A tally of two wins from two home games has Everton fans reconsidering their expectations for the final few games of the season. With Arsenal's implosion against Chelsea, the Blues now lie eight points outside the top four, with a game in hand and a match against the Gunners at Goodison Park to come. Renewed talk of a Champions League push is fanciful at best, but if Everton are to keep their dream alive they must beat an erratic Newcastle side at St James' Park.
Phil Jagielka has been named fully fit by Roberto Martinez, and will likely return to the side to partner Sylvain Distin at centre back. Steven Pienaar remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Newcastle's injury worries are more significant. Right back Mathieu Debuchy is out with tonsillitis, but more worryingly the Magpies will be without top scorer Loic Remy. Remy's form has been excellent this season, but without him in the side Newcastle have struggled massively, netting just one goal - Saturday's late winner against Crystal Palace - in the league when he hasn't featured.
Keys to the Game
Newcastle's scoring woes are well documented, but Everton have struggled to shut out the opposition of late, keeping just two clean sheets in the league since December. The return of Jagielka should help, but the Blues will mainly be reliant on their attacking talents to ensure that a goal conceded doesn't prove costly.
Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley both scored on Saturday against Swansea City, and they were both on the score sheet when the Toffees beat Newcastle 3-2 at Goodison all the way back in September. Aiden McGeady was also lively at the weekend, but Kevin Mirallas' lethargic performance could see Gerard Deulofeu restored to the starting 11 to wreak havoc with the Toon's deputy full back.
- Everton haven't lost in four Premier League meetings with Newcastle, winning three of those encounters.
- The Blues have also won on two of their last three visits to St James' Park.
- Newcastle just edge the overall head to head record between the two sides in the league, winning 62 occasions to Everton's 61.
- No Premier League fixture has produced more than the 17 penalties awarded in Newcastle versus Everton matches.