One last weekend of Premier League football is about to ensue as Newcastle head to Everton looking to pull off an unlikely upset and qualify for the Champions League.
To do so, United will have to put a stop to a rather alarming run of final day form which has seen us fail to record a Premier League win away from home on the final day of the season, ever.
Mind you this season has been full of little record breaking performances and I wouldn’t put it past the lads to set another one straight at Goodison. It won’t be easy though – going to Goodison is rarely easy – so the lads will need to be in top form if they are to come away with the win that would put us in a position to capitalise on any slip up made by either Arsenal or Tottenham, or indeed both!
The good news is that there is no new news with regard to injury. Danny Simpson has already been ruled out and will join Haris Vuckic, Steven Taylor, Peter Lovenkrands and Sammy Ameobi on the sidelines.
Jack Rodwell is definitely out of action, as is Victor Anichebe, although David Moyes will be hoping there is more positive news with regard to Leighton Baines, Darron Gibson and Phil Neville, all of whom will be judged closer to the match.
Newcastle beat Everton 2-1 at St James’ park earlier on in the season, with an own goal from John Heitinga and a stunning effort from Ryan Taylor (see below) doing the damage on the day and ensuring Jack Rodwell’s goal just before half time was a mere consolation for the Toffees.
Our last trip to Goodison ended up yielding three points thanks to a rather special goal from Hatem Ben Arfa – his first for the club. However our record on the North side of Stanley Park has been hit and miss throughout the Premier League era. In 16 trips to Goodison we’ve won five times, drawn four times and lost seven times, or nine times if you add a League Cup tie and FA Cup tie into the equation.
Overall this will be the 162nd time the two sides have met in all competitions. Newcastle shade Everton by 64 wins to 63, with 34 draws making up the numbers.
Tactics and team selection
We’ve seen a switch back to 4-4-2 in recent weeks, with a 2-0 win against Chelsea and a 2-0 reverse against City to show for our efforts. This comes after a stint of playing 4-3-3 which saw us win six out of seven games, with the one loss being the heavy defeat to Wigan.
I have a sneaky feeling that we’ll line up 4-4-2 for this one, with the main aim being getting Demba Ba a goal before the season concludes. Of course that stands more chance of happening if Demba is in more dangerous, more central positions.
The goalkeeper picks himself, as do the back four without Simpson and Steven Taylor. Midfield is another area which is likely to cause a surprise, and it’s pretty much nailed on that Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse will start. The only real question is in which formation we start them…
Newcastle have failed to come from behind to win a game this season.
A win would gibe Newcastle their joint second best Premier League points total, and would surpass any total amassed by the late great Sir Bobby Robson.
Newcastle have not scored an own goal all season!
If Shola starts, it will be his 150th Premier league start for the club.
Cheik Tiote could make his 50th Premier League start.
Captain Coloccini has never been used as a substitute for NUFC, but has made 153 appearances for the club.
Everton have the third meanest defence in the division having conceded just 39 goals – a tally better only by the two Manchester clubs.
David Moyes has his side in form at the moment. Unbeaten in eight game, the Toffees have won four of them.
This is a “home banker” fixture. The away side has only won twice in 18 attempts. One was last season when Hatem Ben Arfa weaved his magic, but when was the other?
It sounds churlish to say that this season hinges on this one game, because we’ve already surpassed what even the most positive expected this season. To be still in with a shout of qualifying for the Champions League with one game remaining is exceptional and credit must go to the layers and management for it. Clearly they were underestimated by many…
Having said that, to bow out with a whimper would be a huge discredit to the players who have performed so well this season. Yes qualifying for the Champions League is out of our hands, but let’s crank up the pressure whilst we can. Remember, it isn’t us who needs to be in the Champions League!
Howay the lads!
Date: Sunday, 13th May, 2012
Venue: Goodison Park