Until their 2-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion this weekend, Everton were only one of a handful of clubs in the Premier League boasting an unbeaten record this season. The impact of makeshift striker Marouane Fellaini amongst others had guided the team to occupy a Champions League spot, picking up maximum points in their first two games, and manager David Moyes has his sights on a top three position this evening.
Regardless of their blip against West Brom, Everton will hope that tonight’s match against fellow European hopefuls Newcastle will send a message to the teams at the top that they mean business. Similarly however, the Toon will have every intention of disrupting the party with the two set to compete for position all year. Lest not forget, for a long time last season Newcastle were part of a slugfest for fourth place, and will hope to replicate last year’s impressive performances again.
Whilst there may be an established ‘big four’ of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, a number of Premier League outfits will be vying for position to, at the very least, secure a coveted Europa League spot come May. Two big players in this contest look to be Everton and Newcastle, with both teams’ eye-catching seasons last year hoped to be building blocks for an even better season this time around.
In Marouane Fellaini and Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa, both clubs boast players occupying joint third-place in the race for top scorer, and have been ever-present in their respective club’s quest for goals. With Fellaini looking to add to his tally of two in three games, Ben Arfa will also be looking to score Newcastle’s 1,000th Premier League goal to cap off a hopefully memorable result for the away side.
This won’t be easy, however. Everton’s Goodison Park is somewhat a fortress, with David Moyes’ side shipping just five goals and scoring 31 in their last 15 games before tonight’s match, and look to record their sixth successive home win.
With an injury crisis at Newcastle, the Toon will be without Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Danny Simpson, Cheick Tiote and Ryan Taylor, and may well be happy to take a point from the game. With home advantage and a strong starting XI, Everton will go into tonight’s meet with every intention of recording their 13th victory in 16 home games.
High on confidence and full of promise, both teams will be looking to get something from the game, and whilst not ruling out the fact that both teams are more than capable of finishing in the top six, a result either way tonight could help propel one team’s drive even further, whilst putting a serious chink in the other’s armour.
How do you think tonight’s game will go, and do you think either team can finish in the top four ?
image: © mickyb59