And so, the curtain looks to come down on an unbelievable Premier League season on Tyneside! Doubters proved wrong, owners in the good books (for some), talent brought in and the dizzy heights of the top 5 the ultimate ending place.
But…it’s not over yet!
A win at Everton and some misfortune for either Spurs or Arsenal and Newcastle United can see themselves perched in a Champion’s League spot for the first time since the 2002/03 season. And, as we know, a 4th place finish, as harsh as that would be on NUFC especially, still may not be enough and depends on Chelsea’s performance v Bayern Munich.
However, Everton are the ones Newcastle need to focus on first and foremost. In the last 6 between these two, they have shard the points – 2 wins apiece and 2 draws, 8 goals for Everton and 7 for the Toon.
Newcastle were the victors the last time out; a Ryan Taylor special from outside the box the difference in a 2-1 win at SJP back in November 2011. NUFC also won the last time these two met in the Premier League at Goodison Park – another special goal, this time from the enigmatic Hatem Ben Arfa, winning the game 0-1 in September 2010.
Everton are no pushovers though – they’ve won 6 of their last 7 home matches in Premier League, keeping a clean sheet in all 6 and they’ve scored at least 2 goals in their last 3 home games.
Everton in the Premier League:
Only Wolves (16.2) are successful in less tackles per game than the Toffee – 16.3 won per game on average.
At home, only WBA & Liverpool are caught offside more times per game than Everton – 2.9.
Only QPR & Bolton (both 0) have scored less goals in the league this season from a ‘fast break’ than the Merseyside Blues – 1, and that came away from home.
Everton have the lowest percentage for initiated attacks from central areas in the entire division – 26%.
However, they do happen to produce the highest percentage in the top flight for shots from central areas – 72%.
They also have the lowest percentage in the division for shots originating from the left hand side – 13%.
Only Liverpool spend a higher percentage of their possession in the opposition’s half than Everton in the Premier League games this season – 31%. NUFC have the 2nd lowest (26%).
Players to watch:
Leighton Baines – The full back is an absolute starlet for Everton! He has more touches than any other Blues player, producing most crosses, most total & clear cut chances, most passes in the final third and scored most clear cut chances. He has also made most final third entries for the blues, had most direct shots from free-kicks and hit the woodwork more than any of his team mates. A real danger man from left back!
Nikica Jelavic – The former Rangers man has 8 goals from his 9 Premier League starts for Everton, thus being their top goalscorer this season. He has a 57% shot accuracy rating and a very healthy 29% chance conversion.
Marouane Fellaini – The Belgain midfielder is an important player for the Toffees, somewhat underrated by some and a good, all-round player. No player at Everton produces or wins more tackles than Fellaini and he wins more 50-50 ground duels and aerial duels than any team mate. He also makes more total and successful passes at the club, most in the attacking half and had produced most shots straight after a set piece.
How to win this one:
NUFC will certainly not have this one their own way and must ensure they perform better than their performance away at Wigan, a team of similar playing ability. They must keep a close eye on Jelavic. He has proved he knows where the goal and even with the ‘driest’ of service, he seems to get his goals.
The biggest threat will more than likely come from Everton’s left hand side though, with Leighton Baines a constant menace. The right back spot has not been Newcastle’s toughest area at times this season and a double act of Baines & Pienaar could cause NUFC a lot of problems.
As a consequence though, Everton do leave a lot space in their right back position and Tony Hibbert is often isolated. The above average player positions for Everton’s last 6 Premier League games show the space often left between Hibbert and his centre halves and NUFC, particularly through Ba & Jonas, have got to exploit that area when the gaps open up.
A lot rests on this game, but at the same time, even if NUFC whitewash the Toffees, they could still be let down by results elsewhere. The best possible approach is to ensure they do everything they can to get a result and not be feared by anything – this has been a magnificent season either way and if results go the right way, then what a bonus that would be!!
NUFC_Stats prediction: 1-1