Alan Pardew and David Moyes hope to start 2013 in better fashion than which they ended 2012 as Newcastle United host Everton at St.James’ Park.
The corresponding game last season came at a time when United were trading blows with the top clubs and Everton were suffering in the lower reaches of the league table. Fast forward just over a year and the roles are reversed as the Toffees are the ones slugging it out in the top 6 while the Magpies struggle at the wrong end of things.
When the two clubs met back in September at Goodison Park, a thrilling encounter ended with honours even after a 2-2 draw. Moyes side, having tormented Newcastle for the opening half, were unable to finish them off and Pardew’s half time team talk galvanised his side to earn themselves an unlikely point.
Newcastle’s record against Everton at St.James’ is good, having only lost there once in the last 10 years, but they go into this one with a lengthy injury list, a defence shipping goals all over the place and a set of players who looked dead on their feet at the end of the 7-3 defeat at Arsenal.
Everton had been enjoying their Christmas schedule following successive 2-1 victories at West Ham and at home to Wigan, but were brought back to earth with a bump by Chelsea in their last match when they yet again failed to put the game beyond their opposition when being the dominant force.
Moyes’ men could have climbed into third place with a win over Chelsea so he will be desperate to get his top 4 challenge back on track.
Pardew will be hoping his starting XI have enough energy and confidence left in them to avoid another morale sapping defeat as they slip ever closer to the relegation zone.
The key to this game could lie with the return of Marouane Fellaini to the Everton side. He has completed his three match suspension after his misdemeanour at Stoke in mid-December, and his physical and technical capabilities will cause Newcastle’s generous defence all sorts of problems if he shows up with his ‘A’ game.
Although the Geordies have been giving goals away like Christmas hadn’t ended, they don’t struggle to get on the score sheet themselves. Demba Ba, whose name is now linked daily to a move away from the North East, continues to shine up front, and with Everton having conceded in 15 consecutive games, he will fancy himself to net again.
This should be an end-to-end thriller with goals aplenty, but with Fellaini back in harness for Everton and Newcastle’s recent defensive frailty showing no signs of abating, David Moyes could get his New Year off to the perfect start.
Prediction: Newcastle United 2-3 Everton
Where To Watch Online: Newcastle United vs. Everton988130