After the Christmas festivities have taken a back seat, the Premier League resumes with a full Boxing Day programme and Newcastle take on Stoke City at St James’ Park.

The sides are two of the most in-form teams in the league at the minute, with the Magpies having claimed 13 points from their last six games and The Potters, 11.

Alan Pardew’s side traditionally aren’t the best on Boxing Day, having only won three times in the last 19 years. However, on all but four of those occasions, the Geordies have been away from home so a home game will be widely welcomed.

The Toon manager has no new injury concerns after all of his side came through the win over Crystal Palace unscathed, so changes are unlikely. Shola Ameobi could be restored to the side though, having been rested against the Eagles as Pardew opted for a one-man strike force.

Hatem Ben Arfa is also pushing for a return to the starting line-up, having made a promising impact from the bench last time out. The Frenchman won the penalty for the third goal and set up Yoan Gouffran’s effort which came back off the post, so a starting place on the wing could beckon.

Cheick Tiote will miss the game through suspension, having picked up his fifth booking of the season against Palace, so Vurnon Anita is likely to keep his place in midfield. Moussa Sissoko is one yellow away from the same ban and has to survive games against Stoke and Arsenal before the deadline passes and all cautions are reset.

Mark Hughes’ side are unbeaten in their last four games but still struggle away from home, having only picked up two points away from their own patch in their last six. To put that into context, that record is alongside Cardiff City and Sunderland at the foot of the away form table.

One of the Potters’ leading lights this season has been former Toon loanee Stephen Ireland, who has found a new lease of life under Hughes, who managed him at Manchester City. Geordie fans will hardly welcome the Republic of Ireland international with open arms, having watched him pick up a huge wage while injured when on loan at St James’ Park back in 2011.

Ireland will likely return to the team after missing Stoke’s win over parent club Aston Villa, but giant German defender Robert Huth is out.

A win for Newcastle will keep up the pressure on the top five in the Premier League as the gap between the bunch tightens. Just six points separate the Magpies from the top of the table, so wins in the busy festive period are all the more important.