Everton vs Newcastle United

, 3 February, 96comments  |  Jump to most recent
Match Preview

With successive cup games on the road that yielded results as contrasting as the strength of the opponents, Everton are back at Goodison Park this evening looking to pick up the pieces of their Premier League campaign.

Just three wins at home in the League tell their own story of the Blues problems this term but a return to the top half beckons depending on what happens between Watford and Chelsea in the other Wednesday evening game along with the chance to remain eight points off fifth place, a goal that is not beyond Roberto Martinezs men if they can go on a run of victories in the coming weeks.

Putting two consecutive League wins together would be a start, something Everton have yet to do this season. Tom Cleverleys last-gasp, stoppage time goal at St James Park on Boxing Day felt like it could be the change in fortune and the catalyst that the team needed to change the course of their season but they were brought back down to earth by the events against Stoke City in the final game of 2015.

That day they lost in injury time to a controversial Marco Arnautovic penalty, the last of four goals the Blues conceded that day and it led to some introspection and a renewed focus on defence at Finch Farm that was evident in the home draw with Spurs and the first two encounters with Manchester City last month.

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Unfortunately, if those results were meant to be representative of a corner turned, the subsequent cession of two-goal leads at Chelsea in the League and City in the League Cup, with a demoralising home defeat to Swansea City sandwiched in between, have revived the inquest into Martinezs methods.

A routine FA Cup win at Carlisle on Sunday will hopefully have provided some tonic but the reality is that nothing short of three points from Newcastle and an encouraging performance at Stoke this coming weekend will be enough to lessen the focus on his defence and of his setup as a whole.

With those recent performances in mind, the manager has some selection dilemmas with which to contend for this one. If he has at all been conflicted about the goalkeeping situation he has hasnt shown it but that decision might have been made for Martinez by an apparent knee injury picked up by Tim Howard in training this week.

The American was the presumptive first-choice goalkeeper for the resumption of the League campaign but Joel Robles may get the chance to make a third consecutive start for the first time in a year, and with it the chance to further his claims for the role on a full-time basis.

At centre half, the Catalan has a difficult decision to make over which pairing to opt for in the wake of John Stones faltering recent form. The 21-year-old has been under mounting scrutiny in recent matches, not helped by being played out of position at the Etihad Stadium last week, and there is a feeling that he could do more time on the bench to reset his head a little.

The form of Ramiro Funes Mori and the influence of Phil Jagielka make that an easier option to take for Martinez than it otherwise might have been but he has shown the utmost loyalty to certain players in the past so nothing is a foregone conclusion.

On the right flank, Aaron Lennons impressive display in the cup at Brunton Park made a very good case for retaining him in the line-up but that would be the expense of Gerard Deulofeu who was, alongside Ross Barkley, the most likely player to have got Everton the extra goal they needed to retain the initiative in that ill-fated Capital One Cup semi-final tie against City.

The Spaniard will have benefited from the extra days off afforded him by sitting out the Carlisle game but it remains to be seen if Martinez will keep him on the bench with a second-half introduction in mind.

With Muhamed Besic and Kevin Mirallas still out injured, James McCarthy fit, and Gareth Barry certain to return, Cleverley will likely be handed the left-midfield role next to Barkley. Its unlikely the manager would have pitched new signing Oumar Niasse straight into the starting XI but the Senegal striker wont be eligible to feature until he receives his visa.

Newcastle boss, Steve McLaren, is in a similar boat with his new signing Seydou Doumbia, also from the Russian Premier League, although his international clearance could come through in time for him to play. The loanee is one of three significant signings made by the Magpies during the January transfer window one of them, Andros Townsend, could make his debut following his 12m switch from Spurs while the other, Jonjo Shelvey, is a player that could prove to be a big threat unless Everton have tightened up at the back.

The former Liverpool and Swansea midfielders range and accuracy of passing is a big reason why Mike Ashley forked out big money to bring the 23-year-old to the northeast and he will need to be shackled.

Kick-off: 7.45pm
Referee: Craig Pawson
Predicted line-up: Robles, Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines, Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley, Barkley, Lennon, Lukaku

Full details: ToffeeWeb match page

Reader Comments (96)

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Geoff Evans
1 Posted 03/02/2016 at 07:56:42
I'd settle for that line up.
Reg Gates
2 Posted 03/02/2016 at 08:08:22
I don’t care who he plays, I have lost all faith in the guy just get the points, keep us up and move on at the end of the season.

Guys saying he needs more time, he’s brought top players into the club. He’s had enough time to get It right and failed. I’m back to wanting 40 points – I thought those days were gone.

Jim Bennings
3 Posted 03/02/2016 at 08:16:25
Whatever the line-up I'd settle for a dismal 1-0 win with a flukey own goal that trickles over the line by centimeters.

We just can't afford to be conceding another 2/3 goals tonight at Goodison, you can't expect to won games by conceding goals every week, this is'nt some fantasy football this is the Premier League and clean sheets are vital for building a platform for success.

I'd probably be tempted to leave John Stones out of the firing line, for his own benefit if nothing else.

Start with Lennon and give Gerry the second half if needs be.

But whatever the team is, just WIN!!

Gerard Carey
4 Posted 03/02/2016 at 08:17:09
Good line-up, let's hope for three points. We really need to get points on the board.
Jack Cross
5 Posted 03/02/2016 at 08:39:49
Yes, Jim, agree with you it’s a must win tonight. Anyway we can.

