Newcastle United and Everton will both be striving to return to form and achieve their first wins on the festive programme as they meet at St. James’ Park.
Suddenly, after an amazing run of form which took them well into the top half of the Premier League, concern has engulfed Tyneside as the result of Newcastle suffering four straight defeats in all competitions, three of which have been fairly comprehensive.
The last of those was at Manchester United on Boxing Day, where they got off to a decent start but never looked like getting anything after conceding the opener. That was the most worrying aspect of that particular game, but manager Alan Pardew must also look to ease the scoring burden on Papiss Cisse and Ayoze Perez.
When they last visited Newcastle back in March, Everton were at the top of their game and gunning for a Champions League, winning 3-0. Nine months later, they look a pale shadow of that side, despite very few changes to the squad and the coaching team.
Lying 13th and needing an incredible upturn in form to even have a faint hope of reaching the top four this time around, the Toffees experienced more frustration last time out as they were outfought by Stoke City, rendering this a critical game in their season.
Jak Alnwick remains in goal for Newcastle, who have Cheick Tiote back from suspension. This game is likely to come too soon for midfielders Mehdi Abeid and Siem De Jong.
Everton are without Steven Naismith after the Scot picked up his fifth yellow card against Stoke. Meanwhile, Joel Robles is set to replace the injured Tim Howard in goal, with Phil Jagielka, Kevin Mirallas and John Stones also doubtful.
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