I swear these preview posts are getting harder and harder to write. Firstly because usually the previous result hasn’t gone too well, but also due to the injury list getting ever bigger.
We keep on calling for bold changes, to give some zest to the team, but are still delivered the same old tired team.
I can’t see the next game being much different in that sense.
Injuries & Suspensions
There are a few changes that have been enforced for this game. Steven Naismith misses out after picking up a one game suspension for his fifth booking of the season against Stoke. Both Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka also limped out of that game at half time injured. Massive doubts remain over the two.
There are also doubts over John Stones and Kevin Mirallas after the bruising game against Stoke, with both being assessed before the game. I really worry if both Jagielka and Stones miss out, as our centre back pairing would be the ageing pair of Distin and Alcaraz.
I guess the one positive is that Newcastle are not exactly flying this year either, indeed they have lost the past four games. They will however be looking to put a stop to that run with two home games coming up.
Everton have won four of the last five meetings between the side, with one draw (remember how we love ending sequences?) so things are not all bad.
With Robles likely to come in for Howard, and Alcaraz for Jagielka the backline is going to be under some strain. In front of them hopefully Besic will have recovered to partner James McCarthey in place of Gareth Barry. Mirallas will play, if fit, as will Barkley. The remaining midfield place in my opinion should go to Leighton Baines on the left wing. Leighton is straining under the weight of having to attack and defend the whole left side himself and would thrive in the position with Garbutt behind him.
This would also take some of the strain off Baines from set piece distribution with Garbutt looking much better in that department at present. This would also give us much needed balance and defensive cover.
Up front Lukaku will continue, as if we can improve the service to him he will score the goals.
Expected team (hopefully):
Robles, Coleman, Garbutt, Alcaraz, Stones, Besic, McCarthey, Mirallas, Barkley, Baines, Lukaku.
Come On You Blues!