potters will catapult us to within spitting distance of another season in the Premier League. A defeat will close the gap at the bottom and provide a nervous couple of weeks with fellow relegation candidates, Blackburn Rovers next up at the Brit in a week.
The atmosphere should be electric with a full house and the Setanta TV cameras in attendance with the Potters looking for their third win on the bounce.
Alan Shearer is facing an uphill task but knowing your problem and doing something about it are two different things. He certainly knows about Stoke, but can he make a difference?
'We know what we are facing but can we handle it? We have to brave and strong.'
If Danny Higginbotham can strug off a back strain picked up at West Brom it should be the same starting eleven that beat the Baggies. Abdoulaye Faye will be relishing the tie against his former club.
Tony Pulis reckons that Matt's been working under the radar whilst James Beattie takes all the credit. He's brought some badly needed width to the Potters attack, but his rash red card at Sunderland is now long behind him and his performance at The Hawthorns shows that he could be a big threat against the Magpies.
Can someone who was a player and football pundit be really the man to lead the Toon Army to safety? All Shearer can do is attempt to inspire his team but with only two wins on the road this season it's a big ask.
Shearer is leaning heavily on his former England teammate to come up with the goods. Owen has only made 16 starts this season but two of his eight goals did come against the Potters in the 2-2 draw at St James Park back in December.
Chris Foy. Oh dear - don't you just remember him sending off Andy Wilkinson whilst sparing Ronaldo and Rooney in his last appearance at the Brit on Boxing Day?
Saturday 18th April: Blackburn Rovers (home) kick-off: 3pm
Saturday 25th April: Fulham (away) kick-off: 3pm
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Date:Friday April 10 2009
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