Newcastle United vs Everton

Wednesday, 13 December, 2017 0comments  |  Jump to last
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Michael Keane is fit again but has a fight on his hands to reclaim his place in the team

Everton travel to the northeast for the first of four games in the space of 13 days to take on Newcastle United.

Sam Allardyce and his team take their steadily improving confidence from a four-game unbeaten run to St James's Park looking to build on Sunday's draw in the Merseyside derby and earn what would be the Blues' first away win since January.

Having been forced to defend his tactics against Liverpool in Sunday's Merseyside derby which resulted in his side having just 21% of possession, it will interesting to see how Allardyce sets his team up against Newcastle, a team that has lost their last three home games, haven't won any of the last six, and currently sit just two points above the relegation zone.

Certainly, it will call for a more expansive and attacking style of plan than was in evidence at Anfield but whether he opts for the same formation and strike partnership of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Oumar Niasse remains to be seen. Niasse was withdrawn at half-time in the derby after an anonymous 45 minutes but this is likely to be a very different game.

In terms of his back line, Allardyce, who cancelled the team's Christmas party to keep focus on turning around Everton's poor form this season amid a congested list of fixtures, will again be without Leighton Baines who continues to battle a calf injury and that will see Cuco Martina continue as an emergency left back.

Phil Jagielka is fit again having come on as a late substitute last time out and could replace either Mason Holgate or Ashley Williams but the manager may also feel it would be harsh to drop either of the centre-halves who started the last three League games seeing as it's a partnership that has yielded just one goal in that time.

In midfield, Morgan Schneiderlin made a case for his inclusion with a composed second-half display against Liverpool but while Yannick Bolasie turned out for the Under-23s on Monday evening, James McCarthy was again absent as he struggles to overcome his latest soft-tissue problem.

For Allardyce's former club, defender Jamaal Lascelles is set to return after more than a month out but Paul Dummett remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.

The Magpies are slight favourites with oddsmakers thanks to home advantage but you can always get attractive prices with first scorer and final score combinations.

A win for the Blues would bring them level on points with Watford in ninth place and lift them closer to the top of the pack that has come adrift somewhat from the top seven.

It would also help further the notion in the camp and among supporters that the club is moving in the right direction again and with the right management and recruitment in January, the season could yet be salvaged in terms of a European challenge and a run in the FA Cup.

Kick-off: 7.45pm, Wednesday 13 December, 2017
Referee: Martin Atkinson

Last Time: Newcastle 0 - 1 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Kenny, Jagielka, Williams, Martina, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Lennon, Calvert-Lewin