Season starts now for new look Magpies
It’s almost as if we can forget what’s gone before for Newcastle this season as their battle to avoid relegation really does start now.
Their transfer business has been done, they’ve presumably had a nice winter break, and they now go into their final 17 games of the season without any cup distractions, just one point behind 17th-place Norwich with a game in hand.
The truth is, Eddie Howe‘s men really ought to stay up.
Newcastle arguably have one of the best squads in the bottom half of the table thanks mainly to the likes of star man Allan Saint-Maximin and top striker Callum Wilson, but also thanks to the additions of La Liga title winner Kieran Trippier and the highly thought of Brazilian international Bruno Guimaraes.
Add in deadline day signings Dan Burn and Matt Targett, plus the earlier capture of Chris Wood, and Newcastle now have a squad with a bit of depth and quality to it. There’s no way I’d want to back them at 2.56/4 in the Relegation market, put it that way.
My one concern for the Magpies however is that they might not be quite up to speed just yet. Trippier, Burn, Targett and Guimaraes were all signed to improve the starting XI, while Wood should also start here with Wilson still out injured.
Howe’s men will improve as the weeks go by, but I think it’s only fair that we shouldn’t expect an immediate upturn in results for a team that is likely to have exactly half of their outfield contingent playing together for the first time.
Fine start for Lampard
Even before kick-off the mood among the fans had completed changed inside Goodison Park prior to Everton’s FA Cup tie with Brentford on Saturday. And very much for the better.
A giant banner reading “Best of luck Frank” was draped from one of the stands and Frank – Lampard that is – himself received almost a heroes welcome as he emerged from the tunnel just before 3pm.
So it was perhaps no surprise then that Everton produced one of their best displays of the season, constantly on the front foot, and scoring four goals in a game for the first time this term. And all this from the same set of players who did very little under Rafa Benitez.
Never underestimate the power of a new manager bounce, especially when that new manager is warmly welcomed and completely changes the mood around the club.
In even better news for Everton and Lampard, both Donny van de Beek and Dele Alli are available to make their debuts on Tuesday night having had to sit out Saturday’s 4-1 win because of being cup-tied.
Whether Lampard starts his new signings we’ll have to wait and see. He may just want to go with the team that played some well against Brentford, though he’ll have to make at least one change as defender Ben Godfrey ended his afternoon on crutches.
Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is rated 50/50, though in his absence Richarlison is more than capable of playing as the main man up front and looks just the type of player who will receive a huge confidence boost by the change of manager.
Slight surprise at Magpies being favs
Newcastle are the favourites to take all three points, available to back at 2.77/4 in the Match Odds market, while Everton are trading at 2.8615/8 and the Draw at 3.55/2.
That price about a home victory looks a bit skinny to me given that Howe’s men have won just once at St James’ Park all season, that coming against rock-bottom Burnley.
And then there’s the obvious question mark about how well all the new faces will fit in. I expect Newcastle to be a better team in time, but this game might just be one game too soon.
Everton’s form is no better than Newcastle’s, make no bones about that, but at least we’ve already witnessed a massive improvement in performance from the Toffees under their new boss.
That could be crucial on Tuesday night, they’ll go into the game on a massive high and confident of putting on another good display against the Magpies.
At 2.8615/8 I’m happy to back Everton to take all three points.
Sulky Richarlison looks happy again
Lots of players get a new lease of life when a new manager arrives but I fancy Richarlison is one who will benefit more than most.
He’s a sulky character who gets down on himself when he’s not playing well, often resulting in him being substituted and throwing a strop.
But at his best, and when he’s happy, he is a player right of the top drawer who can cause any defence problems, and even more so a defensive line-up that will be playing as a unit for the very first time.
The 24-year-old has scored three in his last five games, mainly when Everton were out of form, and on Saturday he looked right back to his best, constantly causing the Brentford defence problems. He could easily have scored two or three.
He’s not a huge price by any means, but at 9/5 on the Sportsbook I fancy Richarlison will find the back of the net, and hopefully in an Everton win.