Tomorrow night Newcastle United travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton in the Premier League.
While yesterday we got my buddy Liam to give us his answers for our pre-match Q&A, today we have Lyndon from ToffeeWeb giving us his thoughts and you can see our responses to their Q&A here: Everton v Newcastle fan Q&A.
It's a big night for both sides with Newcastle hoping to keep the pressure on the top four despite their injury woes, while Everton must battle to claw their way out of the relegation zone after a 10-point deduction for breaching Financial Fair Play rules.
What are your hopes and expectations for this season, especially in light of the points deduction?
I think since late September when we won at Brentford, our hopes and expectations of achieving mid-table mediocrity were pretty much aligned and thanks to our win over Forest last Saturday, that is still the case, even with the points deduction. Speaking personally, before the independent commission delivered their surprising verdict, I was confident Sean Dyche could steer us up to around 12th by the end of the season and that is where we’d be now if we hadn’t had the 10 points taken away.
As things stand, assuming the penalty stands and the deduction isn’t reduced, I still think we’ll have enough to survive. We might need some luck on the injury front, particularly where Dominic Calvert-Lewin is concerned, because we have very little depth in the squad. We’re also going to have to navigate a difficult December with Chelsea, Spurs and Man City to come before the end of the year after the game against Newcastle.
How would you rate Sean Dyche’s impact at Everton?
Survival last season obviously went right to the wire, even though there was a time around March where it looked as though we might guarantee our safety with room to spare, but ultimately Dyche did what was asked of him last season. And after a pretty worrying start to 2023/24 with no goals, no wins and no points, he’s got us back on an even keel again, particularly away from home which is where his biggest impact has come. That and in terms of mentality — the spirit in the group is really good.
The standard of football is rarely “School of Science” stuff and he has some blind spots where certain players are concerned — *cough* Ashley Young — but, on the whole, the feeling is that he is the ideal manager for the situation we’re currently in. It probably needs a no-nonsense, back-to-basics bloke like him who is used to fostering a siege mentality from his time battling to keep Burnley in the Premier League.
Who is your best player? Who is one to watch for the future?
Our best player is a close call between Jordan Pickford and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Pickford did as much as anyone to keep us up over the last two seasons but, for me, DCL probably edges it. He has been a huge miss for us when out injured as he was on and off in 2021/22 and 2022/23 and it’s fair to say that had he been regularly available, we probably wouldn’t have been in such peril from relegation.
He has really come on as an all-round striker despite not being able to play consistently for two years and he’s vital to the way we play. Fingers crossed he can stay fit.
The Everton player to watch right now as well as for the future is Jarrad Branthwaite. He has come back from a really positive season-long loan at PSV Eindhoven and slotted into our back four like he has been there for yours. He has incredible composure for only being 21 and we are going to have a battle on our hands to keep him because the secret is already out that we’ve got a diamond of a centre-half on our hands. He has it all — height, size, balance, good feet and an unflappable demeanour. Definitely a big star in the making.
What are your thoughts on Newcastle, Eddie Howe, and Anthony Gordon?
I’m probably not alone in having been both really surprised and really impressed by how quickly Eddie Howe first turned things around at St James’s Park and then kept Newcastle up near the top to qualify for the Champions League. To watch you Barcodes do in 18 months what Farhad Moshiri has been trying — and failing — to do for 7 years with hundreds of millions wasted on middling players was pretty galling!
What’s worse is that while Moshiri was hiring Rafael Benitez against the advice and wishes of everyone of a Blue persuasion, Howe was out of work! It’s funny, though, I don’t think many Evertonians would have been thrilled had we appointed Howe at the time because of concerns over his experience at Burnley but, with the benefit of hindsight, we really missed a trick!
In terms of the Newcastle team as a whole, Howe seems to have improved what he inherited and the ownership have built on that with some really fine signings to form a well-balanced team. There’s a fearlessness and a single-minded desire to always play on the front foot that resonates with Evertonians and we’re hoping that Sean Dyche will eventually take some cues from that if he ever gets some money to spend on upgrading our side!
Where Anthony Gordon is concerned, I think we Blues suspected he might eventually come good but few tears were shed when he left. It was clear he wanted out at the time but few of our fans felt he had done enough to warrant such a big transfer fee and, to be honest, many felt we’d had Newcastle’s pants down given how inconsistent he can be. But, fair play, he looks to be fulfilling some of that early promise, which is much easier in a good team than it is in a poor one! I’d still rather have Dwight McNeil, though 😉
What do you think of the supposed rivalry that exists online between the two clubs?
It’s kind of funny seeing it’s not really based on anything other than similar-sized clubs who have gone through painfully long trophy droughts and too many false dawns to mention! A bit like it did between Blues fans and West Ham supporters a few years back, it seems to have grown out of a war of words on social media over which can claim to be the bigger club.
Perhaps it was natural given that both Everton and Newcastle had fallen so far behind the so-called “big six” that we had to form new rivalries but the way the Magpies are going, you’re on the way to restoring real rivalries again with the likes of Liverpool and United in the battle for the top four.
If you could steal one Newcastle player for your own team, who would it be and why?
Bruno Guimarães has made such a difference to your midfield but I would have to go for for Alexander Isak. He has such a brilliant eye for goal and wonderful technical ability — watching him twist Michael Keane in knots is a PTSD moment from last season! He would make such a difference to our side and I’d have him in a heartbeat.
Finally, what is your score prediction?
Our record at home has been pretty woeful this season, particularly against the much better teams so it’s hard to see us winning this one. Newcastle are such a hard team to contain when they’re up for it but if we can score first, I fancy us to get something. I’ll go for an entertaining 2-2 draw but live in hope that Thursday night under the Goodison lights is when our home form starts to turn.
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