The Geordies come into this fixture knowing the lowest they can finish is 5th spot and given the way they have played this season few could argue that they would be deserving of a place in the Champions League. Their season has been built on a solid back 5 including keeper Krul who has kept 15 clean sheets – second only to Joe Hart- in the top flight. Their midfield may not have great depth but its first choice 4 has pretty much everything required. Tiote is one of the best pressers in the top flight and isn’t too shabby on the ball whilst Cabaye has created 55 goal scoring chances over the season which have yielding 6 assists. Ben Arfa has predominantly come in on the right side and makes the 5th most dribbles per game in the top flight leading to a productive 5 goals and 5 assists from just 15 starts. On the other flank, Gutierrez is useful at both ends of the pitch and has a knack of winning useful dead ball situations; with 82 free kicks won he is the top flight’s most fouled player.
Upfront Demba Ba was the leading light early on in the campaign when he plundered 16 goals but he has often found himself shunted towards the left side in recent months due to the arrival of Papiss Cisse. Regular readers will recall EB’s search for a new no9 article over a year ago which highlighted Cisse as someone who could solve our Achilles heal in front of goal and the forward has been exceptional since his arrival with 13 in 12 starts. Prior to last weeks round of matches Cisse had the best touches per goal ratio in the PL this season for players who have played 10+ apps: (Top 5 in full) Papiss Cisse 35.2, Anichebe 36.8, Vellios 37.3, Berbatov 42.2, Jelavic 45.1 (source: Whoscored.com)
2.Last Time out
Newcastle triumphed in the first meeting of the season at St James after a horrendous start from the Blues seen them go 0-2 down and left them too far to swim back from despite Rodwell pulling one back before half time.
We played quite direct on the day with Jags making 24 long passes. To put that into context Colocinni hit 7 and was Newcastle’s biggest user of the long ball. Jags hit a 45% accuracy with these long punts and to be fair some of them were pinged really well – notably putting Saha clear 1 on 1 with Krul however the now departed Frenchman blew his big chance.
Rodwell had one of his better games, finding time and space to link defence to attack pinging 23 passes in the process in the first period, scoring a goal and going close with another header. In the second half though Pardew seemed to instruct his charges to press him more and for his strikers to cut off the angles for Everton’s defenders to feed him (hence more longer passes). They did so superbly. Rodwell was completely anonymous in the second period, making a feeble 7 passes and not getting anywhere near the opposition goal like he had done in the opening spell.
Our creativity and passing incision was good with 60% of our chances coming inside Newcastle’s 18 yard box compared to our host’s 33%. In the end Newcastle’s momentum carried them over the finishing line as our annual dire start to the campaign continued to unfold.
Like Moyes, Pardew is more of a reactive manager with both sides having spent more time off the ball than on it this season (efc average possession 47% nufc average possession 46%). Similarly, both have players who are rapid in counter attack situations to exploit sides playing high up the pitch against them. The side’s respective visits to Swansea in recent months illustrate this well. Both sides averaged possession of just over the 30% marker, but both had a solid enough game plan to win 2-0 with relative ease such was the strength of their game off the ball. The Geordies have mixed things up from their early season flat 4-4-2 and have deployed 4-3-3 at times since the Arsenal defeat to accommodate the impish schemer Ben Arfa.
vs Chelsea (average player positions)
Against Chelsea nufc played a more orthodox 4-4-2 with Cisse (9) and Ba (19) central and Gutierrez (18) and Ben Arfa (10) providing wide support. Like us with Baines, Santon (3) will get forward and provide width whilst Perch (14) balances this by providing defensive balance on the right enabling Ben Arfa to roam. The X shows the area where Santon can often leave open on his forward forays and which Gibson (if fit) will look to exploit by feeding Osman.
vs Wigan (average player positions)
Here they played quite narrow with a 4-3-3 with Cisse (9) Ben Arfa (10) and Ba (19) (blue lines) supported by 3 narrow midfielders in behind. Although Simpson (not Perch) occupied right back he maintains the balance for the Newcastle offensive left by staying back level with his CB’s.
Everton’s major injury dilemma is whether pivotal left back Leighton Baines will recover in time to take his place at left back. If not, Distin will continue here with Jags and Heitinga in the central defensive slots. In midfield, Darren Gibson will hopefully be back and will more than likely line up alongside Cahill in midfield with Fellaini playing in the midfield/forward pivot and Osman/Pienaar in the narrow wide supporting berths to Jelavic. Newcastle’s selection has been fairly constant all campaign and their only regular starter who looks set to miss out is Danny Simpson whose slot will again be filled by James Perch. I’d expect the sides to line up like this…
Everton have won 6 and drawn 1 of their last 7 final home games of the season at Goodison, keeping 4 clean sheets in the process. Moyes record against Pardew at Goodison is decent having won 2 of their 3 meetings. DM also has a decent record against the Geordies at Goodison having lost just once in his 10 years in charge; a 0-1 reverse at L4 last season.
Everton are best priced 13/10 with BlueSquare to win whilst you can get Newcastle at 11/5 with Boylesport. Newcastle start games well and score the bulk of their goals in the first half whilst in contrast we score over 60% of our goals after the interval. Betdaq will give you 29/1 on a Newcastle HT / Everton FT forecast.
Goals would look likely given the prolific forwards both teams have in their ranks. Willie Hills will offer you 9/2 on Jelavic and Cisse to both score at any stage of the game. We have scored 4 in each of our last 2 home games and 55.6% of NUFC’s away games have seen over 2.5 goals with Krul shipping 17 in his last 8 on road. The 2.5+ goals bet can be backed at 3/4 with the same vendor.