The weekend's Premier League action kicks off with out-of-form Newcastle's trip to Goodison Park to take on high-flying Everton.
Newcastle United will be hoping they can avoid stretching their winless run to a dozen games in all competitions this weekend, as they travel to Goodison Park to face Everton on Saturday lunchtime.
It’s been well documented how bad the Magpies have been recently, with their last win coming back in mid-December, when Dwight Gayle’s header earned them a 2-1 win over West Brom at St James’ Park.
Their most recent performance on their own patch was actually a great improvement on some of the football their fans have been served up lately, with a spirited second half performance against Leeds still not enough for them to stop their first point of 2021.
Things are much better at Everton these days, with Carlo Ancelotti’s side mounting a push for the top six this season. The form of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and James Rodriguez has been central to the Toffees’ challenge, and both are set to feature against Newcastle.
Rodriguez scored a stunning effort in the 1-1 draw with Leicester in midweek, his first ever right-footed goal from outside the box in his illustrious career. The Colombian will fancy his chances of more goals against a Newcastle side that haven’t kept a clean sheet since the end of December, when they surprisingly kept Liverpool at bay for 90 minutes.
Ancelotti will welcome back Abdoulaye Doucoure from suspension for the game, after the Frenchman missed the draw with Leicester after picking up five yellow cards before the amnesty deadline, and he could replace Tom Davies in midfield. Brazilian destroyer Allan is still missing through injury though, as is Fabian Delph and Niels Nkounkou, and Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
After his howler on Wednesday night, Ancelotti may also be considering dropping Jordan Pickford to the bench for the visit of the Geordies. The Italian boss has given on-loan Swedish stopper Robin Olsen game time at different stages of the season, and chose him when Everton lost 2-1 at St James’ Park earlier this season. In the past, Pickford has always struggled to keep his emotions in check whenever he plays against Newcastle, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Olsen in goal again.
As for Newcastle, Steve Bruce may be tempted to start Allan Saint-Maximin for the first time since November. The French winger has been building match fitness since recovering from COVID, and has got through 50 minutes of action after two substitute appearances against Aston Villa and Leeds.
Paul Dummett, Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez and DeAndre Yedlin will all miss the game, with Yedlin believed to be close to joining Galatasaray on a permanent deal. Matt Ritchie is in a similar position, as Bournemouth are in talks over taking the winger back to the South Coast.
There’s been no new on-field arrivals for Steve Bruce this month, although the trip to Merseyside will see new coach Graeme Jones in the dugout for the first time. Jones was born in Gateshead and has long wanted to be part of the Newcastle setup, and spent time at Everton earlier in his career, working under Roberto Martinez.
A win for Newcastle is much-needed, as Brighton, Fulham, Burnley, Leeds and even Sheffield United all picked up points in their last games, leaving the gap between the Geordies and the bottom three just six points. With Fulham taking on West Brom on Saturday, things could get uncomfortable if Bruce can’t stop his side’s seventh straight defeat.
Meanwhile, Everton could go fourth in the table with a win, before the rest of the pack chasing Manchester City at the top are in action.
Everton take on Newcastle United on Saturday, January 30th. Kick-off is at 12.30pm.