Kevin Mirallas is one of four players who picked up knocks against Stoke and are doubts for the Newcastle trip
With their form testing the bounds of crisis, Everton face consecutive away matches that will put Roberto Martinez and his players to a severe test as they struggle to salvage their Premier League campaign at the halfway point.
With the Boxing Day defeat against Stoke deepening the gloom at Goodison and throwing up more questions than answers, the Blues first travel to St James's Park, the scene of one of Martinez's greatest triumphs. Epitomising the Catalan's Sin Miedo ethos and the masterful counter-attacking strategy that served his side so well at times last season, Everton demolished the Barcodes 3-0 on their own turf.
That performance and the Ross Barkley goal that lit it up seem a world away from the crippled confidence and blunted attack currently plagueing the Toffees and there is no question that Martinez needs to find a cure for the malaise in short order.
He admitted as much after the Stoke loss, suggesting that Everton are at a "pivotal moment" in their season but his erring on the side of blaming ill-fortune and poor officiating in that game rather than getting to the root of deeper-lying issues is leaving many supporters craving more of a reaction and more fire from the manager.
Martinez's quest for a first away win in the Premier League since late September has been made harder by injuries to Tim Howard, captain Phil Jagielka, John Stones and Kevin Mirallas, with the first two the least likely to be involved against Newcastle after being withdrawn at half time on Friday. Stones suffered a knock to the same ankle that had kept him out for three months prior to the Stoke game and Mirallas went down again after Charlie Adam raked his studs down his heel; both will be assessed before the team is named.
Steven Naismith, meanwhile, is suspended, after picking up a fifth booking, forcing at least one change in attack where Barkley could be re-deployed in his preferred central role. Whether Martinez feels the need for further personnel changes remains to be seen but the likes of Steven Pienaar, Aiden McGeady and Arouna Kone are all waiting in the wings should he be moved to do so.
Newcastle, who have lapsed back into their own run of bad results after putting together an impressive run that had them briefly in the top four, will be missing Tim Krul and Rob Eiliott, and have doubts over Mehdi Abeid and Siem de Jong. Cheick Tiote is available again, though, after serving his own ban.
Given the talent that exists in the Blues' squad, the "R" word should be unthinkable — and remains an unlikely threat — but in order to avoid getting dragged into an unwanted fight that no one ever foresaw as possible at the start of the season, Everton are going to need to find a way of winning, particularly when they're not expected to.
That same talent in the team should be enough to beat a faltering Newcastle under Alan Pardew's erratic leadership if Martinez can find the motivation in his players and the spark in his own management to pull out a result. The evidence of the past week suggests it will be a tall order but it's soon going to be now or never. A pivotal moment, indeed.
Referee: Craig Pawson
Kick off: 4.15pm
Full coverage: ToffeeWeb Match Reports
Reader Comments (67)
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1 Posted 28/12/2014 at 06:46:20
WhatÂs Pawson like as ref?
2 Posted 28/12/2014 at 07:00:55
WhatÂs even more absurd is talk of a relegation fight. We wonÂt be in a relegation battle.
Things are pretty shit at the moment no doubt. But sackings and relegation? No.
Tomorrow scares the life out of me because if we lose the knives will come out in full force.
Please, please go straight at them and donÂt fucking willy around Everton.
I donÂt have a lot of confidence in tomorrowÂs game. Frightening because the atmosphere and mood will be toxic if we lose.
3 Posted 28/12/2014 at 07:07:50
Give us some festive cheer Roberto. COYB!!!!!
4 Posted 28/12/2014 at 07:20:12
5 Posted 28/12/2014 at 07:42:17
Passion passion passion passion!!
ThatÂs the minimum requirements out there today.
DonÂt spoil the fanÂs long arduous trip like the one endured at Southampton.
Martinez..you have got to get them whipped up for this today, there has been way too many meek surrender jobs this season, the last two lacked so much fight and charge it was a major worry, even in the dying embers of Boxing Day, where was the cavalry charge to try and stop Stoke winning at Goodison??