Like Lyndon, said that Shelvey could spoil it for us if we don’t get to grips with him. He some player him.

And Townsend is as fast as hell.
both of those players can cause us major problems. But if we stick to our task, and it’s a big 'if', we should shackle both of them.

Niasse, being paraded before game and on bench Saturday going by TalkSport.

That Vardy goal was bloody brilliant, wasn’t it? Enjoyed it even more so against RedShite.

That Man City were lucky last night. I really felt for Sunderland. But that’s football for you.

That’s why tonight we had better be on our game. Having all the ball means nothing if we don’t come away with the three points.

Trevor Peers
6 Posted 03/02/2016 at 08:54:36
Every game we play now is a ’must win’ we’ve been saying that since November but it still hasn’t happened, the signs aren’t that good either.

Besic being injured is a big blow I thought he might make it for tonight’s game, because we still lack drive in central midfield. Shelvey will provide that for the opposition.

It’s going to be a tough game, we’re due a slice of luck, hopefully we get it and win a home game at last.

Raymond Fox
7 Posted 03/02/2016 at 09:08:24
The same as our last home game, the pressure on the players to win is steadily increasing, not a good situation.

What the players need is for us spectators to get behind them, the teams below us keep picking up points, it is getting towards serious.

No cat calls etc needed. Newcastle have strengthened, and will be right up for this game.

Jim Bennings
8 Posted 03/02/2016 at 09:08:43
Vardy's was an outstanding goal yes Jack.

From the highlights I saw, Leicester completely outplayed Liverpool and what a move that was that should have lead to Okazaki getting a penalty, if that move had been executed by Arsenal we'd have never heard the last of the Barcelona comparisons.

Leicester City..

What a season they've had, little money spent but a combination of being super fit, high intensity and no little skill or flair thanks to the likes of Mahrez and arguably the signing of the season in Kante.

They are an inspiration to every club outside the Sky Four.

David Hallwood
9 Posted 03/02/2016 at 09:22:56
Good report, Lyndon.

Not only would I settle for a spawny 1-0 anti football I’d welcome it. In fact I’d be even more delighted if we got an even spawnier even antier football v Stoke so long as it’s 1-0. Give me 1-0 last on MotD games from now til the end of the season.

I’ve had my fill of ’entertainment’ for one season-and you can file that under never satisfied.

David Hallwood
11 Posted 03/02/2016 at 09:26:53
Very true Jim (#6) and we’re all rooting for them. But if you’ve seen Paul Merson's Stones rant, which is a must see for every Evertonian. He asks how isn’t Everton above Leicester, and how many Leicester players would get into the Everton team. So it isn’t us that think we are underachieving.
Michael Penley
12 Posted 03/02/2016 at 09:32:41
Which Leicester players would get into the Everton team? All of them, including their coach. I mean, Christ, they’re winning, aren’t they? And we’re not.

For all our ’flair’ we can’t win a game. It does us no good. This is something Martinez doesn’t want to understand. He focuses on flair above winning football.

Rod Harrington
13 Posted 03/02/2016 at 09:33:15
1-0 to get back on track, will do absolutely fine tonight.
Jim Bennings
14 Posted 03/02/2016 at 09:55:10
It’s very frustrating comparing Leicester’s position to where we are so I just try not to do it.

I’m not jealous of Leicester or even envious anymore because I’m just more disappointed in our own failings and what’s gone badly wrong once again.

Leicester have the same team spirit that we had in 2004-05 but they have more flair and more goals in them than we had then, we lacked a 20-goal striker or a Mahrez technician until Arteta arrived but that wasn’t until February.

This season we have the pace and flair but we don’t have the resolve, the physical fitness to play a high intensity pressure game, and we also lack the ability to work as a unit and defend accordingly as a team.

Brian Porter
16 Posted 03/02/2016 at 09:59:57
Great article, Lyndon and I agree totally with your proposed line-up. I only hope Martinez doesn’t play ’favourites’ at the back. As you say, Stones could do with some time on the bench to sort his head out and we can’t afford to take any risks tonight in what could be a real pressure cooker of a game. On the couple of occasions they’ve played together at the back, Funes Mori and Jags have looked pretty composed as a pairing, plus Funes Mori carries a potential goal threat that makes him one of leading scorers in the last few games. I’d feel happier with the experience of a full Argentine international plus our England stalwart Jagielka in there tonight in a game that has taken on greater importance than it perhaps should in light of our recent performances and results elsewhere. Stones is just too much of a risk at present, though it’s not all his own fault.

I do honestly believe that Martinez must take a lot of the blame for Stones’s recent erratic form. Constantly going to the press and telling everyone how great Stones is and is going to be must weigh heavily on the young man’s mind and then failing to acknowledge the recklessness of actions like the Cruyff dribble in the box all serve to heap added pressure on John Stones. He needs time out and some decent in-depth defensive coaching and to learn that, despite what the manager says, it’s not always possible I advisable to try and play the ball out from defence when under pressure. I simple hoof upfield can often be the simplest and most beneficial option.

Sadly, I have to say I have lost faith in Martinez’s ability to make the right decisions in such situations and it seems I’m not alone in my thoughts. A poll currently running on the Royal Blue Mersey site, asking for fans’ opinions on Martinez’s performance as manager of our football club in January makes for interesting and quite damning reading. Still running, the current state of voting from the fans is as follows:

Asked for their approval rating of the manager’s performance...

