- (Photo: Reuters/Darren Staples)
Everton makes the trip to Newcastle to face the Magpies at St. James Park on Wednesday, which will serve as the first game in 2013 for both clubs.
Newcastle and manager Alan Pardew have had a rough go of it lately, losing eight of the club's last 10 matches. They will have a difficult time against Everton, who has emerged as a top club in the Premier League.
To help sure up a defense that has conceded 11 goals in the last two matches, including seven in their last match against Arsenal, Newcastle will welcome back central defender Mike Williamson after serving a 1-match ban.
However, the club will have to replace full-back Danny Simpson, who will be out for a number of weeks after he broke a toe in Saturday's match against Arsenal.
In addition to Simpson's absence, the Magpies will be without full-back Ryan Taylor and midfielders Vurnon Anita, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Dan Gosling and Haris Vuckic, who are all sidelined with injuries- that has helped facilitate Newcastle's recently poor performance.
The bad run for Newcastle has also intensified interest in striker Demba Ba, who has been contacted by several clubs- including Chelsea- during the January transfer window.
For Everton and manager David Moyes, their focus is squarely upon coming away with points on Wednesday, as the Toffees are in the running for European qualification even though the club lost 2-1 at home to Chelsea on Sunday.
Everton had been on a 7-match unbeaten streak and has shown to have a balanced attack and an organized back line, which helped them rise to the top half of the table. Moyes had stated that he feels his club is good enough to qualify for the UEFA Champions League this year, and will become better once a few key players return from injury.
Central defender Steven Taylor and midfielder Yohan Cabaye have returned to the training ground, but will not be available for match play for several more weeks.
Kickoff for the match is at 3:00 p.m. ET and can be watched online here.