It’s another game and another ‘big test’ for the Magpies according to anyone and everyone who believe the fixture list has been fortunate to the Geordies. Alan Pardew’s side continue to confound their critics with team spirit and a disciplined approach on the field putting the club back into the headlines for all the right reasons. They haven’t tasted defeat in the league since they were beaten 3-0 by Liverpool in May with that run propelling them up to third in the table. Pardew’s men have yet to fully win over the press with each game being billed as ‘their next big test’ with the notion that they are only sitting so high because they haven’t played any of the so called ‘big teams’ yet. It’s wrong to say that the Magpies don’t merit their position as they had played five of last season’s top 10 prior to Monday night’s win over FA Cup finalist’s Stoke City. No team had came away victorious from the Britannia Stadium during the current campaign with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea both unable to break the Potters home resolve. Bodies were put on the line and work rate was the ultimate winner as tore a page straight from the Stoke textbook with Argentinian pair Fabricio Coloccini and Jonas Gutierrez both putting in commanding displays. Finding the net hasn’t been an issue either with Demba Ba, who was turned down by the Potters in January, scoring his second hat trick of the season to move onto eight goals in five games and prove that their is life after Andy Carroll. If they avoid defeat on Saturday they will be the first time they’ve gone unbeaten in their opening 11 league games since 1994/95. Pardew may have to make some minor tweaks to his side with Cheick Tiote still struggling with a knee injury whilst winger Gabriel Obertan is out for a month with a toe infection.
That’s a run Toffee’s boss David Moyes will be hoping to bring to an abrupt end as they look to bounce back from a the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United last week at Goodison Park. For all the effort put in against the Red Devils they have a real problem converting chances to goals with the lack of a recognised striker hindering their chances and both Louis Saha and Tim Cahill out of form. Interestingly enough Ba was target for Moyes before he moved to England and you could say it’s now a case of what might have been. The Senegal striker has scored two less than Everton have managed to muster all season long and their plight is highlighted by the fact their goals have come from eight different scorers. With no money to spend in the transfer window Moyes has had to rely on loans and free transfers to replace captain Mikel Arteta. One temporary signing that has lifted spirits is Royston Drenthe with the Dutchman’s pace and skill in the final third giving the Toffee’s an extra edge whilst Marouane Fellaini is rediscovering his form. Unfortunately it’s not been enough and with five defeats in their last six they make the trip to Tyneside with confidence low and rapidly receding. Matching last season’s 2-1 win in the North East will be a tough task especially with Cahill, Phil Neville and former Magpie Sylvain Distin all doubtful.
Demba Ba – For a free transfer and a striker with a history of knee problems Ba has been a revelation since his move to Newcastle. Eight goals in five games including two hat tricks display his predatory instincts whilst his strength and work rate up front have made Andy Carroll a distant memory for Toon fans.
Royston Drenthe – The Dutchman has added a touch of class to the Everton attack with his speed and skill making him a dangerous proposition to any defence. Moyes will ideally like to see him attack the out of position Ryan Taylor but could deploy him on the left to cut inside on Danny Simpson.