Marko Arnautovic is confident he can continue to provide the goal threat in Stoke City’s Europa League qualification bid as they host a struggling Newcastle United side seeking to ease their away-day gloom on Wednesday.
Austrian forward Arnautovic scored both goals as Stoke beat rock-bottom Aston Villa 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.
That took his league tally for the season to nine and the 26-year-old is enjoying his most prolific campaign since he scored 12 for Twente in the 2008-09 Eredivisie.
Manchester City’s League Cup final victory means sixth place is likely to be enough to earn a berth in UEFA’s second-tier competition next term, with Stoke just four points shy of incumbents West Ham.
And Arnautovic is desperate to keep contributing goals to the Potters’ challenge.
“I have never been in this situation where I have been the top scorer and scored so many goals,” he told the Stoke Sentinel.
“It’s new for me, but I like it. I want to score but I also want to make assists, I want to be important for the team.
“How it is now can go on. I am happy with that and I think the team is also happy with me. We try to do our thing, the best in every game, and we will see where that takes us to at the end of the season.”
Stoke were boosted by Geoff Cameron coming through unscathed against Villa in what was his first appearance since January 5 after recovering from an ankle injury.
The versatile United States international will continue to help fill the void created by injuries to captain Ryan Shawcross (back), Marc Muniesa (knock), Glen Johnson and Marc Wilson (both knee).
Relegation-threatened Newcastle, meanwhile, travel to Britannia Stadium in desperate need of improving their away form.
Only Villa have managed fewer than the Magpies’ seven points on the road this season, while in their past 20 away league fixtures, Newcastle have scored just nine and conceded 48.
Steve McClaren’s men, who are 18th, have won two of their past 10 league fixtures and Newcastle have not won at the Britannia since recording a 3-1 victory in October 2011.
The Magpies were battered 5-1 by Chelsea in their last Premier League outing, but McClaren will have had the benefit of 18 uninterrupted days to work with his team by the time of Wednesday’s contest.
Papiss Cisse, who has scored in three of four Premier League starts against Stoke, is set to return from a groin injury to boost Newcastle’s attacking options, but Aleksandar Mitrovic (knee) is doubtful.
McClaren is also set to make a late decision on captain Fabricio Coloccini (calf).
Key Opta stats:
– The last four Barclays Premier League meetings between Stoke City and Newcastle United have seen just four goals scored, with two of the games resulting in 1-0 home wins for Stoke City.
– The Potters have won four of the last five Premier League home games against the Magpies (L1).
– Steve McClaren’s side have kept just one clean sheet in their last 11 Premier League games.
– Newcastle have lost 16 of their last 20 Premier League away games (W2 D2 L16) including the last five in a row.
– Papiss Cisse has scored in three of his four Premier League starts against Stoke and in one of his three substitute appearances too.
– Marko Arnautovic has scored six goals in his last eight Premier League appearances at Britannia Stadium.
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