0 - (Horrific). 73%
1 - (Poor). 16%
2 - (Average) 8%
3 - (Good). 2%
4 - (Excellent) 0%

I think that pretty much sums up the general feeling among the supporters and it’ll be interesting to see the final figures when the poll closes. When I first saw it yesterday the ’horrific’ rating stood at 70% so the increase to 73% overnight indicates even more growing dissatisfaction with Martinez’s ability to steer us clear of trouble and let’s not delude ourselves. Another couple of bad defeats and we’ll be well and truly in the relegation mire, but of course, we are not under achieving, because Roberto Martinez says so, right?

Peter Carpenter
17 Posted 03/02/2016 at 10:00:03
Atletico's Jackson Martinez joins Guangzhou for record £31m!

We must be able to get at least £12m for Hibbo.

What about a package including Gibson, Osman, Pienaar - £40m?

Christopher Timmins
18 Posted 03/02/2016 at 10:05:57
Let's hope for a win this evening and then for a prolonged run of form that takes near to 7th (the best I think we can achieve) than 17th. I know the manager is not everyone's cup of tea and as things stand I think he will find it difficult to survive but lets hope that the results between now and the end of the season make it impossible for the club to sack him. That can only happen with a sustained run of form over the final part of the season.

Some interesting calls tonight:

Robles or Howard – a no-brainer
Funes Mori or Stones – Funes Mori
Lennon or Deulofeu – Lennon.

I would like to see Pienaar get some more game time as I think he brings a balance to the team.

Keith Conchie
19 Posted 03/02/2016 at 10:07:11
I don’t wish any of our player’s to get injured, but I’m hopeful that Tim Howard is definitely out of contention tonight. Our defence just looks so much more comfortable with Robles in goal, although I don’t think he’s our long term answer.

If the recently impressive Gareth Barry can keep a tight control of Shelvey, and stop him making any telling passes then I think we’ll be alright.

I would like to see Rodriguez on the bench tonight instead of Kone, we must surely be ready to give him a chance by now. Kone is fading by the game (apart from the odd decent display in the cup).

My team (for what it’s worth):

Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines
McCarthy, Barry
Deulofeu, Barkley, Lennon

Give Stones a rest tonight and put him on the bench. He needs to get his confidence back.

Niall McIlhone
20 Posted 03/02/2016 at 10:14:53
I can’t get to the game tonight, and BT are covering Watford v Chelsea; we could do with the Hornets winning that one as Chelsea are gaining ground on us. (Anyone know any good internet feeds?!)

I am worried about tonight, not least because I think Newcastle have bought well this January, and they have in any case shown improved away performances, even if this has not translated into actual wins. The team you suggest is as good as we can put out right now, Lyndon, taking account of current form.

We have a good record against NUFC, but there is more "on" this game than any of the recent encounters, as a defeat for Everton will be very damaging and probably put paid to a top eight finish.

Colin Hughes
21 Posted 03/02/2016 at 10:33:47
With every batch of premier league results the table looks that slightly bit worse for us. A quick glance at the table in the morning papers now shows only the bottom three gave won fewer games than us and Newcastle (3rd bottom)could match our wins with victory tonight.

Swansea City who sacked their manager Gary Monk because of fear of relegation were last night stoppage time away from recording their seventh victory of the season at West Brom and are now just three points behind us.

I wonder if Martinez and the bungling cronies that run our club are actually aware of the fact of how bad we have really been this season? 6 wins in 23 I give you.

Make no mistake victory tonight would just paper over the cracks which will continue to blight us whilst we have a terrible defensive set up and erratic goalkeeper.

John Malone
22 Posted 03/02/2016 at 10:36:24
Keith 16, can you explain how Barry – a deep-lying playmaking midfielder – is supposed to shackle Shelvey, a deep-lying playmaking midfielder at opposite ends of the pitch?

For me, this is all about the right shape and tactics; I totally agree with leaving Stones out – his head has gone with the terrible coaching he’s getting from Martinez and the media hype which had built him up to be something he is not yet!

Newcastle are now perfectly equipped to beat us at home as they have Shelvey and Townsend to hit us on the counter attack! Tonight is all about Lukaku and Deulofeu, if Rom can hold the ball up and get Deulofeu one-on-one with Dummett in the final third it’s ours for the taking the only question I’ve got is can Lukaku do it up front on his own without Kone easing the pressure?

Rom hasn’t been the same since the Stoke game at home – it’s like he’s given up the hope of top four, sorted a move abroad, and dropped right off with his workrate and desire!

Paul Kennedy
23 Posted 03/02/2016 at 10:42:15
We've got to get a win tonight. I watched Leicester last night – what really impressed me was the commitment, energy, drive and working for each other right through the team and defenders who defended.

Oh for a manager with a complete football brain instead of one who seems to have forgotten the defencive part... maybe he mislaid that part of the book when he was learning?

Phil Walling
24 Posted 03/02/2016 at 10:54:54
Once again, no value in the win market with Everton showing at 7/11. So after Saturday's 'killing' with Victor I have taken 17/2 on a 2-0 result in our favour.

I can't imagine Newcastle's buying spree will have much influence on this game as the new boys will either be waiting clearance or not up to full fitness.

I've repeatedly forecast we shall get at least 5 further victories. This will be one of them.

