Everton (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted XI’s

Promising takeover developments off the pitch could help create a hopeful atmosphere around the ground tonight, but that can’t take away from the task in hand on the pitch. This ones big.
Results have tended to go our way during our major slump in recent weeks, however that will only last so long. There’ll come a point where we need to start winning again – and it’s now. After sickening late loss to Leicester on Saturday, this one, dare I say, is a bit of a must win to steady the ship.
Ok, so it’s not a ‘must win’ given how long we have left of the season, but with Swansea and Palace getting wins over the past few days (we’re now just two points from the bottom of the league), with Arsenal away to follow on Saturday and with our confidence at St James’ Park becoming worryingly frail, it really is so important on so many fronts.
So that covers the very real concerns which, if you didn’t already know, show we’re in a real dogfight this season and it doesn’t look like being pretty. For that reason, let’s get behind the lads tonight from first minute to last. We aren’t blessed with quality and yes it is frustrating to see misplaced passes, missed chances or mistimed tackles, but these boys do tend to put in a shift for us. They need our support, and as Rafa has drilled into us on several occasions, ‘we are stronger together’.
We’re supporters so lets be supportive. Jeers may be a natural reaction to some who see a bloke earning £40,000 a week struggle to make a simple pass or hit the target, but any hostility or tension created inside that ground only serves to help the opposition and hamper us.
It’ll be tough tonight. Very different to Leicester who had the pace and flair to hurt us on the counter, but Big Sam’s Everton will be solid (they’ve conceded 1 in their last 4) and competitive – two things we haven’t been in recent weeks.
Don’t forget, as much we’re looking over our shoulders following 6 defeats in our last 7, a win tonight could take us up to 12th and it feels imperative that we take advantage of this and get a good result, with all the sides around us playing one of the top 6 tonight (Spurs vs BRIGHTON, Man Utd vs BOURNEMOUTH, Liverpool vs WEST BROM, SWANSEA vs Man City, WEST HAM vs Arsenal).

The Team

Elliot’s return would be wise for me. There can be a distinct edginess to Darlow when the going gets tough and he didn’t fill me with confidence on Saturday. Elliot’s been poor himself lately, but I think his experience and leadership could be beneficial in a game like this.

At centre-back Lascelles must now return. We’ve been woeful in this area in his absence and it’ll be interesting to see who makes way as a result. There’ll be calls for Lejeune to be dropped, who has been caught out several times recently, but I think Clark might make way. He’s looked even more edgy and I think Rafa sees Lascelles and Lejeune as his preferred partnership going forward – being his skipper and summer signing).

Full-backs. Mbemba should come in for Manquillo for me. The latter had the odd burst forward against Leicester but he doesn’t look a natural defender and certainly isn’t a natural left-back. Mbemba isn’t either, and he too was caught out for goals at West Brom and Chelsea, but I feel he’s a better defender and looks more convincing in that role.

On the other side, Yedlin continues to get caught out, but I’m not sure who replaces him. Everton lack pace, so although Yedlin may not need his to recover defensively, his could be used to hurt them at the other end.

Hayden was so poor on Saturday and offered so little. For this reason, Merino and Shelvey must be given a shot in the side. Everton have a hard working and combative central midfield, so don’t be surprised if Rafa goes for something a little more cautious. With Hayden and Diame failing to  impress in recent games, could there even be a case for Saivet’s inclusion?!

Now Atsu’s back, the wide men won’t just pick themselves. On recent performances, you’d have to say Ritchie deserves dropping before Murphy – whose often been our bright spark during this bad run – however I can’t see a player of his experience being axed for a big game like this.

I think he’ll bring Atsu in for Murphy. I don’t see this as Murphy being dropped, but he has played almost all of our games over the last month so may be rested.

A return of 4-2-3-1 is quite possible, with 4-4-2 helping us score a few more but ultimately contributing to us looking far more open and unorganised. Perez could well return.

Gayle has been in great form with 3 in his last 5 and you’d think he’d have to play on recent form, but if we revert to 4-2-3-1 and play one up top his inclusion is debatable. Rafa has nearly always gone for Joselu when we’ve played Perez in support of a sole striker. Maybe Gayle will play with Joselu once again, but we’ll see Gayle in a role just off the front to help protect our midfield?

Personally I’d stick with Gayle and Joselu – who’ve struck up a decent partnership recently – however our midfield and general set up must be much more protective of our leaky looking defence.


