Stoke 0 Newcastle 1 – Monday 1 January 2018 3pm
Once again Newcastle fans were left scratching their heads at the team selection.
Rafa Benitez making five changes this time and playing with Ayoze Perez as the lone striker.
Three wingers selected with Christian Atsu tried in the middle behind Perez.
A very deserved win and to be honest Newcastle should have been out of sight, such was their superiority.
Stoke may have had 59% possession but in the true story of the match that is 100% misleading.
Atsu alone could have had a hat-trick, with two clear first half chances in particular.
Also in the first half, watch out for Ciaran Clark missing from two yards out, he will be very very relieved that Newcastle still won the game.
It looked like Newcastle United would once again suffer from an official’s decision, a clear penalty denied on Dwight Gayle, Zouma pushing the striker over shortly after his introduction in place of Atsu.
However, an excellent Murphy run a few minutes later, saw him go around his marker and a wonderful low cross eluded Wimmer, Perez producing a composed finish.
Stoke’s only tactic had been hoofing the ball hopefully in the direction of Peter Crouch and once the goal went in that became even more obvious.
The defence were magnificent and really earned their clean sheet, though two of Stoke’s three efforts on target came in the final few minutes.
Karl Darlow producing two superb saves, one of them a brilliant reflex one with his right hand from a close in header.
Hopefully this is their year to go down.
Happy New Year!
Stats from BBC Sport:
Stoke 0 Newcastle 1
Goals – Perez 73
Possession was Stoke 59% Newcastle 41%
Total shots were Stoke 7 Newcastle 13
Shots on target were Stoke 3 Newcastle 6
Corners were Stoke 10 Newcastle 5
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo, Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey, Atsu (Gayle 64), Murphy (Dummett 82), Perez (Hayden 90)
Woodman, Joselu, Merino, Haidara
Crowd: 28,471 (3,200 Newcastle)