Paul Kelly
25 Posted 03/02/2016 at 11:08:25
Clean sheet Phil? Hopeful mate. I was thinking more 3-1 for either team such is our form.
Harold Matthews
26 Posted 03/02/2016 at 11:22:04
No excuse for failing to win tonight but Doumbia might cause problems if he makes the line-up.
Paul Kelly
27 Posted 03/02/2016 at 11:24:20
So might Stones Harold (for us), sorry, couldn't resist.
Keith Conchie
28 Posted 03/02/2016 at 11:33:42
John (#19). Shelvey likes to push past the half way line before playing his passes, especially when playing against a formation like ours where there is more in midfield. This is were Barry needs to be ready to intercept any attempts by Shelvey to feed the ball through.

McCarthy needs to cover Barry whilst he stays close to Shelvey, and then be ready to receive the ball from him to start our attacks. I would like to see Lennon and Deulofeu both start so we can use their pace to hit Newcastle.

Brian Harrison
29 Posted 03/02/2016 at 11:49:57
I think it will be interesting to see the make up of our back four tonight. I think he will play Stones and Jagielka and leave Funes Mori out. I am not saying thats right, but I will be surprised if he left Stones out of a league game.

Whatever the team we must start picking up wins at home, only 3 home league wins is relegation form. Sooner or later we will start to lose away games and if we arent winning at home then we could be in a spot of bother.

So instead of blaming the lack of atmosphere at Goodison lately make it exciting from minute one. The crowd are desperate for a win and if the team is up for it then so will the fans be.

Jamie Barlow
31 Posted 03/02/2016 at 12:05:21
I feel quite confident about tonight's game. 3-1 and the orc to be sent off under the lights. An early goal to settle the crowd would do just fine.
Denis Richardson
32 Posted 03/02/2016 at 12:14:18
A win of any kind is needed just to put the R word to bed. However, even if we win we need a new manager.

Robles will thankfully start and hopefully Stones will be given a ’rest’.

Keep it tight at the back, we’ll get a result as the barcodes defence is as bad as ours. (Big 'if' I know...)

Paul Kelly
33 Posted 03/02/2016 at 12:14:49
With you on that shout Brian, can see Stones starting myself, but all things considered he ain't the only problem when it comes to defending, that's a team thing, which comes down to the manager.
Thomas Sharp
34 Posted 03/02/2016 at 12:24:45
3-2 Everton

Lukaku (2) Baines (1)

Please be true...

Christopher Dover
35 Posted 03/02/2016 at 12:31:57
Peter Carpenter (#14)

When I saw Martinez I thought our prayers had been answered. :)

Adam Luszniak
36 Posted 03/02/2016 at 12:37:51
Lukaku needs to get back in to form for us to win tonight in the absence of any other striker. Since his injury he hasn’t been at the races and he’s our only consistent threat in front of goal. I think the team should be:

Coleman, Funes Mori, Jagielka, Baines
Barry, Mcarthy
Deulofeu Barkley, Cleverley

Harold Matthews
37 Posted 03/02/2016 at 12:38:38
Keith # 24. It would be nice if McCarthy twirled to face forward as he receives the ball. Unfortunately, he likes to go where his right foot points which usually means sideways or back.

Baines, Coleman and Barry are the same. They can all use both feet but prefer to stay with the stronger one. This puts a severe brake on our forward tempo.

Bill Griffiths
38 Posted 03/02/2016 at 12:41:50
Can't understand why so many on here are worried about Shelvey, a Journeyman player at his best.
Adam Luszniak
39 Posted 03/02/2016 at 12:44:04
Harold I have to disagree regarding Baines, he is the last person I would accuse of slowing our forward play, if Baines doesn't go forward, his pass does, and if his pass goes forward, you'll see Baines run forward. He is also adept at getting the ball to Lukaku's feet when the latter is on the edge of the box. I notice this pass every time they play together.

Baines' forward running is even more noticeable when he plays for England, because it is never noticed by any other player and i'm always screaming PASS IT TO BAINES FFS at the telly.

Harold Matthews
40 Posted 03/02/2016 at 12:45:51
Pellegrini says that, in order to win games, teams should play with intensity and full concentration for 93 minutes. No wonder we're not doing so well.
Kunal Desai
41 Posted 03/02/2016 at 12:56:42
Take Stones out of the firing line, it has to be Funes Mori and Jagielka at the back. As many people have touched upon, Stones isn’t being coached correctly, his confidence has been affected and I’m wondering also if his head is now elsewhere with a few months of the season remaining.

What are the odds on a new boy sticking the boot into us, someone like Shelvey, Townsend or Doumbia. 4 points from tonight and Stoke, nothing less is good enough, otherwise we really are in a dogfight with others below picking up points.

Keith Conchie
42 Posted 03/02/2016 at 13:04:58
Harold 31. I agree with you about Mcarthy. As much as I like him, he never looks at going forward enough. I would much rather see Besic in at the moment, and hope he is fit again for the weekend.
Kim Vivian
43 Posted 03/02/2016 at 13:19:02
Vardy’s goal? Now THAT’S confidence.

Nothing, however, that Ross hasn’t got in his armoury but he’d probably be fined a weeks’s wages for shooting from there.

David Barks
45 Posted 03/02/2016 at 13:30:35
Christ, we're only one point above 15th in the table. Shocking how far we've fallen in only 2.5 seasons.
Charles McCann
46 Posted 03/02/2016 at 13:47:05
Keith (36). McCarthy does a lot of the dirty work that sometimes goes unnoticed and offers great protection to the defence. I do agree he could look fwd a bit more often but he has been sorely missed in recent weeks.

