International breaks are supposed to be a time spent on recuperation and ensuring that the players already on the treatment table have a chance of playing the next game after a fortnight off.
However there is also a possibility of any players who disappear for international duty returning home injured, and that is just what has happened with Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini, who picked up elbow and hamstring injuries respectively.
That means we will be going to Goodison Park on reserves which is not a good sign so early in the season, especially when you have seven games in the next twenty days in all competitions to consider. Krul and Colo join Cheik Tiote, Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor on the treatment table while James Perch, Haris Vuckic and the Ameobi brothers are all at least back in training if not ready to feature for the first team.
For Everton they only have to worry about the absence of Darron Gibson and perhaps Steven Pienaar although reports indicate that the South African schemer should be fit and available for selection by David Moyes.
In terms of history at Goodison Park, ours doesn’t make for exciting reading. We’ve won their five times since the inception of the Premier League, with Everton winning on nine occasions. There have been four draws between the two sides at Goodison Park. You could nudge it to six victories for us if you count Ian Rush and his FA Cup 3rd Round winner for us back in 1998.
Our overall record on the blue half of Merseyside isn’t too clever either. Of 81 games at Goodison in all competitions, Everton have won 45 times compared to Newcastle’s 21 victories. In all competitions, and at all grounds, there have been 162 meetings between the two sides. Both sides have won 64 times with the other 34 ending as a draw, obviously.
So how about teams?
As far as team selection goes our only real area of concern is defence. Steve Harper will step in for Tim Krul, which then only leaves the hole at right-back to fill along with the considerable absence of Fabricio Coloccini to attempt to fill.
If Cheik Tiote had been fit I would have said we’d see Vurnon Anota trusted with right-back duty after impressing there against Aston Villa, but I believe James Perch will be given the nod for that particular position. Of course we could still play Anita at right-back should Perch not prove his fitness, and then we could play Gael Bigirimana (again impressive against Villa) next to Yohan Cabaye in the middle of the park. Personally I think this game may be too much for young Gael though. A left field solution, and one that would rile the Everton fans, would be to give Dan Gosling the nod at right-back although I really can’t see that one happening!
The other position worth considering is centre-back which I also think will be fairly easy to solve. Step forward “Scapegoat” Mike Williamson who will be watched by many people who will be itching for him to make a mistake of some sort. I’m fairly certain he’ll get the nod to partner Steven Taylor and in truth his height may well be needed against the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavić.
Everton have made a decent start to the Premier League this time around with wins against Aston Villa and Manchester United to their credit, although they were followed up by a loss against West Brom. Newcastle also haven’t made a bad start to the campaign if you look at their points tally. A win over Spurs was followed by a loss to the reigning European Champions and their squad which was bolstered to the tune of over £100 million over the summer whilst a draw against Aston Villa rounded off our league campaign thus far.
The truth is though it isn’t the points tally that is the concern in these early stages of the season and instead it is the performances that are causing concern amongst fans. We’ve looked disjointed, tired, uninterested in part and whether it’s caused by tiredness, a lack of match fitness, injuries or dissent behind the scenes (as some would like you to believe!) it all needs to stop immediately if we are to have any chance of trying to get in the top six again this time around and have any chance of taking anything away from what is a notoriously tough ground to visit.
Howay the lads!
Date: Monday, 17th September, 2012
Time: 8pm KO – Live on Sky Sports
Venue: Goodison Park, Merseyside