Mark Lawrenson has cast his eye over the Newcastle v Stoke fixture this afternoon.

The BBC pundit saying that despite the 3-0 scoreline, Newcastle were the better side and that there was a much improved balance in defence and attack.

I’m not sure whether to be pleased or worried but just like Paul Merson, Mark Lawrenson has also tipped is to win this weekend, though only by a narrow 2-1 scoreline.

Can’t disagree with what Lawrenson says but as anybody who watched the derby knows, Sunderland were absolutely shocking and Sam Allardyce gifted the bulk of possession to Newcastle in that first half by being so negative.

The fact Newcastle lost and they won was nothing to do with Allardyce, he got so so lucky and it was despite his tactics and not because of them, that the result was what it was.

Stoke won’t be such a soft touch and have won four of their last five matches in all competitions, can Newcastle give us an action replay of the positives and dominance of that first half at the Stadium of Light?

If so, we will be well on our way to victory if Newcastle’s attacking players have their shooting boots on this weekend.

Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport:

‘Newcastle’s 3-0 derby defeat by Sunderland looks awful if you did not see the game – they were the better side until they conceded a penalty and had Fabricio Coloccini sent off.

Before that, there were a few signs they were starting to get it together. The Magpies had much better balance in defence and attack and I think that will continue on Saturday.

While Newcastle had the week off, Stoke boss Mark Hughes picked a strong team on Tuesday for his side’s Capital One Cup tie with Chelsea – which they won on penalties – and having to play extra-time will not have helped the Potters.

Stoke’s home defeat by Watford last weekend was a strange slip-up and I don’t think they will be as bad as that again, but I am still backing Newcastle.’