I also really like Besic but I think he is out for another few weeks. When fit again it has to be McCarthy and Besic in the middle of the park for me. Don’t like saying it in case I jinx things but if Bobby gets the team selection right we should win comfortably.

Tom Bowers
47 Posted 03/02/2016 at 13:54:27
Well we keep hoping for another good show. When was the last?

Anyway, Barcodes will have some renewed confidence with some newbies and maybe the knowledge Everton are vulnerable at Goodison. Everton will obviously have to start well and put them to the sword early in order to establish control.

Shelvey has ability and needs to be kept from spraying those long balls. I would like to see Cleverly passing better than he has been.

Yes, a 1-0 victory would suffice as they have to go to Stoke next and need to be full of confidence.

Dave Pritchard
48 Posted 03/02/2016 at 14:06:08
My main hope on selection for tonight is that players are not played out of position. So, no Stones at right-back and Kone up front (not in midfield) if Rom is not fit. However, the only proper left-sided midfield player available is likely to be Pienaar and he’s not at full throttle yet. Has Lennon ever played there?

I would probably start Lennon over Deulofeu on the right anyway. Deulofeu is a half-hour player as far as effectiveness goes at the moment.

David Booth
49 Posted 03/02/2016 at 14:12:35
Much more important than who plays where (which is always a lottery of last match form over consistency and baffling favouritism with Martinez), one thing was very evident to me about the Swansea game – no account seems to be taken of how to nullify the opposition.

One game into his UK tenure, Swansea’s manager had clearly done his homework on us:

i) Surround Lukaku, who is always isolated on his own.

ii) Press Everton when they start fannying around at the back and force them to play the ball quickly.

iii) Squeeze them to make them play through the middle, then pack the edge of the penalty area as they run out of ideas.

All three worked a treat and despite a lot of huff & puff, we never looked like equalising, never mind winning a game we never got a grip of. This against one of the most abject teams in the division... at home.

I am NOT a pessimist, but sadly cannot see any other scenario tonight against an ever more abject team – because Martinez has not got the nous to organise this talented bunch of players into an effective unit.

It’s not just the defence he can’t sort out. Midfield is an incoherent shambles and up front we look great in full flow but run out of ideas and movement most of the time.

Baffles me why, for example, that when in possession and with Deulofeu in acres of space on the wing, no-one seemingly has instructions to look for him and we play it sideways to whoever happens to be standing out on the left.

So much potential here right now, but SO frustrating with every game that passes to realise that Martinez (for all his virtues), doesn’t look as if he knows how to harness it.

We all know we should play these off the park tonight. But we all know we won’t, don’t we?

Bill Gall
51 Posted 03/02/2016 at 14:32:18
Same result as at Newcastle, with a goal scored in extra time will do.
James Marshall
52 Posted 03/02/2016 at 14:44:47
We’re due a win at home. Tonight is the night. Surely. If we lose and Chelsea win, they’ll go above us – can you imagine...
Dave Pritchard
53 Posted 03/02/2016 at 14:53:41
Don’t disagree with your three points David, I just have a dislike for players being put in situations that they are uncomfortable with unless it is a necessity to play someone out of position due to circumstances.

With our record this season a draw seems likely tonight which will just about keep our heads above the relegation waters. Stoke (on Saturday) are on a bad run so not a bad time to play them.... I know, I know. About time we won there, can’t remember the last away win against them. Anybody?

Jay Harris
54 Posted 03/02/2016 at 14:53:48
I happen to think this could be a game where we need to score one more than them.

I would go all out attack against a very porous defence going against my feelings for every other game and beat the third from bottom team making it a hat trick against the bottom three.

With that in mind I would start Lennon on the left and Delofeu on the right bringing Pienaar on for the second half for Delofeu.

I would give McCarthy a rest and play Cleverley there and Although I was in the camp of resting Stones to take the pressure off him I thought Funes Mori had a very shaky game on Sunday so would renew the Stones Jags partnership for this one and hope the crowd don't get impatient with Stones.

Will Firstbrook
55 Posted 03/02/2016 at 15:02:02
A professional job required by all this evening to put this lot away. A clean sheet would go a long way to help stabilize a defensive side that has been at sixes and sevens far too long. COYB!
Mark Daley
56 Posted 03/02/2016 at 15:11:59
A game EFC must win if they are to keep alive their hopes of finishing in the top 10...

I suspect Howard has diplomatic flu.

How long will the negotiations with Moores drag on? Nothing else to hope for this season except the Big Bill Buy-out.

Jay Harris
57 Posted 03/02/2016 at 15:21:59

They haven't even sat down for final talks yet.

That should be fun when they ask for an explanation of "Other Operating Costs".

Geoff Evans
59 Posted 03/02/2016 at 15:29:58
Three points tonight and we'll have won as many games as WBA and Bournemouth, phenomenal...
Eivind Nyhus
60 Posted 03/02/2016 at 15:30:22
Stones should not play today.
Andy Meighan
61 Posted 03/02/2016 at 15:35:06
Barry, McCarthy and Cleverley all in the side, if it is that line-up... and I've a feeling it will be. No wonder we struggle at home; while Cleverley isn't my cup of tea, he has been shunted around the midfield. And it's obvious to anyone he isn't a wide player but it's like Martinez has to accommodate him.

Maybe if there is a change to your line-up, Stones will come back in at the expense of Funes Mori. Criminal in my view because the lad is a mistake and a penalty-giver waiting to happen. I could just imagine Martinez sitting in his office saying to himself. "I'll show these who's boss."

