What: English Premier League
Who: Everton vs Newcastle
When: Monday 17th September, 2012, at 20:00 UK Time
Where: Goodison Park, Liverpool, England
Unfamiliar Territory for Everton
Everton have begun the season unusually well. David Moyes’ team are not supposed to pick up form until January usually, but impressive wins over Manchester United and Aston Villa handed the Toffees a perfect start to the campaign. Defeat to West Brom then brought them back down to earth.
Now, Newcastle United at home will be an intriguing test of Everton’s character at this early stage. These are the kinds of games the Merseyside giants will need to win if they are to harbour hopes of a European finish at the end of the season, with the Magpies key rivals.
With the creativity of Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman behind Nikica Jelavic, Everton have goals in them for once. In recent years the Toffees have been excellent in the first two thirds of the pitch and impotent too often in the final third. But with Jelavic they now have a genuine goalscorer who can finish off their good approach play. New arrival Kevin Mirallas is another useful signing up front and the skilful striker is also a lethal finisher when at his sharpest. This could be his first opportunity to show the Everton fans what he is capable of and the Belgian may just be about to become a new Goodison hero.
Slow Start for Newcastle
Alan Pardew’s side seemed to have picked up where they left off when they beat Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the season, but they have been surprisingly lacklustre in their last two games. Newcastle went down to a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea with a surprisingly meek performance and showed none of the usual fight and fire against Aston Villa in their last match.
If Newcastle find the net, it will be their 1000th goal in the Premier League, and given their history the chances are the goal will come from a number 9 finding the net when that happens. But a trip to Everton and Goodison Park is not the ideal place to get any team’s form back on track and so Pardew will hope that the international break has been able to refresh some of his charges.
He may be concerned by the journeys some have had to make, particularly Argentine pair Jonas Gutierrez and Fabricio Coloccini, the latter who has returned from international duty with an injury. Meanwhile, strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse have been in action in the big African Cup of Nations qualifier between Senegal and the Ivory Coast. With Tim Krul also returning injured from duty with the Netherlands, Pardew is seeing his resources stretched. One of the big questions about his team is how they can cope, given that last year they did not have such a long injury list. This fixture will reveal much about the year lying ahead for Newcastle.
Aston Villa 1-3 Everton (25/08; Premier League)
Everton 5-0 Leyton Orient (29/08; League Cup)
West Brom 2-0 Everton (01/09; Premier League)
Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle (25/08; Premier League)
Newcastle 1-0 Atromitos (30/08; Europa League)
Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa (02/09; Premier League)
Everton: Steven Pienaar (doubt); Darron Gibson; Ross Barkley
Newcastle United: James Perch (doubt); Fabricio Collocini (doubts); Cheick Tiote; Danny Simpson; Ryan Taylor; Tim Krul; Shola Ameobi
Players to watch
Everton – Steven Pienaar: The South African looks like the Pienaar of old since his return from Tottenham, on loan initially last season. There is a slight doubt over his fitness for this game, but if he plays Pienaar could be Everton’s key man. He is the player the Toffees will look to get the ball to when they are on top and the onus will be on him to create. With crucial players missing from the Newcastle defence, this could be the ideal game for the midfielder’s talents and passing ability to shine through.
Newcastle – Hatem Ben Arfa: If, as expected, Tiote does not make this clash, it is hard to see Newcastle dominating this game. Therefore, the onus will be on the brilliant Frenchman Ben Arfa when they do get the ball, to do something with it. He has been arguably his team’s best player so far this season, the one who has really carried on his form from last year. Against a team as difficult to break down as Everton, the ability to take on a man and beat him will be pivotal, as will Ben Arfa’s ability to create something seemingly from nothing. Particularly if Cisse and Ba’s barren run continues.
Everton will look to press Newcastle from the start and dominate territory. Pardew’s side tend to be effective counter attackers who are happy to sit back and hit opponents with their pace and have plenty of physicality about them as well. But without Tiote, Everton may be able to impose themselves on Newcastle in midfield, with Marouane Fellaini likely to inflict some havoc in Tiote’s absence.
But Everton will have to be wary of Hatem Ben Arfa, so effective so far this season and one of the most impressive performers in the Premier League. Papiss Cisse has yet to score in the league, but it surely will not be long until that run is broken, while Yohan Cabaye’s passing will also be a threat to the home side on the break.
However, Everton have a strong defence which can hold Newcastle off. They will not give Cisse or Demba Ba the space they will look for to make chances and are adept with the ball going forward too. So with few injuries and strikers who look like they can find the net, Everton may have the edge over Newcastle here. Everton 2-1 Newcastle.
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