by Tom Allen
Everton are finishing the season strongly but look short enough to me to get
the better of Newcastle on Sunday.
While the majority of the attention during the final round of Premier League
fixtures will be on who claims the title and which of QPR or Bolton goes down,
Newcastle still have a decent chance of claiming a top four finish and I don't
think they'll get beat at Goodison Park.
A 2-0 home defeat to champions elect Manchester City last time out put the
breaks on Alan Pardew's side but they have enjoyed a magnificent campaign and
Champions League football next term is not completely out of reach just yet.
With rivals Arsenal and Tottenham facing tricky last day matches, against West
Brom and Fulham respectively, a win would give the Magpies every chance and,
while that might not be achievable against a resurgent Everton, the visitors
should be able to add to their overall tally by avoiding defeat.
Two points behind the Gunners and just one adrift of Spurs, the match on
Merseyside should be one of the more entertaining fixtures with the hosts eager
to finish above neighbours Liverpool and I expect both sides to find the net.
The Premier League's star man in 2012 has unquestionably been Newcastle striker
Papiss Cisse and, with 13 goals in as many top flight matches, he has been the
find of the second-half of the season.
A January signing from Freiburg, the Senegalese spearheads the north-east club's
attack superbly but Newcastle are far from a one-man team and have proven more
than capable on the road throughout the campaign.
Eight wins away from St James's Park is a terrific achievement, only the two
Manchester clubs have bagged more, and they should be able to cause problems to
an Everton defence that is vulnerable to pace.
A goalless draw at relegated Wolves last time out will have disappointed
David Moyes and it is actually just two wins in their previous seven Premier
I don't think they'll make it three and the Toffees could be struggling to
hold on to seventh place come the final whistle with Liverpool and Fulham
breathing down their neck.
2pts Back Newcastle-Draw (Double Chance, vs. Everton) @ 4/6 (Bet 365)