Expect another night of toil á la Swansea. Got 'draw' stamped right through it.

Miles Jordan
62 Posted 03/02/2016 at 15:42:42
Dear Roberto,

Did you happen to notice what all the top 7 teams did last night? Yes, that's right, they all kept clean sheets.

Might be worth a try!

Derek Cowell
63 Posted 03/02/2016 at 15:44:15
How can anyone on here think that we will concede 0 after all that has been going on this season? Do you not watch the games? We cannot defend and never change anything to make good defending happen! It's the Martinez way FFS! I predict another high scoring game and the way it goes in terms of a winner will be a lottery.

I also cannot believe those who are still talking of us finishing as high as 7th or 8th. I want to be optimistic, I really do....but I am being a realist based on all the evidence before me. As a result I am just waiting for the 40 point mark to be reached so that I can relax a bit (if it ever is!). The way things stand a draw against a bottom 3 team keeps them the same distance behind us, although I hope for a win of course. Hope is all we have to look forward to now as Bobby has all but removed enthusiastic expectation.

6 wins from 23 and people expect 5 or 6 more from the remaining 15 games! I hope you are right!! I want so much to be proved wrong.

Please please please win tonight as my nerves will not stand remaining on 29 points for any longer!

Paul Kossoff
64 Posted 03/02/2016 at 16:02:21
I listened to Vardy's boys beating the RedShite last night and the commentator saying Leicester have shut up shop with over 20 minutes to go. Wouldn’t it be nice of Roberto, if he had it in him to signal with 20 mins to go, ’Right lads, shut up shop.’
Richard Lyons
65 Posted 03/02/2016 at 16:05:47
I can't help feeling doom and gloom...
It's a 6 pointer... And we'll be lucky to get 1 point...
Brian Porter
66 Posted 03/02/2016 at 16:06:12
If Martinez picks Stones ahead of the in-form Funes Mori, it will make his words about form players being picked a load of bullshit nonsense, but then what else have we come to expect from this faker who couldn’t manage the proverbial piss-up in a brewery.
Jimmy Salt
67 Posted 03/02/2016 at 16:19:23
Patrick Murphy
68 Posted 03/02/2016 at 16:21:54
Interesting that David Prentice says that tonight's game isn't just another game for Roberto, also interesting is that our neighbours sit above us in the table having scored 10 less than the Blues and conceded the same number of goals as our porous defence has, albeit having played a game more than us.


Keith Conchie
69 Posted 03/02/2016 at 16:41:42
I agree with others that a clean sheet is a must. It can only help Robles have more of a chance at staking a regular start in the league, and also show that our defence is more comfortable with him in goal.

I also agree that Besic and McCarthy should be our future partnership in holding midfield, but at the moment I can’t fault Barry. And I never thought I would say that (never really rated him).

Anyone think Rodriguez should be on the bench tonight? Or is it just me? I just want to see what he can offer us instead of Kone.

David Booth
70 Posted 03/02/2016 at 16:54:11
I wonder how Martinez briefs the team before the game?

It's a lovely old romantic notion to imagine him saying: "Just go out and play lads..."

But in sad reality, it looks as if that's about it?

So tonight, impose yourselves Everton and get THEM on the back foot right from the kick-off. Don't let it be Newcastle who get the first shot off and induce the first gasp from the crowd.

Rip into them. Let's thrash someone for once, get a big win under our belts and finally start climbing the table in realistic pursuit of a European place.

Every game since November has been a vital one for us, but this is the tipping point. Lose tonight and we really are going nowhere under this manager.

Dave Abrahams
71 Posted 03/02/2016 at 16:54:47
It’s very strange the only times he has shut up shop, was against Sunderland and Aston Villa, we won them games 6-2 and 4-0, but started all the tippy tappy nonsense when there was plenty of time to score a few more.
Eugene Ruane
72 Posted 03/02/2016 at 16:55:14
Whatever happens, let's just hope the 1972 'Scotswood Aggro Boys' aren't now the Scotswood Aggro men.

If that's the case, my walk down Priory Rd after the game could be 'pwoppah nawwwteee'


Up the Toffees!

Peter Cummings
73 Posted 03/02/2016 at 16:57:02
Feel this might be a ’banana skin’ event unless we put a 90-min shift in. I just hope I’m wrong as, like most of our fans, my nerves are getting more shattered with every game.
Andy Walker
74 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:06:48
5 posters on this site believe this is a 'must win' game. Why? We ain't remotely going to get near the top 4 and this isn't a relegation battle. The latter will hopefully never happen, but we certainly haven't reached the 'must win' stage yet. Let's get some perspective hey, we are now mid-table also rans, gone are the days when we did play in must win games when we were frequently pushing for top 4 under Mr Moyes.

We may end up in some such games in the future with Martinez, but they will only ever be at the end of the season trying to avoid relegation, Roberto's speciality.

David Barks
75 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:10:11
Andy Walker,

Bravo. This is nothing more than a meaningless game in February. Thank you, Martinez, for letting us know how being one point above 15th in the table is not under-achieving at Everton.

Colin Gee
76 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:11:40
Get beat tonight and lose at Stoke on Saturday and we could be 3 points off the relegation zone, if I have just worked it out correctly... that’s why it is a must win game!
Jim Hardin
77 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:12:11

Any game versus a team below you is must win to me. That is how they stay below you and then relegation is only a word you read about for other clubs.