I donÂt want Martinez sacked but IÂm afraid only the upcoming month of football results are going to evidently decide whether he is going to be under intolerable pressure..
I donÂt want him to go yet but as many people have pointed out, thereÂs only so much dross you can put up with..
If you canÂt motivate the players, and letÂs be honest, we know this current crop canÂt motivate themselves, spineless and frankly characterless, then Martinez may well feel himself like he wants to leave.
At the moment though Bobby, you need to get this fucking bunch playing with a bit of fire in their bellies, dig in to get some wins then we can start worrying more about the style afterwards, I think most Everton fans just want to see some "productive" football to win games rather than seeing our defence passing it amongst themselves.
8 Posted 28/12/2014 at 08:23:41
9 Posted 28/12/2014 at 08:51:56
TodayÂs game sees us depleted in terms of injury and suspensions, so it will either be a chance for the peripheral players to step up and play well, or suffer another defeat. The latter would dent confidence even more than it is at present.
I know Tim has made some howlers this season, but the very thought of El Teflon playing the whole game, does not bode well. Just hope (as every week) they prove us wrong, somehow I canÂt see it, although Newcastle are going through a sticky patch too.
10 Posted 28/12/2014 at 09:29:29
I really hope he goes back to getting the fundamentals right because I believe there is more than enough talent in the team to beat almost all the teams in the league, and more than enough to make life difficult for Newcastle this afternoon. It really is ridiculous that it is us worrying about other teams this seasons rather than getting our football right and them worrying about us.
11 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:02:25
My biggest worry today though has to be that they have cheick tiote back in their side and to me he seems to have more fight in his belly than the whole of our team put together and on paper this looks like it is going to be a battle.
CÂmon blues give us some much needed and overdue festive cheer please !!!
12 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:08:08
Then more rumours will appear regarding RMÂs future.
I hope that I am completely wrong and things start to improve.
Unfortunately I havenÂt seen one sign of improvement in our performances in fact they seem to be getting progressively worse with each game.
13 Posted 28/12/2014 at 09:38:48
Enough of the passing it in front of teams and not creating anything, put the two wrecking balls up top and play into them get some decent crosses in and score some goals!!!
15 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:15:11
I donÂt believe we will get near relegation, but we have to accept other teamsÂ squads have caught up due to a mix of playing the transfer market better and the age to our own players - and that RM doesnÂt play in a way that gets the most out of Baines and Coleman.
Win or lose, itÂll be a tasty encounter today.
16 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:19:05
18 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:24:30
IÂm hoping he finds a place for Besic, & the team give the travelling fans, a performance, to be proud of.after such a long journey.
19 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:36:55
20 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:39:31
I will be standing tall and proud as the sole Evertonian visiting a house full of man u. supporters. If only the team could match that attitude. Draws are no good, a win is the only option today. COYB.
21 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:49:48
22 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:45:22
23 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:49:35
24 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:46:34
We know how charitable we always seem to be when we come across teams in shit form (Southampton just recently), or players who ainÂt scored for ages (Zamora netted his first of the season against us a few weeks ago).
With our stubborn manager, injuries, poor form and NewcastleÂs shit form, IÂm expecting the worst today.
25 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:48:38
And based on this season, I donÂt agree that we ÂshouldÂ beat Newcastle away or ÂshouldÂ avoid relegation.
27 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:54:44
29 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:58:04
30 Posted 28/12/2014 at 11:10:48
ItÂs a really disappointing season. Manager (and players) have let us down.
ItÂs a shame that RM is beginning to a give both positive mental attitude and the passing game a bad name.
His team selections have been poor and his formations and substitutions likewise. Kenwright needs to ask pertinent questions, including why players are consistently (and quite gratuitously) being played out of position and brought back much too soon after injury.
A draw is the very best we can hope for, I fear - I hope IÂm wrong.
