In recent years meetings between Everton and Newcastle have been thrillingly chaotic affairs, with goals aplenty and pragmatism in short supply.
The last six editions have all rewarded over 3.5 goals backers, with the winning side hitting three on four occasions and both sides netting at least twice in three of those games.
Despite this hectic history, the clubs’ latest meeting seems destined to snap the streak and under 2.5 goals looks a worthy investment at 3/4.
Everton’s defensive strength at Goodison Park is a major persuader. That is not a misprint.
After giving up 11 goals in their first three home league games they’ve conceded more than once on just one further occasion all season, when Tim Howard errors aided both Leicester strikes.
However, it’s unlikely impenetrability will form a platform for goals galore at the other end, with Leighton Baines’ participation in doubt. The England man is their leading assister, having authored more than twice as many setups as their next most proficient creator.
The Toffees’ opponents have found scoring on the road troublesome too, their October-November hot streak and the recent outlier at Hull aside, notching once or not at all in nine of their last ten outings beyond the confines of St James’ Park.
What had already proved troublesome for John Carver’s side will only be more so in the wake of Papiss Cisse’s suspension.
Despite missing the 3-0 win at Hull, Cisse has been responsible for three of the side’s last seven goals on their travels, dating back to the draw with Burnley in early December.
Defending has proven easier for the Magpies under Alan Pardew’s former assistant and they’ve given conceded once or less in five of their six games since he was permanently appointed.
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Everton are 83/100 favourites to milk the fixture for maximum points, with the draw 12/5 and Newcastle 100/30 for what would be only their third win in 12 games under Carver’s leadership.