This Saturday our Toon charges take on the Toffees, the only side to have beaten us in our own back yard this year. On that occasion we were very much outplayed so lets hope the boys can put that right!
It’s easy to look at this game, look at the form tables and predict another three points along with a rise to 2nd in the League for this game.
However, despite losing five of their last six fixtures, Everton had to endure matches against the two Manchester sides, Liverpool and Chelsea, so maybe they can be forgiven. They are traditionally a very tough nut to crack and despite our excellent start to the season, we can expect them to put up a hell of a fight.
Having already lost Mike Williamson (ankle) and Shola Ameobi (hamstring) to long term injuries, we can now add Gabriel Obertan (toe infection) to the list for the next three weeks or so. Cheik Tiote is touch and go as he tries to overcome a knee complaint, so Danny Guthrie will be on standby following assured performances against Blackburn and Stoke.
An outside possibility should Tiote not make it would be Mehdi Abeid, touted by Pardew as Cheik’s replacement for the African Cup of Nations. He has been playing well for the reserves of late and scored a lovely curling shot in the midweek 2-0 win against Wigan. Hopefully Rob Elliot and Tim Krul will remain fit as we have no goalkeeper cover now that Ole Soderburg has gone out to Chesterfield on an emergency loan.
Key player Marouane Fellaini misses out following an accumulation of five yellow cards this season. Great news for us as he shares many similarities with Tiote and likes to put himself about (no not in that way, I don’t think?). Royston Drenthe is back from suspension and is likely to be included in the starting line up should David Moyes decide not to give the nod to Seamus Coleman instead. Tim Cahill, Sylvain Distin and Phil Neville are all likely to be declared fit following minor knocks.
Following a rigid display at tough away venue the Britannia Stadium on Monday night, Newcastle are likely to return to a more free flowing short passing game to suit the home game environment. So far this season Alan Pardew has stuck with the mantra of “don’t fix what aint broke’ and I cant see him risking unsettling the team shape by doing that now, so a 4-4-2 is likely with a straight swap on the wing seeing Sylvain Marveaux come in for the injured Obertan.
Cheik Tiote will probably make the match, in which case I can see him sticking even more rigidly to his defensive midfielder job than usual. This is because Everton generally play a 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1 formation that is based on dominating the middle of the park and pressing opposition sides high up the pitch. In Saha, they have a very effective finisher who on his day is extremely mobile and difficult to track.
By playing two defensive midfielders of their own, Everton ensure there is no space for creative players like Yohan Cabaye to find that neat pass through the middle. They play with high intensity, allowing Tim Cahill to roam free between midfield and attack and latch onto crosses out of nowhere. Out of all Everton’s matches so far this season, they have spent 26% of them camped up in the opposition’s final 3rd. If they are allowed to do that to us, our defenders will really get put to the test with Drenthe bombing down the right and Leon Osman drifting inside whilst Leighton Baines fires in the crosses.
The way to combat this is simple, make sure we press high ourselves and don’t let Everton overpower us. It will mean Marveaux (if he plays) ensuring he attacks Leighton Baines down the wing and not be tempted to drift inside as often as he would like to. This would allow Baines the space to run into and attack our flank which cannot happen, as his crosses for Cahill will be dangerous.
85% of Everton’s conceded goals this season have come from their right flank. Tony Hibbert is not the most mobile of full backs and should be targetted. Royston Drenthe is not exactly defensive minded, so Jonas Gutierrez could have real joy down the left provided he is supported by one of our two strikers drifting out and interchanging with him. Tiote will need to only come forward when absolutely safe to do so.
With Everton looking to press us themselves, everytime we do so they will be like a coiled spring and will break with great speed given half a chance. With Tiote sitting back even more so than usual, we will be afforded that extra protection should Everton try to drown us with their superior midfield numbers. He can also support Ryan Taylor and Danny Simpson whilst our wide men are making their way back from attacks of their own.
We will need Cabaye to be clever for this one. He will not get a seconds peace in the middle of the park and could easily get frustrated by it. He needs to keep a calm head and just bide his time for those killer balls he can thread through to the wingers or even through the middle to Ba should Best have any luck dropping back and dragging their defensive midfielders out of position.
The order of the day will again be very hard work, but we will need that bit of creativity if we are going to break Everton down. A tough result to call…
A word from Alan Pardew on the game:
“We are coming up against a very good established Premier League side in Everton, with a great manager and good players, and you have to respect every team in this division. And that is what we will do for the next game. We are playing with confidence and have got a decent side. How good it is, we don’t know, but we are just going from game to game at the moment. Expectation levels are not rising or going through the roof. Everybody has their feet on the ground and we are just hoping to keep it going.”
Facts and Stats:
Newcastle have played Everton at home 17 times in the Premier League, winning 10 and losing 3.
A brace from Nolberto Solano and a rare goal from Carl Cort saw us run out 6-2 winners in this fixture in 2002.
If Newcastle win, they move up to 2nd in the Premier League as Manchester United kick off later.
Only Demba Ba and Wayne Rooney have two hat-tricks so far in this Premiership season.
Ba has a higher goals to shots ratio than any of the Leagues top five scorers with a 47% success rate. Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero are the next closest with 35%.
Yohan Cabaye is top of our assists chart with three. Everton’s is Royston Drenthe (3), who has mainly played from the bench.
Cabaye is the 3rd top tackler in League with a success rate of 64%.
This is the first time Newcastle have begun a season unbeaten for 10 games or more since the 1995 season. You will have to go back to the 50’s to find the only occasion we have done it before then, with the record being 11 games – something the boys can equal if they get at least a draw against the Toffees.
Meet Andre Mariner. Born in the West Midlands, he should hopefully not be fussed either way about the result of this game. He was made a member of the Select Group of Referees in 2005 and joined the International list of Referees in 2009. He is pretty level headed and fair with the players, tending to only get his cards out two to three times per game – he prefers to let games flow.
Generally we do not have much luck with Andre. Out of the 10 games he has officiated for us, we have only managed three wins. That said, one of those was our 1-0 success over Everton at Goodison Park last season.
So there you have it ladies and gents. This will be a tough contest, but we have momentum on our side and over 50,000 fanatical followers expected to pack out the stadium and be that 12th man for our boys.
Hopefully Toonsy and the rest of the Black & White Army will be in good voice! At the time of writing this article, tickets were still available although there are very limited numbers left and it’s only really single tickets that remain. For those that cant make it, the game will be shown on Sky Sports.
Newcastle United v Everton
Venue: St. James’ Park
Kick Off: 12:45 pm
Howay the lads!