The Opposition

Too many times on Saturday we saw the likes of Mahrez running at our defence or in a position to get a shot off within 25 yards from goal. We can’t give that sort of space to the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson or Wayne Rooney, who may not be quick, but know how to curl a ball into the top corner.

Idrissa Gueye is an impressive defensive midfielder and often looks to me like a poor mans Ngolo Kante. He’s not one to worry about, but he’s very good at what he does in front of a defence.

In goal for them, Jordan Pickford is an excellent shot stopper and frighteningly good kicker. I don’t expect them to carry a huge threat on the counter due to their general lack of pace, but expect him to fire some long kicks into the chest of Calvert-Lewin up top. Winning those first and second balls will be key. We may not like to admit it, but the former Sunderland star is probably going to be England’s number one keeper very soon.

CLICK HERE for an inside look at Everton’s strengths and weaknesses, as this week’s ‘Opposition Opinion’ comes from an honest and outspoken Everton fan who happens to be a real good friend of mine. He doesn’t beat around the bush and will be sure to give you an alternative look at our club from the eyes of someone who doesn’t see things through rose tinted glasses.



Newcastle – 16th (15 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 0 / Drawn: 1 / Lost: 4

Everton – 10th – (19 pts) – Last 5 in the league /  Won: 2  / Drawn: 2 / Lost: 1

Team News

Jamaal Lascelles and Christian Atsu were both on the bench for Saturday’s game and could be handed full recalls back into the starting 11.

Paul Dummett played for the U-23’s last week, but Rafa admitted yesterday that he’s still not quite ready – with it also being reported that a bout of illness will see him miss this one.

Centre-backs Michael Keane and Phil Jagielka are fully fit and back in contention after missing the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

SEVEN senior players will be missing for Everton tonight. Big Sam has confirmed club captain Leighton Baines won’t be back in time, whilst Ross Barkley, Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, Ramiro Funes Mori and Maarten Stekelenburg will all be missing once again after long spells on the sidelines.


Predicted Line-ups

Newcastle XI – (4-4-1-1) – Elliot – Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Mbemba – Ritchie, Merino, Shelvey– Ritchie, Perez, Atsu – Gayle

Everton XI – (4-1-4-1) Pickford – Kenny, Keane, Williams,  Martina – Gueye – Lennon, Davies ,Rooney, Sigurdsson – Calvert-Lewin.



Again, it’s not great is it. Four defeats in our last five meetings, with us having scored in just one of our last five games encounters with Everton. That’ll need to change tonight.


Match Prediction

Before the takeover news gave us reason to have a real spring in our step tonight, I was fully expecting a draw here.

I still think that’s a distinct possibility, but I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a great atmosphere tonight and a game where we all pull together to scrape a scruffy three points.

Big Sam’s Everton won’t make it easy, but I don’t think they carry the same speed and uncontainable threats that the likes of Watford and Leicester have posed in recent home defeats.

Give them time and they’ll punish us – they still have the quality – but I think, with the extra days rest and everything at stake, we might just get the big win we need tonight.

Head has been saying 1-1 all week, but I’m going to go with my heart and predict a narrow win, with today’s news  and the return of Lascelles likely to put some fire in the bellies of the 52,000 at St James’ Park tonight. As we’ve seen on so many occasions, that really can be the difference.


PredictionNewcastle 2-1 Everton

Howay the lads!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

43 thoughts on “Everton (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted XI’s

  1. Thanks for the article Olly, I’m with you I think and going for a narrow hard fought win… we really really need to take all 3 points on this one, and the lads could be buoyed by the news on the potential take over.

    I see Rooney scoring so also agree on 2-1 to us … ?

    I see Burnley won again last night and into top 4.. wow! ??


  2. thanks Olly. Fat sam would love to get one over on Rafa and the Toon and then there is Rooney who loves scoring against us.
    Very worried, could the atmosphere go against us, it didn’t really help on Saturday did it.


  3. I would play Manquillo on the left reluctantly, drop Yedlin who has been poor defensively and play Mbemba at right back. If Everton have no fast runners then Shelvey would be ok but I worry about his ability to defend against fast players. Not going to second guess Rafa however because I am sure to get it wrong.


  4. Should be a good atmosphere with the news about the takeover but then again, I suppose it means we will lose…


  5. Stu, nowts confirmed yet though so I remain cautiously optimistic . Let’s see it confirmed then we can be **** a hoop about it. Still time for ash to dash our hopes and be the Grinch who stole Christmas.


