Everton play their last game of 2014 on Sunday when they face Newcastle at St. James’ Park.
Newcastle V Everton: The Preview
by Eoin Leeson
The Blues go into the game on the back of another embarrassing defeat this time at home to Stoke City.
Bojan’s first half penalty proved to be the difference and although referee Lee Mason had a poor afternoon, our performance was once again horrifically below par.
Moments before James McCarthy tripped Bojan in the Everton box, Leighton Baines was running through on goal until John Walters pulled him back.
Walters was the last man and he denied a clear goal scoring opportunity, two red card offences, but the referee decided to only show the Irishman a yellow card. Considering Stoke scored via another big call from Mason, his failure to send Walters off felt like a game changing decision.
Aside from the refereeing decisions, there is something very wrong with the team at the moment and Roberto Martinez needs to prove he is the great manager we know him to be by turning things around.
He achieved fantastic things in his first season, brought Romelu Lukaku to the club and has done brilliantly so far in Europe; but his biggest challenge as Everton manager to date could be turning around our fortunes in the league.
I still believe he is the man to lead our team. Think what he’s done for the club. Every team has a bad spell. Fans are complaining about it so much because they take our good form for granted and aren’t use to bad spells. Doesn’t that say something about the good work Martinez has done?
Kevin Mirallas missed a sitter but apart from that there was a serious lack of creativity and service to Lukaku who I’m starting to feel sorry for. Our wing play has proved a big asset to us in the past couple of seasons and Roberto not selecting two recognised wingers for matches is proving costly.
We have no shape and our full backs are really struggling with no one to support offensively and defensively.
I don’t know what’s happened to Gareth Barry these past few weeks but Muhamed Besic, McCarthy and Ross Barkley have to be playing ahead of him. Barkley and Besic were so good against QPR while McCarthy is one of, if not our best player.
As successful as Martinez’s style was for us last season and has been in Europe this season, I think it would be good to see him change things up a bit. Our play is so patient, almost lackadaisical at times and I can’t be the only one who thinks it would be good to see us have a real go at teams, get it up the pitch quickly and get Goodison rocking again.
Even without all the analysis, the fact we didn’t score in a home defeat to Stoke City sums up how bad things are in the league.
Four players got injured in Friday’s defeat – Tim Howard (calf), Phil Jagielka (ankle ligaments), Mirallas (ankle) and John Stones (ankle) – and are big doubts for Sunday. Steven Naismith picked up his fifth yellow of the campaign and is now suspended. And yes, that does mean that Joel Robles will start in goal with Antolin Alcaraz and Sylvain Distin in front of him. Dammit Everton.
On a positive note, we only conceded one goal!
Now to Sunday’s opponents Newcastle. They’ve had a roller-coaster of a season so far. A shocking start to the campaign saw calls for manager Alan Pardew’s sacking before they embarked on a 6 game winning streak that restored confidence at the club.
However, as is Newcastle’s way, those 6 wins have been followed by poor performances and a lack of wins. They’ve lost four in a row since beating Chelsea. Every season they have a bad spell followed by a good spell and so on so forth. We face them during one of the bad spells but knowing Everton, Sunday will see Newcastle’s fortunes change for the better once again.
So who do we need to watch out for? Well, Newcastle tend to play in a 4-2-3-1 formation although they did set up with two strikers in their last game, a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United. Moussa Sissoko is the driving force in the team and he along with Papiss Cissé, who has found himself used as an impact sub this season, are the key players we will have to watch.
Jak Alnwick hasn’t proved himself in goal as a replacement for the injured Tim Krul and Rob Elliot while they are frail in defence. If we have our creative game with us we can exploit that weakness like we did in last season’s 3-0 win.
Goals from Barkley, Lukaku and Leon Osman saw us to that away win while in the Goodison fixture, a brace from Lukaku and a goal from Barkley allowed us to claim a 3-2 victory.
We haven’t lost to Newcastle in 5 games so hopefully that doesn’t change come Sunday.
As mentioned above, Naismith is definitely out through suspension while Mirallas, Howard, Jagielka and Stones are major doubts.
Newcastle are missing Krul, Elliot, Rolando Aarons, Gabriel Obertan and Ryan Taylor while Mehdi Abeid and Siem de Jong are doubts. Paul Dummet was substituted in the United loss but should play. Cheick Tiote returns from suspension for the Magpies.
NEWCASTLE LIKELY LINE UP: Alnwick, Janmaat, Taylor, Coloccini, Dummet, Tiote, Colback, Perez, Sissoko, Gouffran, Cissé (4-2-3-1).
EVERTON LIKELY LINE UP: Robles, Coleman, Alcaraz, Distin, Baines, McCarthy, Barkley, McGeady, Pienaar, Eto’o, Lukaku (4-4-1-1).
Both teams are in poor form and will be desperate to finish 2014 with a win. Two teams lacking confidence will probably cancel each other out on Sunday.
PREDICTION: Newcastle 1-1 Everton.