The FourFourTwo Preview: Everton vs Newcastle
The Premier League's last unbeaten team against the league's most unpredictable.
- Fulham 2-1 Everton (LC)
- West Ham 2-3 Everton (Prem)
- Everton 1-0 Chelsea (Prem)
- Cardiff 0-0 Everton (Prem)
- Everton 2-1 Stevenage (LC)
- Newcastle 2-0 Leeds (LC)
- Newcastle 2-3 Hull (Prem)
- Aston Villa 1-2 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 1-0 Fulham (Prem)
- Morecambe 0-2 Newcastle (LC)
Liverpool's surprise loss against Southampton last weekend means their Merseyside chums Everton are now the only team yet to experience the bitter pain of league defeat this season. It's an impressive feat during an early period of transtion for the Toffees, but, that said, it was tempered this week by Martinez's first loss, 2-1 in the Capital One Cup to Fulham.
Still, the signs for Everton remain encouraging. They've kept the ball better than any other Premier League side this season (averaging only 1% less possession than Real Madrid), have won seven of their last eight home games and have Leighton Baines - that magnificent old mucker who continues to work weekly wonders and must surely now be considered one of the league's best players - at least for consistency.
Newcastle, meanwhile, are still reeling from losing at home to newly-promoted Hull last weekend. The Magpies offered their fans some consolation, beating Leeds 2-0 in cup action, but a topsy-turvy start to the campaign leaves them nestled just below mid-table in 12th. "I am still livid about that result," raged Pardew about losing 3-2 to Steve Bruce and his Tigers, and his team will be eager to bite back in front of Sky's cameras on Monday.
Both managers used the cup in midweek to rotate, Pardew offering two of Newcastle's exciting youngsters (Sammy Ameobi and Paul Dummett) a starting berth, while Martinez took the opportunity to rest Baines, Ross Barkley, Tim Howard and Gareth Barry among others.
On the injury front both have concerns. Steven Pienaar, Antolin Alcaraz, Arouna Kone and Leon Osman could miss out for Everton; Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez, Massadio Haidara and Shola Ameobi are doubts for Newcastle. The two Taylors, Steven and Ryan, miss out.
Key battle: Leighton Baines v Hatem Ben Arfa
It's the battle of Everton and Newcastle's top scorers this weekend as Leighton Baines and Hatem Ben Arfa prepare to waltz up and down Goodison Park's left flank like old timers at an evening ball.
After his two-goal heroics at Upton Park last weekend, Baines is becoming a hero as much for his scoring antics as his defensive diligence. But the latter qualities shouldn't be forgotten. Baines was strong in the tackle last weekend, winning five of six duels, and will have to check his marauding forward runs knowing the wily Frenchman will be a major threat in behind him should Newcastle break.
Ben Arfa wasn't his usual productive self in the defeat to Hull but still completed more attacking third passes than any other player on the field. With two goals to his name, level with Loic Remy, Ben Arfa is a key player for the Toon Army and an exceptional dribbler when suitably inspired. Given Everton focus their attacking play down the left hand side more than any other team in the league, there's a definite sense that the key to this match will be whoever wins this intriguing Anglo-French duel.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Newcastle 1-2 Everton (Prem, Jan 13)
- Everton 2-2 Newcastle (Prem, Sep 12)
- Everton 3-1 Newcastle (Prem, May 12)
- Newcastle 2-1 Everton (Prem, Nov 11)
- Newcastle 1-2 Everton (Prem, Mar 11)
Roberto Martinez vs Alan Pardew. The managers have met five times previously and Pardew has the upper hand with three wins. The pair had a high-profile falling out last season over 'Haidara's Smashed Leg-Gate' while Martinez was at Wigan, but having moved onto pastures new all should be forgotten here. Cuddles all round.
Facts and figures
- Gareth Barry could become the 10th player to make 500 Premier League appearances in this game.
- Newcastle have conceded more headed goals than any other team this season (3) in the Premier League.
- Everton have lost just one of their last 10 Premier League home games against Newcastle (W6 D3).
- Last weekend Leighton Baines became only the fifth player since 2006/07 to score two direct free-kicks in a Premier League game (after Rooney, Ronaldo, Drogba and Larsson).
- Baines has now scored 21 Premier League goals. Since he made his league debut on August 14, 2005, only one defender (John Terry - 22) has scored more.
- There has only been one goal scored in the 180 minutes of Premier League action at Goodison Park this season.
- Ross Barkley has been booked in three of his last four Premier League appearances.
- Everton have averaged the highest possession figure in the Premier League this season (59.4%).
- Romelu Lukaku has scored four goals in his last four Premier League appearances.
- Only once in the Premier League era have Everton been unbeaten after six games (2006/07, W3 D3). The occasion before that was their last top-flight title season (1986/87, also W3 D3).
Newcastle are not to be underestimated but they'll find it tough going against an Everton team on the up. 2-1.