31 Posted 28/12/2014 at 11:18:19
32 Posted 28/12/2014 at 11:19:36
I would be going: Robles, stones, alcaraz, Barry, Coleman and Baines as wing backs. Besic, McCarthy and Barkley in midfield with Mirallas and Lukaku up front.
Although players like Naismith have done a good job this season, it is imperative that the attacking side of this team is built around Barkley and Lukaku. These are our best players. If you spend 30m on a striker, then you simply have to set your team up to play to his strengths, regardless of other players.
33 Posted 28/12/2014 at 11:28:47
34 Posted 28/12/2014 at 11:31:37
35 Posted 28/12/2014 at 11:29:11
The manager has to make do with the squad thatÂs fit or not suspended, I donÂt see any AqueroÂs, Van PersieÂs etc on our bench that he can call on.
We need to get behind the team, IÂm sure the manager and players are
well aware now of whatÂs going wrong, and need all the support they can get especially at home to put it right, we donÂt want to make them dreading playing at Goodison.
36 Posted 28/12/2014 at 11:35:07
No faith in this team or manager at all.
37 Posted 28/12/2014 at 11:46:09
Change it up Bobby.
38 Posted 28/12/2014 at 11:41:56
We are much stronger on paper than Newcastle and they are one of the few teams playing worse than us. We may have a reserve goalkeeper today but theirs is only just out of nappies.
I think the world of Barkley but he and a few others including Coleman and Lukaku have got to get stuck in today.
39 Posted 28/12/2014 at 12:02:45
Tiote is a red card waiting to happen and Mo likes a tackle, so IÂm looking forward to that one if it happens.
My fear is, if we concede early then it will be a mauling as our confidence is so fragile at present.
40 Posted 28/12/2014 at 12:12:23
41 Posted 28/12/2014 at 12:13:46
42 Posted 28/12/2014 at 12:14:53
43 Posted 28/12/2014 at 10:29:14
Stop playing the sideways passing tactics until the opponents have organised their defence and then try to get through it. Only Messi, Maradonna class can play and win that type of football. Stop the bad defending. Stop crosses, Baines and Coleman weak at Southampton. Clear corners, Lukaku and central defenders weak at Southampton. DonÂt play to LukakuÂs feet when back to goal, he canÂt keep it. Use EtoÂo for this. I think Baines should be dropped today.
The pass sidewaws football has to have a goal threat or its just play to lose. So...
Everton need to play around defences so always look to bring attacking full backs and wingers into play who can play a good pass and cross into the box. The Mirallas/Lukaku goal against Newcastle last season. Baines/EtoÂo against Burnley this season. Coleman/Mirallas, ManU last season, Oveido/Naismith Norwich at home.
Everton need to be a shooting within range much more. EtoÂo at Burnley, Barkley against QPR.
Everton need to be good at taking corners. Garbutt at Wolfsburg. and converting them, Jagielka.
Everton need to be good at free kicks. Barkley/Mirallas.
Everton need to play at speed on the breakaway. Lukaku/Mirallas at Wolfsburg. Barkley away at Newcastle last season.
Barkley is a fantastic attacking weapon. He can run from deep with the ball. Barkley/Lukaku away at Arsenal last season. He should have plenty options to play angled through balls into the box. This is how you get the goal threat from Lukaku,Barkley/Naismith ,Man C at home last season. He can shoot, Man C at home last season. He can take a ball into the penalty area and score himself, Newcastle at home last season.
Everton need an intensity too win the ball back from back to front. Mcarthy at Man U last season.
My team for today is:
45 Posted 28/12/2014 at 12:19:01
Your not counting COYB as a comment are you?
46 Posted 28/12/2014 at 12:24:16
47 Posted 28/12/2014 at 12:25:43
Personally, IÂm much more interested in Everton and fellow postersÂ views than in dissing others on here.
Over and out (to you).
48 Posted 28/12/2014 at 12:34:46
Lets leave it at that.
