Cast your minds back to September and you will no doubt remember that Newcastle managed to outplay Everton in their own back yard. The score was only 1-0 that day thanks to a truly stunning strike from Hatem Ben Arfa, but it could have been more had the referee not missed a blatant elbow by Screech Fellaini and a blatant foul on Kevin Nolan by Seamus Coleman that would have seen the young Everton defender see red for bringing down the last man and would have resulted in the Toffee’s conceding a penalty that would have put the game beyond doubt.
It’s all in the past now, but it was a fantastic result won by a fantastic individual goal which was backed up by a fantastic team performance. Unfortunately, it counts for nothing tomorrow though.
Joey Barton is fighting to be fit enough to resume first-team duties, as is our very own man in the mask, Shola Ameobi, who has trained all week and is apparently becoming more accustomed to his new headgear.
Stephen Ireland was close to making a comeback this weekend but unfortunately suffered a knock to his thigh in training which will mean that he won’t be risked. Hatem Ben Arfa is back in light training although won’t feature for the first team for some time yet whilst Danny Guthrie is probably just too short on match fitness to return to action. Dan Gosling and Alan Smith are out with injury whilst Ryan Taylor, thankfully, starts his three game suspension as punishment for his wild lunge at Johan Elmander against Bolton last week.
The big dilemma regarding trying to name a team is just who we are going to play on the right wing if Barton isn’t fit enough to play. We could try Jonas on the right with Lovenkrands on the left, or we could play as we did against Bolton when we went down to ten men and play three at the back with Simpson and Enrique operating as wing-backs. For the puposes of my selection though, I am going to assume that Barton is fit enough to feature. That will leave us with a team that looks a bit like this:
Newcastle: Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Joey Barton, Cheik Tiote, Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Peter Lovenkrands, Leon Best.
As for the away side, Everton will be without Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini for the trip to Tyneside. Both players will be a miss for them as they are both important players to Everton. Mind you, they will still be a danger and will offer a threat against us even without those two players.
There is no doubt that they will be smarting at being dumped out of the FA Cup to Reading during the week, so Newcastle will need to be wary of a backlash from the blue bindippers as they seek to put things right for their fans. FA Cup exit aside, their last league match was a 2-0 victory over the “massive” unwashed in which one time Toon target Jermaine Beckford grabbed both goals. Their team for that day was named as follows.
Everton: Tim Howard, Phil Neville, Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin, Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Mikel Arteta, Marouane Fellaini, Leon Osman, Jermaine Beckford, Louis Saha.
This is the 160th meeting between the two sides, and it’s currently Newcastle who hold the upper hand with 63 wins compared to Everton’s 62. It’s been 51 games since Everton last lost back to back matches, although they haven’t won at St James’ Park since the year 2000.
Newcastle have lost just one game out of the last nine matches and haven’t won a home game since the 5-0 victory over West Ham just over two months ago. The record of not winning a 3pm Premier League home game now stands at two years and six months.
Newcastle have acquired the most yellow cards in the league this year (59) whilst Everton have yet to be awarded a penalty this season. I don’t like stats like that, especially with Howard Webb taking control of the game tomorrow afternoon!
I believe that this will be another tight game. The lack of crucial players for Everton should hopefully tip the balance of power in our favour, but unfortunately these little facts tend to kick Newcastle in the balls and we ultimately end up not taking advantage of the situation. This is why I’m not predicting anything!
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