Fun Fact:  Everton have won only one more game than Newcastle United this season.  They’ve won a massive six games in 23 to our five.  The extra game being their 94th minute winner at St James’ Park of course on Boxing Day.  That wasn’t so fun.  Rob Elliot played well.  Mitrovic cost us points by missing at least one sitter and Everton picked up an important three points to move nine points clear of us at the time.  We meet now, just over a month later with Everton 8 points clear of the final relegation zone place which is of course occupied by us.  Therefore it’s another big game for Everton.  They’ve had a few recently.  Lose this and they’re in the shit a bit, just 5 points ahead of a terrible Newcastle United side.  It’s unlikely Everton will lose this game as they don’t lose many.  In fact, they’ve lost just 6 games this season. Only the top 6 have lost less and they’ve lost as many as Manchester United, who lie 5th.  Eleven draws is the massive problem for Everton.  They’re the opposite of NUFC – who either win (rarely) or lose (regularly).  Roberto Martinez is under pressure right now.  Everton are into the last 16 of the FA Cup and got to the league cup semi’s – things aren’t so bad.  Then again Everton fans aren’t happy so something is up.

Everton have scored an impressive 40 goals this season.  They’re good to watch.  They have a good team. However they Martinez1lose a lot of leads and should be higher in the league table.  A lack of investment is the accusation, yet Everton have a £28 million striker.  I’m not saying Everton fans are wrong.  The whole situation is just contradictory.  There seems to be a lot of unease about Goodison when there’s not a lot wrong.  Everton pull crowds of 38k on average.  They are in no danger of relegation and are still in the FA Cup…..I’d swap our position (and manager) for theirs.  Their team is also young.  John Stones is 21.  They turned down big money for him in the Summer. The club is run sensibly.  Yet anger remains in the stands.  Kenwirght and Martinez wouldn’t be missed by many.  So what is wrong at Everton?

I don’t have the answers, but I’d back them to beat United this Wednesday.  I’m still going.  £25 for a ticket and a do-able drive on a work night.  We’ve only taken the lower tier by the sound of it.  Why is it we get shafted more than most for ‘reachable’ away games being moved to mid-week.  Stoke, another I’d have done is almost in exactly a months’ time, on a Wednesday too.  Still there’ll probably be around 1,200 freezing cold mags to watch the lowest scoring side away from home in the football league.  The euphoria of the performance against West Ham was sufficiently punctured by McClaren who played an unnecessary, mental formation.  The team was playing well 4 4 1 1, and McClaren changed it to counter the threat of Deeney and Igahlo – who scored 4 goals between them against us in 3 games. Well done Steve.  Please lets go back to normal against this lot.

McClaren simply can’t set a team up away from home.  It was his downfall with England.  One goal and one point from Russia, Croatia and Israel away in qualifying. Or not qualifying as it turned out.  At Boro there were two seasons in which his sides scored 12 (twelve) goals in 19 away league games.  Twelve! His average away goals tally at Middelsborough was 17.  In 19 games.  It’s not good enough.  Newcastle United’s major problem last season was our away form.  We won just 3 out of 19 away games last season.  Only QPR managed less.  So who did Charnley and Carr hire to arrest this slump away from home?  The man who’s away record in England at the highest level is a disaster.  What a surprise we’re heading for relegation.

We are as well.  I’ve had people on twitter recently telling me that I’m exaggerating or attention seeking.  If that’s how you feel, the hour is later than you think.  There are 15 games left to play this season.  Two of them are this week alone.  We’re four points behind Swansea and Bournemouth.  Norwich play Vile at the weekend, so the chances are, even if we pick up 3 points this week.  We’ll still be in the relegation zone with Chelsea, Man City, Stoke and Leicester to come.  Three of those away from home.  How many points will we get from that lot? Four?  Six would be miraculous for a team that can’t score away from home, never mind win.  All of the other teams, bar Sunderland, play each other in the same period.  To reach 40 points NUFC need to win a minimum of 6 games. A minimum.  6 wins from 15 games including Everton away, Chelsea away, Stoke away, Leicester away, Southampton away, Liverpool away.  That’s 6 of our 15 games you’d have to be mental to predict NUFC winning.  It leaves 7 games, to get our 6 wins including Man City at home, Palace at home,  Spurs at home and the mackems at home.  Good luck with those 6 wins.

United, as I type, look to have failed in their bid to sign a recognised Premier League striker.  Remy, Gomis and Berahino all staying or moving elsewhere.  Townsend, like Shelvey is a welcome addition.  We lack pace as a side so teams feel comfortable pushing up high against us and squeezing the space our creative players so badly need, away from home especially.  As I said.

Good luck getting those 6 wins.

Prediction:  Everton 4 United 1

ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892