Newcastle United are set to take on a red hot Everton side as the January window ends, and every match for Newcastle becomes that more important. Newcastle have sleep-walked into a relegation scrap after picking up 2 points from a possible 27 points in what is statistically one of the worst runs of form in Premier League history for the club.
Everton enter this match looking the best they have looked in recent history. This Everton side is really good and have finally put everything together under Ancelotti. James Rodriguez has been outstanding for them this season, Dominic Calvert-Lewin continues to be one of the best young forwards in the league, and it seems as if this team as a whole is playing to its potential.
For Newcastle this is a match where they absolutely have to pick up a result. 2 points from a possible 30 is relegation form, and it already appears as if Steve Bruce’s leash has gotten shorter with the arrival of an experienced assistant in Graeme Jones. The hope is that Jones brings some sort of tactical awareness to a staff that, by all means, is not tactically savvy. If Jones can do simple things like assisting Bruce in picking a proper formation or giving the players some basic instruction, there is an outside chance Newcastle can turn things around. If Bruce continues to lose, however, Graeme Jones likely will have a much bigger mess on his plate as he now would be solely responsible for Newcastle’s survival.
Everton are reaching a crucial point this season where they need to prove to themselves and the rest of the Premier League that they are for real. In years past they have had similar runs where they find themselves flirting with the top 4, only to find themselves dropping points to mid table sides. This is a must-win for them to nip that possibility in the bud. A win against Newcastle especially after dropping points to Leicester should be the expectation for Ancelotti’s side.
Last 5 Matches
Newcastle 1-2 Leeds
Aston Villa 2-0 Newcast;e
Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle (FA Cup)
Sheffield United 1-0 Newcastle
Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle
Everton 1-1 Leicester
Everton 3-0 Sheffield Wednesday (FA Cup)
Wolves 1-2 Everton
Everton 2-1 Rotherham (FA Cup)
Everton 0-1 West Ham
Newcastle will be without DeAndre Yedlin who still is out with a visa issue and might be moving to Turkey soon. Additionally, Federico Fernandez, Paul Dummett, and Ciaran Clark are all out injured. On a positive note, Allan Saint-Maximin should be fit enough to start, and Ryan Fraser also can likely go a full 90.
For Everton, Abdoulaye Doucoure returns after serving a one-match suspension while Fabian Delph, Allan, and Jean-Phillipe Gbamin are all out with injury.
With Bruce being on the hot seat, his best bet at this point is to play his best attacking players in a formation that suits them the best. Bruce could go with some version of a 4 in the back formation that sees Miguel Almiron in his preferred central role, while Fraser and ASM occupy space on the wing. Given that there is no actual offensive strategy this at least puts players in positions they are comfortable in. Callum Wilson should of course start, and maybe it is time for Martin Dubravka to start in goal. Darlow has not been bad, but he certainly has not been good enough to be undroppable.
Everton could rotate slightly here and rest some key players like Gomes, Mina or Richarlison. Ancelotti hinted at the fact that he has players on a rotation schedule in his pre-match presser and even said Jordan Pickford could be rested in this Newcastle match. It is of course worth noting Pickford was rested against Newcastle in the reverse fixture after Pickford had a somewhat disappointing outing against Southampton.
Newcastle Projected XI (4-2-3-1): Dubravka; Lewis, Lascelles, Schar, Manquillo; Hayden, Shelvey; Saint-Maximin, Almirón, Fraser; Wilson
Everton Projected XI (4-2-3-1): Olsen, Holgate, Godfrey, Keane, Digne, Davies, Doucoure, Iwobi, Rodriguez, Bernard, Calvert-Lewin
Newcastle vs. Everton has been a weird one the past couple of seasons. Newcastle have been extremely fortunate when playing Everton and have surprisingly picked up results when playing them. With Pickford out, unfortunately, Newcastle don’t have a free goal due to a Pickford error but I could see them scoring in this one. Overall, I find it hard for a team as undisciplined in defense as Newcastle to not give up goals to a very good Everton side and I think this one ends 3-1 in favor of Everton.
However, don’t be surprised if Newcastle sneak away with a draw. If there is any team that could revive Newcastle’s faith it is Everton. For some reason Everton have struggled to truly put away Newcastle as of recent, so this is as good of a time as ever to turn the season around.