Two of the Premier League’s most inconsistent teams face off at St James’ this evening and it has all the makings of a Boxing Day feast.
Newcastle’s defence is typical leaky and Everton have one of the most potent front lines in the league at the moment. With the pace and power of Lukaku, Everton can break on a side at a pace that Jamie Vardy would be proud of, whilst Georgino Wijnaldum is beginning to show the class that made Newcastle splash out so much on the Dutchman.
If Everton are to make it into the European places, they desperately need to find some consistency and make sure that their defence doesn’t keep parting like the red sea.
Mike Ashley’s tight pockets are unlikely to open again in January, so McClaren is fully aware that he must carry Newcastle to safety with the squad currently at his disposal and good home form will be crucial to that.
Here are 7 facts to prepare you for the game…
Newcastle have won 12 Premier League home games against Everton; only against Aston Villa (14) have they won more at St James’ Park.
The Magpies have lost some of the fear factor around St James’ in the last few seasons, but no side has struggled there as much as Everton. In fact, there were a couple of heroic Shearer goals against the Toffees!
Romelu Lukaku has had a hand in nine goals in six Premier League apps against Newcastle (five goals, four assists).
The monstrous Belgian has humiliated Newcastle a fair few times since he arrived in the PL and whoever starts in central defence for Newcastle will be fearing another embarrassment.
Papiss Cisse has scored in all three of his Premier League appearances on Boxing Day (2012 v Man Utd, 2013 v Stoke, 2014 v Man Utd).
Cisse has a superb record in the traditional Boxing Day fixtures and the Senegalese front man will be hoping to get a start today.
Ross Barkley has scored or assisted 12 goals in 17 Premier League appearances this season (six goals, six assists). Before 2015-16 he had a hand in 10 goals (eight goals, two assists) in 76 Premier League games.
Barkley is beginning to fulfil his potential and Martinez’s faith in the starlet has been repaid rapidly.
Everton have won five and lost just one of their last seven Premier League meetings with Newcastle United (W5 D1 L1).
The Toffees have had the better of the Magpies in recent years and go into this game as favourites.
Newcastle United have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the Premier League this season (12).
Everton will know they can push for the victory well into the dying minutes with Newcastle’s poor record when they take the lead.
Newcastle are unbeaten in three Premier League games (W2 D1) – the first time they’ve managed to go three league games without defeat since February 2015 (W1 D2).
McClaren’s side have found some form for the first time in quite a while and they are beginning to build momentum through the quality of their midfield.