Everton will be determined to win for the first time in six league games and ensure they do the double over strugglers Newcastle United when the two sides meet on Merseyside on Wednesday.
A straightforward success over League Two side Carlisle United will be what Everton hope can be the launchpad to an improved run of results, with a poor recent defensive record having seriously undermined their obvious attacking flair. It came after they suffered a huge sense of injustice in losing to Manchester City on aggregate in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup, where the game turned against them following an error by the officials.
Indeed it seems a long time since the Toffees last took to the field for a Premier League encounter, and that very much proved to be one of the lowest points of their season as Swansea City triumphed at Goodison Park. It saw questions asked of the much acclaimed young defender John Stones, whose inexperience has shown in terms of his decision making of late, so here a clean sheet is paramount as his side have more than enough attacking talent to topple the Toon Army.
Sub-standard defending was also the downfall of Steve McClaren’s men last time out as they suffered defeat at Watford after conceding a soft goal within moments of the second half getting underway in a game in which they had very much been holding their own. The avoidable give-away of a second goal meant that they could not record successive wins and so they still desperately need points, marooned in the bottom three.
On the plus side the Magpies have probably done the best business of any of the struggling sides in the January transfer window, with Seydou Doumbia coming in to join fellow new signings Henri Saivet and Jonjo Shelvey. The former CSKA Moscow striker provides a real goalscoring threat and so his new side now have a host of strong attacking options to choose from. In light of that it now seems as if their Premier League future will rely on how solid they are at the back between now and May 15.
This game may come too soon for new Everton acquisition Oumar Niasse to make his debut, while Kevin Mirallas is hoping to shake off a knee problem.
Newcastle are still without Vurnon Anita, Papiss Cisse, Massadio Haidara and Siem de Jong, but hope to have Jack Colback available after he missed the game at Watford.