Everton and Newcastle come head-to-head on Monday night at Goodison Park.
Both clubs are expected to be amongst the teams challenging for the top six of the Premier League this season. I expect the game to be a tight encounter.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew rather cheekily claimed last season that Newcastle were in a different league to the Toffees.
That statement was made prior to the Magpies being hammered 3-1 at Goodison Park on the last game of last season.
It was quite naïve of the Toon boss to make comments like that, especially as Newcastle had been the surprise team of the season and the previous season had been a midtable team.
Alan Pardew’s always been confident in his own managerial abilities, even if the fans of the clubs he has managed haven’t. He has done a good job on Tyneside, but he has this habit of shooting himself in the foot when things are going well.
Both Everton boss David Moyes and Magpies Pardew have very good teams and I don’t think there is a major gulf in their first choice line-ups. If you were to compare both teams it would very hard to decide which team has the strongest starting eleven.
A similarity between the clubs is their ability to spend money wisely. Last January was the perfect example of how the two clubs operate. They both managed to bring in strikers that made a massive influence on their teams.
Newcastle brought in Senegal striker Papiss Demba from Bundesliga club Freiburg for £9million and Everton signed Croatian international Nikica Jelavic from Rangers for a fee in the region of £5.5million.
Both strikers hit the ground running and ended up as two of the signings of the season. Everton purchased Jelavic from the proceeds of the sale of Russian midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
Newcastle used some of the money they received from the £35million sale of Andy Carroll the previous January to sign Cisse. Neither club can afford to spend beyond their means, but both still stay competitive.
One department were Newcastle probably have the edge is in the attacking players available to their boss. If Jelavic gets injured then the Toffee’s don’t have the best of back-up in the striking department, although new signing Kevin Mirallas could prove to be a shrewd signing.
Newcastle has more of a strike partnership in Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse. Mirallas may get become Jelavic’s strike partner in time, but at the moment the Belgium international is just finding his feet in a new country and league.
Newcastle is currently going through a mini injury-crisis at the moment. They have defensive problems with full-back Ryan Taylor and centre-back Fabricio Coloccini both set to miss the trip to Goodison.
The Magpies will also be without keeper Tim Krul, who has become a key player for Newcastle. The Dutchman is likely to be replaced by perennial understudy Steve Harper in-between the sticks.
Everton heads into the game without Irish midfielder Darron Gibson, who could be out for a month. The former-Manchester United ace has been superbly consistent since joining the Toffee’s and will be badly missed in the centre of the field.
I think this season will prove that there is very little difference in the quality of the Everton and Newcastle squads. They are certainly not in different leagues as Alan Pardew claimed last season.
Tomorrow’s game will no doubt be a very close encounter. Newcastle in a different league to Everton, don’t make me laugh MR Pardew.
Is there a huge gulf between Everton and Newcastle?