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Everton v Newcastle: Match preview

Everton look for a welcome home win against the Magpies.

Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

After the frustration and bitter rancour that stemmed from last month’s home defeat to Swansea and the semi-final loss at Man City, Everton have built some bridges with the fans thanks to Sunday’s comfortable FA Cup win at Carlisle and a £13.5m striker being signed on deadline day.

So what are the chances of undoing that good work back at Goodison on Wednesday?

Everton’s home ground has not been a happy place in recent weeks, with the Toffees without a win on their home turf since November and the atmosphere in the stands growing increasingly agitated with each passing game.

The fans have grown tried at the same mistakes being repeated week in week out, with Everton's chances of European football steadily diminishing as a result.

Relations between the supporters and manager Roberto Martinez are at an all time low, with some now convinced that the Spaniard is not the man to take Everton forward.

The presence of Newcastle in the fixture list should give them encouragement if the history books are anything to go by. Everton have won five of the last six meetings between the sides while Newcastle have won only three of their last 12 league trips to Goodison.

Newcastle are also one of only six teams Everton managed to beat during the first half of the season thanks to Tom Cleverley's header in the final minute of stoppage-time at St James' Park on Boxing Day.

That said, Swansea had never beaten Everton in the league until last week and looked what happened there.

The opposition

Newcastle have responded to a poor first half of the season by recruiting heavily during the January transfer window. Steve McClaren, who only joined the club in the summer, has spent nearly £30m on Jonjo Shelvey, Andros Townsend and Henri Saivet while Seydou Doumbia joined on loan from Roma on deadline day.

The Toon boss will hope those recruits will give his side a greater attacking threat and lift them out of the relegation zone after collecting just 21 points from 23 games so far.

It is telling though that 18th-placed Newcastle have won just one game less than Everton this season and victory at Goodison Park will close the gap on The Toffees to just five points.

Scary.

Team news

Never has a knock in training caused so much excitement.

The much-criticised Tim Howard is doubtful for Wednesday’s game after sustaining an injury on Monday and will be assessed close to kick-off. Joel Robles will start in goal should Howard not make it.

Kevin Mirallas is unlikely to return from a knee injury while Muhamed Besic is definitely out with a hamstring strain. Deadline day signing Oumar Niasse wasn’t registered in time and so will have to wait until Saturday to make his debut.

The final word

The wider football media has begun to wake up to Everton’s malaise in recent weeks and another defeat here would really turn the heat up on Martinez, who I feel has been given an easy ride by the press given his poor recent record.

There is no question that the squad is under-achieving whatever Martinez’s comments to the contrary. A win on Wednesday could at least lift Everton back into the top half of the table and perhaps give the frustrated fanbase hope of a much better second half to the season than the first.

Predicted starting XI: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Coleman, Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley, Barkley, Deulofeu, Lukaku.