- Everton currently 12th in the PL (28 points)
- Newcastle a worrying low 18th (21)
- Everton 17th in home form; Newcastle 18th away
- First meeting (Boxing Day): Newcastle 0-1 Everton
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Wednesday’s clash between Everton and Newcastle United (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET, on Live Extra) seems a safe bet to feature goals, goals and more goals, as two with a pair of of the Premier League’s worst defensive records face off at Goodison Park.
Few teams in the PL possess worse defenses than Newcastle (just two, to be exact), who have conceded 41 times on the season, and Everton (five), whose 34-in-23 games record actually looks stellar in comparison. Their defensive frailties have been the cause for nearly all of Everton’s problems this season, as Roberto Martinez, now in his third year in charge, has yet to address his own Toffees side’s porousness at the back (Everton conceded 50 goals last season – one away from being well into the bottom half of the league defensively). On the bright side, Romelu Lukaku finally looks like a $40-million player, having scored 15 goals in 23 league games this season, though the goals have dried up of late (zero in his last three appearances).
While the Magpies have been shambolic in defense, they’ve been equally inept in attack, having scored just 25 goals in 23 games (15th-most in the PL) this season. In response, first-year manager Steve McClaren was allowed to splash a little cash during the recently completed January transfer window, when he snapped up Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend for a combined $35 million and brought in Ivorian striker Seydou Doumbia on loan from Roma for the rest of the season. On paper, Newcastle are much better during the final 15 games of the regular season and should avoid relegation with ease. This is Newcastle, though, remember.
On the injury front, Everton will be without midfielders Kevin Mirallas (knee) and Muhamed Besic (lower body), while goalkeeper Tim Howard will undergo a fitness test to determine his status. For Newcastle, the injury list is a mile long and much simpler to have a look for yourself.
What they’re saying
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: “We’ve got three important league games in a short period of time and it’s true our points return at home hasn’t been good enough. We have conceded too many goals at home compared to our away performances and we know our fans deserve better and deserve more from us. That’s where we want to work and where we rely on our fans – we can correct that. We’re facing the opportunity of fighting for a lot of points – seven home games offers 21 points at Goodison.”
Newcastle manager Steve McClaren: “We’ve kept very quiet about our business and gone about it very quietly, but we have recruited very good players, and it is a statement of intent on what we want to do. We go forward now with some very good players and a good squad. With these new players coming in, it ups the level in training, and we’ve noticed that. There’s been a spring in the step.”
While Everton haven’t been great at home, Newcastle have managed to be even worse away from home this season. A total inability to find and hold any semblance of defensive shape on the road, combined with the fluidity Everton possess going forward, is a disastrous combination for Newcastle. Everton 3-1 Newcastle.