Fabricio Coloccini - Newcastle United News

After an extended break thanks to the failure of their FA Cup campaign, Newcastle United return to Premier League action when they welcome Stoke City to St James’ Park tomorrow. With Arsenal dropping points at home to Wigan on Monday night, a win for the Geordies could see them go within two points of the Gunners, who currently sit third in the table.

Alan Pardew’s side are currently enjoying a five-match winning streak and could make it six if they banish serial hackers Stoke. The reverse fixture was one of the finest performances of the season, as a Demba Ba inspired Toon side took all three points at the Britannia.

Newcastle have only won six in a row three times since the Premier League’s inception back in 1993, so a victory tomorrow will be another pleasing milestone in this season’s impressive campaign.

Much of the recent success has been a direct correlation with the excellent form of Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa, who both seem to have found top form since arriving on Tyneside. The former has hit the ground running with nine goals since January, whilst Ben Arfa’s wonder goal against Bolton last time out has proved that the horrific broken leg has not affected his sometimes breathtaking ability.

Stoke will undoubtedly attempt to stop the flying Frenchman by kicking him though, whilst their attacks will inevitably come from set pieces and long throw ins, courtesy of Rory Delap and Ryan Shotton.

Despite not having a game in nearly two weeks, Newcastle were in action in the week when they entertained Newcastle Eagles in a basketball game and were soundly beaten. Tim Krul has since been struggling with a back injury and missed training on Thursday, although no comment has been made as to whether the stopper picked up the knock whilst shooting hoops.

Peter Lovenkrands, Haris Vuckic and Steven Taylor all remain out for the Geordies, but there is good news as Leon Best, Steve Harper and Sylvain Marveaux are back in training. Should Krul not recover from the back injury, Rob Elliott could be in for his Premier League debut.

The Potters have also enjoyed an extended break in the build-up to this match and were most likely in greater need for it, having played more games than most thanks to their Europa League campaign earlier in the season. The days of entertaining Valencia at the Britannia look all but over though, as Stoke currently sit 14th in the league table.

With 6th place looking almost certain to carry a Europa League berth next season, it looks like Newcastle will be heading for the continent in some capacity in 2012. However, with recent form and momentum, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Alan Pardew had started dreaming of a Champions League place.