Hope Stones sits, as the defense looks way more comfortable without him messing around in the box.

Joe Clitherow
78 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:24:04
Any game is a must win, full stop. Every foul, every corner, every throw in, every challenge, every decision is a must win.

Quite apart from everything else, I and nearly 35000+ others have spent/will be spending hard earned cash going tonight to expect a 'must win' attitude from every player and every single other person who takes a wage from us.

So yeah, let's get some proper perspective which isn't sitting in your armchair looking a league table and a fixture list, it's playing for the supporters and the absolute honour to be playing or managing for Everton Football Club.

Andy Walker
79 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:28:46
Cheers David, some perspective.

Jim and Colin by definition a must win game is a game where there must be serious consequences if they do not win, for example serious threat of relegation, or major opportunity lost to get in top 4.

If we don't win tonight, hate to say it, but so what? It won't have any major ramifications at all. We'll just be slightly lower in mid table rather than slightly higher. This game highlights the transformation of our club from a top 4 competitor to a mid table also ran under the feckless stewardship of one Mr Martinez.

Time and again those (not saying you) who wanted Moyes out used the fact that we only finished 5th 6th 7th as some way of justifying their view that Moyes wasn't good enough. Well finishing in those places meant games were always significant right up to the end of the season, we always had hope. I'm not used to games that mean so little when we are only in early February.

Tony Hill
80 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:29:25
I agree with Colin (#70) that we would be very uncomfortable if we lost both the next two games. I don’t think we will, and I expect a good win tonight with the crowd right behind the team.
Andy Walker
81 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:34:54
Joe I think you are confusing must win games, with a winning attitude. Of course the players must go out their with a winning attitude, but that attitude has no bearing on the importance or otherwise of the match they are playing in, that is beyond the players' control.

This cannot under any definition be classed as a must-win game and every game is not a must-win game; if it were then the expression ’must-win’ would be totally meaningless. Context is needed to justify such a term.

Kim Vivian
82 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:43:38
For RM, I would say this is a must-win game. For Everton and me, this is a 'must-not-lose/best-not-draw' game.
Jim Scales
83 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:44:26
I am strangely confident this evening, 2~0, Ross and Geri to score.
Joe Clitherow
84 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:45:16
I am not at all confused at all Andy, please do not patronise me, I know exactly what I meant.

By your definition use of the term ’must-win’ implies that there is an element of choice in picking what you win. By the same definition that means there is less effort in games that are not ’must win’ in the way you are trying to define.

Sorry sunshine, doesn’t work like that. If it did, then by the time you got into trouble, that means you ’must-win’ you aren’t capable of it. Martinez knows that better than most – or at least he should; I’m not so sure.

Winning is a habit you get into; winning a game starts with challenging for that throw-in, or cutting Ronaldo in half with a – perfectly fair – tackle which sparks your team on a run.

Winning is a habit; so is losing. We are in a rut by my definition, it has to stop at the earliest opportunity. That’s tonight, hence, ’must-win’.

Now I’m off to Goodison Park.

Jay Wood
85 Posted 03/02/2016 at 17:46:28
Joe @ 72

Amen to that Brother Joe. I fancy you, myself and others of like-minded expectations belong to the Alan Ball-Peter Reid school of thought that HATED losing and would contest every single thing on the pitch for every second of the game.

Andy Walker, I think I get the point you are making – that under RM we are less likely to be involved in meaningful must win games at the top end of the table than we were under Moyes, but rather more likely (eventually) to face must-win games at the wrong end of the table if Roberto remains at Everton.

Unfortunately, the way your posts read implies you are not concerned with the team’s plight or lowly position, which I’m guessing is not what you really intended.

Joe Clitherow
86 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:06:05
You’re right, Jay, on Reidy and Bally. But please don’t say you fancy me... freaks me out a bit (as we’ve never met).

I got Andy’s point and if his argument was ’must-win’ was a ridiculously stupid concept at all for professional sportsmen then I would agree. But saying there are ’must win’ games implies there are ’can’t be arsed if we lose or draw’ games.

I can’t ever accept that. Not least, as I said, because money changing hands means a contract and a duty of care. Paying fans are overlooked by TV companies, media and rich owners. When the fans themselves start doing that we really have reached a low point.

Eddie Dunn
87 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:19:36
We have humbled Villa and Sunderland at home, and this poor Newcastle side represent our best chance of a convincing home win. A good start will help our cause, get the crowd onside and continue the way we played at Carlisle.

We really need to get these points, as another display like the Swansea one will just not do.

I hope Lukaku wakes up from his hibernation and bags a couple.

Jim Hardin
88 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:20:14

There are 38 games in the league so I would say each is equally important as the season begins. Now as the season progresses then the remaining games become more or less important depending upon the results before, correct? However, the factor of who you will play then adds in. Everton sits 8 points from the 18th place team, Newcastle. If we lose, then we sit 6 points above Norwich who would then be in the relegation spot of 18th.

After Newcastle, we still play Aston Villa, Norwich, Sunderland, Bournemouth, and West Brom. These are the teams below us. The rest of our games are against teams above us.

Everton currently are averaging 1.23 points per game overall. This should see us to safety at 46 points. However, if we lose to the teams below us, especially those in 19-17th place then we will have to gain more points per game to stay on the average. which is hard to do versus teams better than us in the standings.

I know the analysis is simplistic but this is why this game is a must win as there are, borrowing your definition, serious consequences if we lose.

Jay Wood
90 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:24:53
Very droll, Joe!

