Before looking ahead to that game though, I can’t not look back at the weekend, which saw the clouds that have hovered menacingly over Goodison Park for the last few months finally lift.
It was just great, wasn’t it? I don’t think Evertonians have enjoyed a Toffees match like that in a long, long time. The players too looked to be playing with a newfound freedom. They were positive, aggressive and always looking to play on the front foot.
The reaction Frank Lampard was given by the fans before, during and after the game suggests a connection has been restored after the corrosive toxicity of the Benitez era.
There is a long way to go of course but things could not have got off to a better start and should hopefully inject some much-needed confidence in the squad ahead of a critical week in the Premier League.
Don’t forget Everton are 16th in the table and just four points clear of the relegation zone, while Tuesday’s opponents Newcastle are 18th and can narrow that gap to just one point with a win.
Meanwhile Saturday’s opponents Leeds are one place and three points above the Toffees going into the midweek games.
Lampard was keen to play down the significance of this week, stressing that there will be 18 more matches to go after them. But there is no doubt that the next seven days could define the tone of the rest of the campaign.
Two wins and Everton will suddenly be back in mid-table, easing the pressure that has been steadily growing over the winter. That should allow the team to relax and express themselves without the immediate threat of dropping into the bottom three weighing down their shoulders.
Two defeats though and Everton could well find themselves in the drop zone, laying bare the scale of the task facing Lampard in the coming weeks.
Newcastle’s future was transformed late last year when the controversial Saudi-backed takeover went ahead, ending the joyless Mike Ashley era and making the Magpies the richest club in the world.
The fans are understandably dreaming of Mbappe and Neymar rocking up in black and white. But for now they need to avoid the drop.
Despite the excitement off the pitch it has been a miserable season on it so far. Eddie Howe replaced the unloved Steve Bruce in November but failed to spark an immediate uplift.
However, their 1-0 victory at Leeds last time out – only their second win in 23 games in all competitions - felt like a turning point.
Their cause has also been helped by the new owners flexing their muscles in the transfer market. Over £90m has been spent on Chris Wood, Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Dan Burn and Matt Targett.
Not the kind of glamour names Newcastle fans are dreaming of but the type of players you need for a relegation scrap – the stars can wait.
Everton 0-2 Newcastle, January 30, 2021
With December’s fixture at Goodison postponed because of Covid you have to go back more than a year for the previous meeting between the sides. Two late goals from Callum Wilson earned the Magpies victory that day as the Toffees’ form began to slide under Carlo Ancelotti.
Everton will be without Ben Godfrey after it was confirmed the defender will be sidelined for up to five weeks with a hamstring injury suffered against Brentford.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be in the squad though after recovering from a minor knock that saw him miss Saturday’s match.
Abdoulaye Doucoure and Fabian Delph are still several weeks away from a return, while Tom Davies is unlikely to play again this season.
January signings Anwar El-Ghazi, Dele Alli and Donny van de Beek will be available after being cup-tied for the Brentford match.
What they said
Everton manager Frank Lampard: “[Newcastle and Leeds] are important games but we have to stay calm because there is a long way to go. I come here with 18 league games left, so to put everything on these next two games, I think would be the wrong attitude.
“We have to absolutely isolate them, focus on them in the right way.
“They’re two strong teams. Newcastle are a strong team who have just reinforced themselves with signings and they have a passionate fanbase that can affect the game.
“It’s important for us to approach it without fear, with confidence but an understanding that it’s going to be a tough game.
“I don’t want us to put too much on these games - we’ve got a long season to go to get to where we want to be and at this point it’s about focusing on ourselves.”
Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe: “Every new manager naturally changes the dynamic slightly and asks his players to do slightly different things. I think Frank will have his philosophy and his way of playing, and I think that was quite evident against Brentford – I think we saw a team that was playing out from the back, comfortable in possession and certainly attacked very well on the day.
“I fully respect Frank, I know him well. I think he’s an outstanding manager and he’s got a great backroom team with him – really astute people, clever people that have gone in behind him to work with him and the players. I think they have a strong management team, a strong team on the pitch so – as always in every Premier League game – we’re going to have to be at our very best to win.”
Make no mistake, this is a huge game. Though I feel a whole lot more comfortable about it than I did a few weeks ago when Benitez was in charge.
It’s a tight turnaround from the Brentford game but the Toffees should head to the north east reinvigorated. Newcastle will be equally upbeat after their productive window and will be loudly backed by a sold out home support.
A tough one to call.