Newcastle United are playing their final match of a very disappointing 2014 today against an out of form Everton side. Both teams desperately need a win after an average first half of the campaign, with both holding hopes of a European challenge, but that’s looking unlikely given their current positions. Either team would benefit from a victory to carry momentum into the new year.
Newcastle have conceded 3 or more goals eleven times in 2014, which is the highest for a calender year since 1975. In our last 38 matches, we have only picked up 42 points, which is relegation form in anybody’s definition, but Pardew is as safe as houses, especially after a modest winning run. Alan Pardew has lost 21 of his last 38 matches in charge of Newcastle, which is a worrying stat, considering he isn’t close to the door. Fan pressure will build again and the next two matches at home are crucial. Newcastle have had a difficult run and with a trip to Chelsea to come, they need to gain some momentum against Everton and Burnley.
Everton were excellent last year as Roberto Martinez showed he had the character to lead a bigger club than Wigan after taking his side to the brink of Champions League qualification. However with the added pressure of the Europa League, his side have struggled as the squad have been stretched and key injuries and players being out of form have hindered them so far. They’ve lost four of their last six matches in the league, over a difficult run, but Martinez would have been hoping for better results against Southampton and Burnley.
Last season Everton won both matches and scored three times in both, a number of goals conceded that Newcastle fans see far too often. In the corresponding fixture, Ross Barkley, Romulu Lukaku and Leon Osman scored the goals in a convincing 3-0 win. At Goodison Park, the home side triumphed 3-2, with a Lukaku brace and Barkley finding the net. For Newcastle, Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy scored the goals, but neither are still at the club. Romulu Lukaku will be a key man today as the Belgian has scored four in four against the Magpies. The Toffees have won on three of their last five visits to St James’ Park.
Davide Santon is set for a return to first team action, but is likely to take a place on the bench. Massadio Haidara could start as Paul Dummett is struggling with a knock. Rolando Aarons, Tim Krul, Rob Elliot and Mehdi Abeid are all out injured. Cheick Tiote returns after missing the match at Old Trafford. Siem de Jong, Ryan Taylor and Jonas Gutierrez are all closing in on a return over the coming weeks. Papiss Cisse is likely to start after being on the bench for the last two matches.
Kevin Mirallas, John Stones, Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka are all doubts and will face late fitness tests. Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman, Darron Gibson and Besic are all going to miss out this weekend, while Christian Atsu is a doubt. Romulu Lukaku and Ross Barkley are likely to start and both have excellent records against Newcastle.
- The last four meetings between Everton and Newcastle at St James’ Park have all seen exactly three goals scored
- Everton have won four and lost none of their last five Premier League meetings with Newcastle United
- There have been just seven goals scored in the last five Premier League games at St James’, with four of them ending in a 1-0 scoreline
- The Toffees have lost just two of the last 15 away games in the Premier League against the three teams from the North East (W8 D5 L2)
- The Magpies have lost five of their last six matches at St James’ Park played between Christmas and New Year (W1 L5).
Taken from Sky Sports.
Team Line Up
I’d go with this team as the front four would provide a lot of attacking ability and we need that to break down defences. Our defence hasn’t been strong enough to play the brand of football Pardew wants, so we need to be more expansive. Perez and Sissoko have been really good lately, while Janmaat and Haidara would provide width from full back, allowing Perez and Cabella to move infield more where they both thrive.
Likely Line Up
I can see Pardew being more defensive and playing Sissoko and Gouffran out wide, while expecting Perez and Colback to be the attacking threat in the middle, especially after conceding so many goals lately.
I think it will be a tight game with both sides trying to avoid defeat rather than going on to win the match. The games at SJP haven’t seen many goals and I expect this one not to have many either. Either side could nick it with a bit of luck, but a draw looks the most likely result, especially if the midfield gets packed as I expect. Pardew has already said that four points out of the next six would be a good return and that highlights his flaws as a manager. We should be aiming to win every game at home, especially when the opponents are an out of form Everton side. They have been good against us lately, and that could see confidence return, but a quick start from us could put them on the back foot and make it hard for them to recover. Pardew will be defensive though and a draw will be likely.
How do you think we’ll get on in this game? Have your say in our discussion thread.