Denis Smith: Potters will give Newcastle their stiffest test yet
L ET'S not over-react too much after losing to Liverpool in the Carling Cup.
Be disappointed by all means, but this is no time for taking an axe to some areas of the team.
Losing to a very good Liverpool team who played well on the night is certainly no disgrace.
I understand Ryan Shawcross has come in for some stick, with some people wondering whether it is time for a break as he's only missed one of Stoke's 18 fixtures this season.
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Well I've still got faith in him at centre-half ... and I fancy Tony Pulis has too.
Many are blaming Ryan for Liverpool's second goal on Wednesday night, and I can see why.
But it's easy for a defender in his position to follow the ball for a split second when it's cleared before being hit straight back into the box.
Let's also give Luis Suarez credit for his movement, which has left many a defender trailing in his wake this year.
And as a centre-half, you are left asking whether your full-back should back you up by tucking in quickly enough to block the striker's run.
Throw in the fact that Ryan has had a good season so far, and I see no reason for Tony to change it for Newcastle on Monday.
There was also a question mark over Asmir Begovic after his mistakes at Arsenal last weekend, especially as Thomas Sorensen again proved what a fine keeper he is with his excellent performance against Liverpool.
What Tony will be doing is taking a good, hard look at Begovic in training.
He will be watching his body language to see whether he is behaving normally ... or whether his confidence has been hit.
That said, Tony has come out publicly in support of Begovic, which suggests his keeper remains determined to right those wrongs and isn't intimidated by his errors at The Emirates.
It is a big game for both Stoke and Newcastle on Monday because the result could go some way towards shaping their seasons.
Stoke will want to show they are a bona fide top-half team against unbeaten league opposition, while Newcastle will want to show that their midweek Carling Cup defeat at Blackburn was just a fluke.
I think this will be Newcastle's toughest league game so far – certainly away from home. Their fixture list hasn't been as tricky or as long as Stoke's.
Everyone is saying what a wonderful season Tim Krul is having in the Newcastle goal, which tells me they maybe aren't quite as good as their results suggest.
Krul has waited a long time to get his chance, but he will have to prove his ability over a much longer period to get the nod from the experts.
The same goes for Demba Ba in attack. Yes, he's done OK, but can he do it over a period of about two seasons?
That's the measure of a top striker because people tend to work you out after a while and start making life a lot more difficult for you.
So the jury is still out for me on a player who was close to joining Stoke in January.
There will be those cursing the club for not taking a gamble, but with £8m on his head and a doubt about his knee, Stoke were right to be cautious.
He should certainly get his quota of chances because Newcastle are playing with two wingers who love to get forward.
And with Stoke also having attacking width in their ranks, it could be a cracker on Monday evening.