50 Posted 28/12/2014 at 12:43:31
IÂd nominate Jim Bennings as first choice, he comes across as a really passionate Blue,or maybe Sean (fuck off)Kelly heÂd really wind them up and get going, they would be frightened to come back in the dressing room if they performed like they have for a lot of this season.
51 Posted 28/12/2014 at 12:51:56
I wish people would stop posting ÂCOYBÂ at the end of their posts! ItÂs so cheesy and annoying.
53 Posted 28/12/2014 at 12:41:56
If we persist with the ticky tacky stuff, itÂs probably gonna end goal less. I just hope Joel stands up and takes his chance. Hoping for a 1-0 and strong defensive display.
54 Posted 28/12/2014 at 13:12:53
55 Posted 28/12/2014 at 13:27:17
56 Posted 28/12/2014 at 13:28:48
Distin Alcaraz Barry
Coleman Besic Barkley McCarthy Garbutt
I really think Lukaku will benefit from having a strike partner like Kone alongside him.
57 Posted 28/12/2014 at 13:40:28
58 Posted 28/12/2014 at 13:49:18
59 Posted 28/12/2014 at 13:39:35
Good points. But donÂt you think the key one is that, when you create chances, score them!
Mirallas and Barry both missed sitters. Martinez is not wrong (penalty denied, the ref bottling it on a clear red card decision, goal effort kicked off the line, Charlie Adam... well... just being Charlie Adam).
The reality is that we should have stuck the ball in the net at least twice.
60 Posted 28/12/2014 at 13:45:18
The state weÂre in at the moment, IÂd take a draw willingly, because confidence must be very low + our injuries and illness. IÂd be ecstatic if we win, away games are always difficult Â– it doesnÂt matter who your playing.
It would also be nice to get a decision or two for a change, although we canÂt even get them at Goodison now!
62 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:08:23
63 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:18:20
Interesting to hear Mark Bright on 909 talk about Palace. He was saying how Palace always had a great atmosphere and the fans always got behind the team no matter what. Then v Southampton the crowd was very quiet all game with a rather resigned feeling of defeat, sound familiar?
I am very much behind Roberto but thatÂs what Goodison has been like on my last few visits.
65 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:11:34
I donÂt just mean we need a good midfielder Â– I mean a real top quality one... Now, whether we could afford him or find him is open to serious doubt!
66 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:26:17
Hibbert, Stones, Alcaraz, Baines
Coleman, McCarthy, Barkley, Mirallas
We need to defend well.
67 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:20:50
Coleman Stones Alcaraz Garbutt
McGeady Barkley Mirallas
Needs a shake up
69 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:33:35
With 28 goals conceded (the 4th worst defensive record in the league), and 13 conceded at home (the joint worst record), itÂs plainly obvious where the problem is: CB and/or GK.
We need a CB like John Terry who can win headers so we can defend our 6-yard box since we have a GK who refuses to come off his line. The main reason we are in 12th is simple, we cannot defend.
70 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:38:39
71 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:45:59
72 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:50:24
73 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:52:19
74 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:55:58
75 Posted 28/12/2014 at 14:57:10
- players picked only if form dictates (with a chance to others not yet having being given their chance);
- players picked in positions that suit (them not RM);
- tactics which involve pressing the opposition high up the pitch when they have the ball; and getting up quick from our back third to our top third; our two up front (yes) being able to play facing the goal with balls coming in from wide;
- passion (including you, Ross - donÂt just stop when youÂve lost the ball);
- above all - LET THEM PLAY INTUITIVELY.
76 Posted 28/12/2014 at 15:04:13
77 Posted 28/12/2014 at 15:10:38
79 Posted 28/12/2014 at 15:11:11
IÂm thinking more along the lines of a Mata, Silva type of player, although IÂm aware we couldnÂt afford anyone of quite that class.
81 Posted 28/12/2014 at 15:34:53
Everton substitutes: Griffiths, Oviedo, Lukaku, Mirallas, Besic, Barkley, Browning.
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