The last time Everton took on Newcastle at home one of the teams was contending for a Champions League position and one was just playing out the schedule. Despite their domination on the day, you couldn't tell it was Everton who were not going to be playing European football this year and the game ended 3-1.
After the debacle at The Hawthorns, a raucous Monday night crowd should be exactly what the doctor ordered to get Everton back to their dominant ways. More after the jump.
David Moyes escaped the international break relatively unscathed, as all his players who went away on country duty came back fit except Darron Gibson, unlike Alan Pardew whose squad is nursing all sorts of injuries. The talismanic midfieder Gibson is going to be out for 4-5 weeks with a thigh injury. New signing Bryan Oviedo still doesn't have his paperwork cleared and will not be eligible for the squad this weekend.
Team News -
With Gibson out, we can expect to see Phil Neville in midfield.. cue the gnashing of the teeth and the beating of the breasts. One wonders if Moyes really has the invention to use someone else in that holding midfielder role? The backline should remain the same, with Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka and Tony Hibbert from left to right. Steven Pienaar should have his customary left wing spot and possibly Seamus Coleman on the opposite side. Marouane Fellaini is a lock for his spot at the top of the midfield circle, and Kevin Mirallas should get the start ahead of Steven Naismith, with Nikica Jelavic in the sole striker role.
The Magpies will be missing goalkeeper Tim Krul, defenders Fabricio Coloccini, Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor, midfielders Cheick Tiote and Haris Vuckic, and striker Shola Ameobi, all through injuries. Pardew will have a younger backline with three of the five who started in defence this season now out.
Keys To The Game -
As has been noted in a few locations, Leighton Baines versus Hatem Ben Arfa might be the defining battle of this game. Everton will attempt to press up high on Newcastle, not giving the talented midfield any space or time to launch their attacks from. When they have the ball, expect Baines and Pienaar to link up quick and often, trying to release Fellaini and Jelavic into space.
Newcastle have two excellent opportunistic strikers in Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba, and will be well served to remember the last time they visited here, when they sat back trying to absorb the Everton pressure and were badly overwhelmed. It's still early in the season and if Pardew is in the mood to gamble, he might throw out a 4-3-3 lineup with Ben Arfa deep on the right to occupy Baines. Otherwise expect a pedestrian 4-4-2 with Ben Arfa playing in midfield to watch Pienaar instead.
Match Facts -
- The head-to-head is very curiously poised - both teams have won 64 games each, with 34 draws (including Cup fixtures)
- Oddly enough, both teams have scored exactly 244 goals each in those fixtures too.
- Last week's loss at West Brom marked the end to an 11-game unbeaten run for Everton.
- The Toffees are 8-1-1 in their last ten home games in the Premiership.
- Newcastle's next Premier League goal will be their 1,000th.