The Boxing Day collapse at Man Utd was so frustrating, with us well and truly shooting ourselves in the food to gift them the win, but that game is gone. It’s all about how we react against Everton back on home soil.
I’d argue that any overreaction to the performance or Bruce’s team selection was uncalled for. We’ve been over performing of late and needed to rotate with 4 games in 14 days, so a result like that had been coming.
Were the mistakes unacceptable? Yes, but all will soon be forgotten if we end 2019 on a high with a win over Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton.
After being totally rested at Old Trafford, it seems almost certain that Jonjo Shelvey, Andy Carroll and Isaac Hayden return to the side.
At full-back, Manquillo sounds like he may be rested after coming away from Manchester with a slight calf complaint. Yedlin and Krafth are fit and waiting in the wings, so it feels likely that the former comes in to replace the in-form Spaniard. Let’s hope he steps up considering how solid has been in recent weeks.
Almiron was taken off at the hour-mark so he should start again, but it feels like Gayle has well and truly blown his chance to stay in Bruce’s starting 11, missing another big opportunity in front of goal.
With that in mind, it seems likely that we’ll see Carroll up top alongside Joelinton (who showed glimpses and bagged an assist at Old Trafford) with Almiron in the free role behind them once again.
Lejeune could be one to watch. We’re likely to be without Dummett and Clark again (and Lascelles is still out), but can he play twice in 48 hours after 8 months out?
Preferred NUFC XI – (5-2-1-2) – Dubravka – Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Lejeune, Willems – Hayden, Shelvey – Almiron – Joelinton, Carroll.
Here’s ‘ones to watch’ in Carlo Ancelotti’s side:
Richarlison – The Brazilian is the blues star man in attack. He’s been involved in 9 goals this season and is a real handful, being tricky but surprisingly good physically for a winger; hence his switch into central areas recently. He and Calvert-Lewin could be a tough physical test for our three centre-backs.
Lucas Digne – Leighton Baines’ long-term replacement and a left-back with a brilliant left food. His deliveries from open play and free-kicks will be on the keep an eye on.
Jordan Pickford – He needs no introduction after his horror show at St James’ Park in our 3-2 win over Everton last time they travelled up to Tyneside. He can pull off brilliant saves and his kicking can be impressive, but he’s error prone and often lets in shots he should save. Hopefully the Mackem gets rattled by the home crowd once again here.
Yeri Mina – Everton’s giant centre-back who’ll give Andy Carroll a run for his money in the air. Surprisingly good on the ball for a player of his size (thank Barcelona for that) and a huge threat from set pieces.
Predicted Everton XI – (4-3-3): Pickford – Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne – Walcott, Davies, Delph, Bernard – Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.
Javier Manquillo could miss out with a slight calf issue, while Paul Dummett and Ciaran Clark look likely to miss out again.
Ki is still suffering with illness and the game will come too soon for Saint-Maximin, Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie.
Shelvey, Carroll and Hayden are all expected to return, with Yedlin also eyeing a recall.
Carlo Ancelotti has hinted he’ll make several in a bid to protect his players just 48 hours on from their 1-0 win over Burnley.
Theo Walcott, Michael Keane, Tom Davies and Leighton Baines have all been tipped to feature, but Alex Iwobi remains out with a hamstring strain.
I really fancied us to sign off 2019 with another big 3 points at home when looking ahead to this fixture a few weeks ago, but Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival is likely to gee up a previously soft and toothless Toffees side.
That said, he hasn’t had much time to work with them, so we might yet be playing them at the perfect time despite his shock arrival.
I don’t see us winning, but we’ve not lost at St James’ Park since the opening day of the season and I back that run to continue here.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Everton