If you brought out a set of balance scales, with one side representing high points this season; moments to bring back fond memories for the fans and the other side representing times when not everything went to plan; days the supporters probably want to forget, the latter side, when quizzed on both Everton and Newcastle's form this season, would almost drop off due to excessive weight. The only forces keeping it from doing so, would be Everton's ventures into Europe, paired with the Toon's temporary rise in form circa November.
But ponderous metaphor aside, these two really haven't had a lot to shout about this term, considering they both finished in the top 10 (The Toffees narrowly missing out on fourth) last season. If you reverse 12 months, Roberto Martinez's side were 23 points better off (via BBC Sport), fighting Arsenal for a Champions League spot, while Newcastle were drifting calmly into mid-table obscurity.
Back into the present, the Merseyside outfit sit in a miserable 14th spot, with just a single, solitary league win in their last 10 outings, while just south of Scotland, the Magpies began the first three months launching a vicious hate campaign at their deeply-execrated manager, Alan Pardew. While the misinterpreted antagonist, who is now doing a fine job at Crystal Palace, struggled to deal with the fury of 50,000 spectators, any whole-hearted performances inevitably vanished, forcing Mike Ashley to relieve the 53-year-old of his duties imminently.
Everton's last league game was a woeful 2-0 defeat, at the hands of Stoke City the week before last, where a long-range Victor Moses header and a Mame Biram Diouf second condemned the forlorn visitors to their 12th defeat of the season. Consolation followed this week however, as their spirited Europa League adventure continued with a Last 16 first-leg victory over Dinamo Kiev ensured that they maintained some of their credentials.
Newcastle are a side never far from controversy and they certainly lived up to that billing a week and a half ago, when a desperately undeserved defeat, courtesy of Tim Krul setting up new best friend Ashley Young with a minute to go, brought them their 11th loss of the campaign. The headlines were stolen in an extraordinary manner though, as Papiss Cisse was caught spitting at Jonny Evans, only for his defensive counterpart to return the viscous gift, resulting in heavy bans for both players.
The last time these two met this season, Newcastle triumphed in an exciting 3-2 at St. James' Park, with the aforementioned Cisse getting onto the scoresheet along with Ayoze Perez and Jack Colback, despite a late Everton fightback, courtesy of Arouna Kone and Kevin Mirallas.
Both injury/supension lists are almost as long as the respective Evans and Cisse bans, with Everton missing Gareth Barry, Steven Pienaar, Bryan Oviedo, Tony Hibbert and Aiden McGeady, while there are doubts concerning the trio of skipper Leighton Baines, John Stones and Leon Osman.
Their foes for this game are fairing no better however, with Cisse's shiny new suspension sitting him on the sidelines alongside the already-crocked quintuplet of Steven Taylor, Cheick Tiote, Massadio Haidara, Siem de Jong and Paul Dummett. The good news though, is that they can welcome back Jack Colback, Remy Cabella and Rob Elliot, all of whom missed the visit of Manchester United.