Everton vs. Newcastle: 5 Storylines to Monday Night's Game
On Monday night, the Sky Sports cameras make their second trip to Goodison Park this season, as the Toffees play host to Newcastle.
Having triumphed over Manchester United the last time they played to a national audience, David Moyes will be hoping his team experience similar fortunes this time around.
As this season progresses, both sides will intend to manoeuvre their way into European contention, and each manager will have highlighted this game as a key fixture in achieving that aim.
Even at this stage, a win against a positional rival could well prove decisive, come the final standings.
Away from consuming what should be an absorbing game, here are five storylines to keep an eye on as Monday's spectacle unfolds.
Are Newcastle Still in a Different League
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Naturally, this incensed all those connected to the Toffees, and sufficiently roused, they went on to produce one of their most convincing displays of the season, running out deserved 3-1 winners.
Perhaps not wholly satisfied and still uncomfortable with Pardew's notion, Everton ensured his quotes once again resurfaced in various media outlets this week—with Phil Jagielka and former manager Howard Kendall both referring to them (via the Liverpool Echo).
Clearly remarks that riled the home dressing room, Monday's game provides Everton with another chance to extinguish these condescending words.
This time, with a national audience on hand to act as jury.
Jelavic or Cisse?
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Monday's game will showcase two attacks spearheaded by a pair of clinical finishers, who between them managed an impressive 22 goals in just 27 league games last season.
Nikica Jelavic and Papiss Cisse were both instant successes after their January moves, and so much of their clubs' current ambition already rests on them maintaining their initial form.
For anyone debating exactly which is the more savvy acquisition and which deal represents the better value, Monday gives the football public a chance to judge these two predators competing on the same pitch.
Whichever is given more space, or found more often, may well determine which side takes the points.
A Potential Dan Gosling Cameo
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Mention the name Dan Gosling to an Evertonian and most will only shake their head in despair.
Two years ago, he was one of England's brightest products. In and around the Toffees starting lineup, he was involved in the national setup at the under-21 level and having scored a memorable Merseyside derby winner, he was serenaded by Everton fans at every opportunity.
It seemed his career was only going one way.
Fast forward two years and he is now suddenly at the bottom of Alan Pardew's midfield pecking order, having started just one game in his two years away from Everton.
With his agent managing to find a loophole in his contractual situation, which allowed him to speak to other clubs, Gosling chose to accept a better wage packet at Newcastle and leave the club that had helped nurture him through to Premier League standard.
Had he remained at the Toffees, he certainly would have been a far more prominent performer, and given this year's FA Cup semifinal team, it's not an unreasonable assumption to suggest he would have started at Wembley.
One wonders if he still appreciates the extra money his agent found him.
Ahead of Monday's game, Newcastle are suffering a mini injury crisis, increasingly the likelihood of Gosling actually being involved at some stage.
An unused substitute in last season's contest, should he get an opportunity to feature this time, it would be his first appearance back on Goodison Park turf. If so, expect a mixed reaction from a once revering crowd.
Can Newcastle Suppress Everton's Left?
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When Newcastle visited Goodison Park back in May, Steven Pienaar produced one of his finest displays in an Everton jersey, continuously linking up with Leighton Baines down the Toffees' left.
Down a few bodies, Alan Pardew was forced to use James Perch as his right-back, and with Hatem Ben Arfa rarely venturing back to support his teammate in defence, Pienaar and Baines were at their potent best, attacking at will.
For Monday's game, Newcastle have similar personnel dilemmas, with several players returning from international duty unavailable for the tie.
Danny Simpson looks as though he could be one of those sidelined, so Pardew will again be toying with the idea of using Perch at right-back, although surely he will be given a little more help in front of him this time.
If sides can limit Everton's effectiveness on the left, the Toffees often struggle to penetrate sides. Once again, the dynamics in this half of the field should prove key in determining the outcome.
Are Either Side Champions League Material?
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With Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea looking like favourites to land the top three spots this season, Everton and Newcastle will quietly be hoping to disrupt Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool in the quest for fourth.
Essentially, these five teams are in their own division, with the three more favoured sides all experiencing a rebuilding process, with new managers and integral squad members recently off-loaded.
Monday's clash should indicate which of these two outsiders are best equipped to make a run for the Champions League or whether the gap is still too far for them.
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