Newcastle host Everton on Saturday with just three points separating these two European hopefuls.
Steve Bruce’s side came back down to earth with a thump on Boxing Day as Man United came back to thump the Magpies 4-1 at Old Trafford. It ended a decent run of three wins in four and quashed budding talk of a chase for the European places.
Meanwhile, Everton continued their (latest) mini-revival as they beat Burnley to make it four unbeaten in the Premier League and gave new boss Carlo Ancelotti the perfect start to life at Goodison Park.
The Italian will be hoping to make it back-to-back wins when his new charges head to Newcastle on Saturday.
When is Newcastle vs Everton and where can I watch live?
Competition: Premier League
Venue: St James Park, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Date: Saturday, 28 December 2019
Kick-off: 3:00 PM (UK time)
TV coverage (UK): This game will not be shown live in the UK.
Last five meetings: Newcastle vs Everton
03 February 2016: Everton 3-0 Newcastle (Premier League)
13 December 2017: Newcastle 0-1 Everton (Premier League)
23 April 2018: Everton 1-0 Newcastle (Premier League)
05 December 2018: Everton 1-1 Newcastle (Premier League)
09 March 2019: Newcastle 3-2 Everton (Premier League)
Aggregate Score: Newcastle (WDLLL) 4-8 Everton (LDWWW)
Players to watch
Newcastle: Jonjo Shelvey
Newcastle miss Jonjo Shelvey when he’s not in the team and with good reason. The midfielder is the fulcrum in the centre of the park around which everyone else feeds.
He gets forward into dangerous areas and causes opponents problems which has seen him have 22 shots in the top-flight this season, third on the team behind Miguel Almiron and Joelinton.
The former Charlton man will be an important figure if the Magpies are to mount a run on the Europa League spots in 2020, something they could well achieve if they maintain their good home form.
Key stat: Jonjo Shelvey has created 19 chances in just 12 league appearances for Newcastle this season, a better ratio than any other player in the team.
Everton: Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Everton’s poor season has seen a number of their big-name players struggle, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been one of the lights in this gloomy campaign thus far. The striker netted the winner to give Carlo Ancelotti a winning start against a stubborn Burnley on Boxing Day. Ancelotti’s response was to describe Calvert-Lewin as a “fantastic striker” who needs to be more focused on the goal when Everton are without possession.
The 22-year-old is still young and improving which will only continue under the guidance of the Italian. He leads the line well for the Toffees and his physical play and energy will be important against Steve Bruce’s Magpies.
Key stat: Dominic Calvert-Lewin had six goals in the 35 games last season. He has already equalled that total in just 17 top-flight appearances in 2019-20.
With Shelvey and Almiron back fit, Newcastle’s main concerns are with left-back Paul Dummett, who missed the Boxing Day clash with Manchester United after suffering a groin strain against Crystal Palace.
Jamaal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin are both out while Matt Ritchie is unlikely to feature. Ciaran Clark is also injured but Jetro Willems returned against the Red Devils and could keep his place in the XI.
Shelvey is expected to start after remaining on the bench at Old Trafford.
Predicted XI: Dubravka; Schar, Fernandez, Lejuene; Manquillo, S.Longstaff, Shelvey, Almiron, Willems; Joelinton, Gayle.
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Everton have a number of injury concerns heading into Saturday. Alex Iwobi remains on the treatment table after his early exit against Arsenal. He is in the company of Theo Walcott and Morgan Schneiderlin, in this respect.
Andre Gomes will not play again this season and both Cuco Martina and Jean-Philippe Gbamin are doubtful head of the trip to Newcastle.
Predicted XI: Pickford; Coleman, Mina, Holgate; Sidibe, Sigurdsson, Delph, Digne; Bernard; Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.
Everton come into this game unbeaten in four and under new management, but they face a Newcastle side that have not lost at home since the opening day of the season.
St James Park has been a fortress for the Magpies during the campaign so far and despite Everton’s upturn in form, it will be a tough ask for Ancelotti to take all three points for the second game in a row on Saturday.
Scoreline prediction: Newcastle 2-2 Everton