  6. Team news is out… Diame starts ?. Joselu on the bench, and Lascelles starts in defence. Shelvey and Merino in the middle.


  7. Mitro not even on the bench. That means he is done at NUFC IMO. So the rumoured 30 mil plus 15 mil for Mitro probably means a minimum of 45 mil to spend? We should be able to get a bit more for fringe players like Colback or maybe even Darlow if Rafa gets a new ‘keeper.


  8. Its about time won a game – and Lascelles being back means he is not going to suffer fools tonight after being forced to watch the shower of sh!! with the rest of us lately.


  9. I have to be honest, I do question Diame selection. Not sure why Clark dropped and not Lejeune and not entirely sure why Hayden dropped ahead of Merino on recent performances – though to be fair it could have been toss of a coin for either. Diame is a strange choice though – score a blinder son and prove me wrong.


  10. Ice, thought he might of gone with Elliot tbh , Darlow tends to get a bit flustered when we are losing I’ve noticed. Mind you Elliot’s not been a lot better.


  11. Well I just knew Rooney would be the one… poor goalkeeping! ??
    Keep playing like we were and we should get something out of this … I hope!


  12. Merino playing much better and cracking strike. Unlucky to hit the post. On another day that would’ve gone in off… better from Ritchie too.


  13. Not getting the rub of the green today like, Ritchie and Merino so close first half , they hardly deserve the lead really. Will be gutted to lose 1 .0 to an error again. Got to stop making silly individual errors .


  14. shamrock:
    Trying to get ate goals against an Allardyce side? Hmm…

    Aye, not gonna happen unless someone let’s fly with a corker.
    Also Baggies and West ham still level in their games


  15. Yeah I think Shelvey leavea a lot to be desired. I said the other day he has been less productive than both Hayden and Merino in all the important areas. His top notch passes are far and few between and in the meantime he is a passenger.

    So…. Our form…..


  16. So Rafa hooked Diame after he misses a sitter ?.

    Also, **** Jonjo Shelvey now for me!!. Get rid coz that lad has used up his last chance and then some for me. Absolute liability and I’m not having he has issues!! – I’ve got issues but nobody is paying me £50k a week to keep letting them down!!!


  17. think we’re defo going down lads

    West ham and west brom both getting a good point against arsenal and pool tonight


  18. it’s upsetting cause first half we were pretty good and with a bit more luck could of had one of them that hit the post go in . Darlows error proved so costly, we keep making stupid mistakes, second half confidence just evaporated. Worrying times .

    Listen if West Ham can contain Arsenal then why can’t we, we have to at least try.


  19. That’s two games in a row Darlo has cost us goals,see why Rafa wanted a new keeper,got a feeling we are going down Ime afraid,nice parting gift from jabba


  20. We will survive with proper winter reinforcement. Any point before winter window opens would be a bonus. The true catch up will be in the 2nd half.


  21. Icedog:
    That’s two games in a row Darlo has cost us goals,see why Rafa wanted a new keeper,got a feeling we are going down Ime afraid,nice parting gift from jabba

    Ice – the kid made a cracking save in the 2nd half to be fair, but yeah, it’s defo and area for improvement.

    GK, CM & CF are the key areas for me.


  22. shamrock:
    I dont know. We are weak all over the pitch and we wont have much to spend. 50 million wont go far.

    I am not talking about big money. We only want to survive this season. 30M plus any funds from selling should be enough. Also Amanda is a smart woman. She won’t let the club drop value significantly at her hands. She may inject more money than the reported 30M if Rafa thinks it is necessary.

    What you are viewing now is the worst part of the season. With Amanda coming in, it will improve. Don’t panic now.


  23. Buying half a new team requires those payers to a) adapt to the league/club and b) click as a unit.

    That’s a big ask when half the season is gone, you are in a dog fight and the games are coming thick and fast.

    The summer was a massively wasted opportunity. We have allowed Palace, who lost their first 8 games – to catch us. That is damning.


  24. We are no better than any PL teams, if not worse. Every team has its low time. Palace had it at the beginning of the season and now it is our turn due to various reasons. We get strengthened during winter window. We will pick up, I believe sooner than later. The difference between this season and the last relegated season is: we still have enough time. Hopefully this is the last relegation fighting season Toon will have in a long long time.


  25. Another factor is squad size. We have to get rid not just to raise funds, but also to create space in the squad for any new arrivals.

    We may be able to shift Mitro and Mbemba – but the likes of Colback and Saviet – we couldn’t shift them in the summer, will someone want them in January?!.


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