Everton vs. Newcastle: Battles to Watch in Goodison Park Clash

Aidan ReynoldsContributor IIISeptember 30, 2013

Romelu Lukaku is fit to play against Newcastle (Image: Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Romelu Lukaku is fit to play against Newcastle (Image: Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Everton's home matches against Newcastle are usually close affairs that feature plenty of individual battles. This game promises to be no different, and also carries some extra weight for both teams.

For Roberto Martinez, he will be looking to rebound from defeat at Fulham, while Alan Pardew's men are seeking to reverse the ignominy of losing at home to Hull City Tigers last week.

Below are three battles that will be crucial to getting a result in this fixture.


Hatem Ben Arfa vs. Leighton Baines

Hatem Ben Arfa is the creative spark Newcastle rely on. Without him stretching the play on the right-hand side, the Magpies often resort to long balls and speculative crosses in the hope that Papiss Cisse can manufacture some quality.

With a striker as out of form as Cisse—despite his goal against Leeds in the Capital One Cup—cutting off Ben Arfa can often be all the opposition need to do to secure the win. The Toon defence looks fallible, so Everton will be confident of a goal. 

It therefore falls to Leighton Baines to nullify the threat of Ben Arfa. If Pardew sticks with the 4-3-3 he employed in the loss to Hull, Ben Arfa will have more freedom to create chances, but a more defensive strategy seems likely.

Baines will look to stop Ben Arfa cutting inside on his favoured left foot, as Hull did so effectively. This forces him to the margins of the pitch and allows the defence to frustrate him out of the game.


Romelu Lukaku vs. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa

Romelu Lukaku is likely to return to the side following his concussion suffered against West Ham. If he is fully fit, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is in for a tough time at centre-back. 

The young Frenchman has had a difficult start to the season and a rampant Lukaku is not going to help matters. He will need assistance from Fabricio Coloccini in the centre, as well as being careful not to make too many rash challenges.

Both Yanga-Mbiwa and Mathieu Debuchy have conceded unnecessary fouls as a result of poor tackling. With Lukaku running at them, the same thing could happen again.

Leighton Baines has been impressive with the dead ball this year, and he also scored a free kick at St. James' Park last year to seal the victory for Everton. He will be relishing the thought of another against a defence that has looked fragile this season.


Roberto Martinez vs. Alan Pardew

Since this is likely to be a tough battle, it's likely to be a tactical decision that turns the game. Pardew has come under fire for his tactics at Newcastle, as the team frequently look to defend after going a goal up, rather than attempt to kill off the opposition.

Against Chelsea, Martinez showed an admirable willingness to take control of the match. He allowed his players to play a free-passing game and look to create chances. It wasn't a case of shutting up shop and hoping for the best, but a confidence in his team to succeed.

Martinez has the edge here, as Pardew often looks unaware of what his team's best formation is, particularly away from home. There's a chance he'll run with a 4-4-2 setup and play to avoid defeat, but that would be unwise.

If Newcastle have a defensive mindset, Everton will pressure them out of the game. Pardew has to let Bne Arfa and Yohan Cabaye dictate the pace of the match and keep the Toffees pegged back.

It's likely to be decided as the game breaks down in the second half. If Newcastle can remain organised at the back they'll always have a chance going forward, but the feeling persists that Everton will be too strong for them.