I agree totally on your on your stance, re: professional sports people and the concept of 'must win' games. They are richly rewarded and their professional lives are dedicated to honing their skills and mindset to produce the very best performance they are capable of every time they enter the live sports arena.

To get to the level they have, every professional footballer on Everton's book has faced competition, challenges and battles pretty much every day of their career. For their own professional pride, never mind any question of moral duty to the paying public, every game by default is a 'must win,' regardless IMO of the narrow definition Andy attempts to apply.

John Graham
91 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:32:49
I think for me I would prefer Deulofeu and Kone up front to start and then bring on Lennon later for Kone to keep them on the back foot.

Doesn’t look like we have too many options... Let’s hope the kids doing well out on loan will get some first-team opportunities next season.

Darren Hind
92 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:33:11
Got 50/1 for us to win our next 6 games on Saturday, really skinny odds but the big bookies couldn't be arsed working out a price so I went with a small independent.

We'll win tonight, that will be two down four to go.

Things can only get better.

Jay Harris
93 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:41:00
Despite the recent desperate performances I too thought there is no way we will be in the relegation battle but lose tonight and I am not so sure.

Lukaku's mind recently seems to be where is he going this Summer as does Stones.

The crisis of confidence that will come from not winning this game is a frightening thought.

Andy Walker
94 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:42:23
Jay and Joe, I completely agree with you – of course it’s a must-win game from the players' perspective. As I have already said, but you both must have missed, the mental attitude of the players must always be "we must win". But the players' mental attitude does not have any connection to defining whether the game itself is a must-win match.

This match ain’t a must-win game for the club and the comments on this thread which I was referencing have been made in the context that this is a must-win game for our team, just like you would expect to use the term.

The comments made on here to which I was referring were not made in the context of the minds of the players, very zen.

Imagine 3 games to go we are away at the bottom team. If we win then all we have to do is win our remaining last 2 games at GP to guarantee a top 4 finish. It’s in our hands (I know it’s a ridiculous dream but bear with me).

Now here we have the definition of 'must-win games'. What would you call these games? Oh yea, just the same as this game against Newcastle. I think there’s a big difference in the importance of such games and I suspect most folk would.

Phil Smith
95 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:49:21
Is it just me or is Stones not in the team at all today?
Jay Harris
96 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:53:48
Does anyone know why Newcastle got Doumba’s visa today but Everton won't get Niasse’s till Friday?
Andy Walker
97 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:54:15
Jay I also agree and have said before relegation is not inconceivable but we are not at the stage where we have to win, at least not yet.

Martinez is the master of hyperbole, we all recognise that last season everything was ’phenomenal’ and this season it’s ’incredible’. It now seems the hyperbole may be catching if fans get to the stage where every game we play is a 'must-win'. Of course, if we redefine this term, then, when we do win, the manager will get greater credit for winning what was spun as a must-win game. Context and perspective are so important, the power and influence of the misuse of language should not be forgotten.

Martinez is not just being derided by most fans for his ludicrously OTT statements but now by national media. It causes damage to our club and he’ll end up loosing credibility with the players if he keeps telling them how incredible they are, because they won’t buy it forever.

Neil Wood
98 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:56:02
You had to finalise transfer before dinner time Jay. We didn’t.

I’m bemused with no Deulofeu playing...

Colin Glassar
99 Posted 03/02/2016 at 18:59:19
Deulofeu runs out of steam after an hour, I think the Premier League pace is catching up to him. Lennon works hard and can be replaced on the hour, if necessary.
Jay Wood
100 Posted 03/02/2016 at 19:01:44
Andy @ 86. No misunderstanding or confusion in my head Andy. I think it's more a question of semantics and how 'must win' is defined rather than a 'you're wrong, I'm right' bun fight.

Jim @ 82 has a good stab as to why, before a ball is kicked in anger at the start of the season, every single 38 league games is a 'must win', because there is an incremental effect on subsequent fixtures if you do/don't win.

To that end, as others in this thread have pointed out, tonight is a 'must win' game before we REALLY get into a 'must win' game (as narrowly defined by you).

Paul Thompson
101 Posted 03/02/2016 at 19:10:40
No Stones anywhere and Baines on the bench. If one of the central defenders is injured we are screwed.

Team aside, this could be a difficult game. Newcastle are notorious poor travellers, but they have been up and down home and away this season. Shelvey, on form, is player who could hurt us with those long diagonal balls from which we've conceded so often this season. Andros Townsend could give Oviedo a torrid time, though the latter is quick (is that why he was picked?). I hope I'm wrong, but I can this as 2-2.

Andy Walker
102 Posted 03/02/2016 at 19:20:27
Hi Jay, 'tonight is a 'must win' game before we REALLY get into a 'must win' game (as narrowly defined by you).

That really made me smile! By definition, by preceding 'win' with 'must' there has to be a much greater than average importance to winning that particular game. That's what the word must means. Otherwise saying every game is a must win game is a totally nonsensical sentence. Bit like the one above.

I know this may look like semantics but the casual reinterpretation of words is what snake oil merchants and their believers thrive on. Martinez's casual attitude to our language stinks, I know it's not his native tongue but he's intelligent enough to know better and it seems like some fans are getting caught in his trap.

Phil Sammon
104 Posted 03/02/2016 at 19:42:41
Biggest surprise for me is Oviedo in the side. I know he's been forced to play out of position a couple of times recently but, even so, I think he's been very poor.

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