Everton-Newcastle United Preview
LONDON (SE) - Newcastle United and Everton will both be looking to recover from disappointing defeats as they meet at St James' Park on Wednesday evening.
Wednesday's hosts Newcastle (5-5-10) have lost four of their last five in the league, and have conceded 11 goals in their two games since Christmas. A 4-3 defeat to Manchester United on Boxing Day was followed up by a 7-3 loss against Arsenal, but manager Alan Pardew believes his side's fatigue was the reason for the second defeat with Arsenal's Boxing Day game having been postponed.
"I thought when we got back to 3-3 we should have shut up shop," said Pardew after seeing his side concede three late goals. "I honestly think that would not have happened (had Arsenal also played three days earlier). We certainly wouldn't have had a scoreline like we had.
"The energy levels between the two teams was evident at the end. One team was energised, the other was really leggy. That's why we ended up with score that we did."
The defeat was the Magpies' eighth in 10 league games, leaving them just three points above the relegation zone heading into 2013.
"I've never looked away from the bottom of the league, to be honest," admitted Pardew. "Any Premier League manager outside of the top four or five clubs who says he doesn't look at getting 40 points first is telling a fib.
"We are 20 points short at the moment so we've got a bit to do. We've got good players to come back and we're going to make an impact in this league at some point. But we don't want to leave it too late."
Visitors Everton (8-9-3) saw a seven-game unbeaten run come to an end against Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, but striker Nikica Jelavic is still hopeful of a top four finish.
"My target is to score 15 goals this season and help us finish in the top four," said Jelavic. "To play in the Champions League would be magnificent.
"Our advantage is that Everton play as a united group - we do not depend on any one player. Marouane Fellaini's suspension has come at a bad moment, but we have reacted positively. I always wanted to play in England and this was a big chance. David Moyes has given me such confidence - from the first moment we spoke it was clear what was wanted from me."
Fellaini will be available for selection by Moyes after serving a three-match ban for headbutting Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross in Everton's 1-1 draw Dec. 15.
Newcastle have doubts over Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring) and Dan Gosling (knee), but Jonas Gutierrez (knee), Vurnon Anita (ankle), Steven Taylor (hamstring), Yohan Cabaye (groin), and Ryan Taylor (knee). Everton's Tony Hibbert (calf) and Kevin Mirallas (hamstring) are out.
The Magpies have won five games at home this season - only three teams have managed more - West Brom (7), Manchester City (7) and Manchester United (9). Striker Demba Ba has 13 goals this season, making him the league's joint second top-scorer behind Robin van Persie (14).
The Toffees have lost just twice on the road all season, but all five teams above them in the table have managed more than their three wins away from home.
These teams drew 2-2 when they met in September, with Ba scoring his second goal of the game to equalise in added time. The Magpies won this fixture 2-1 last season.