Two important Barclays Premier League fixtures take place on the evening of Wednesday 4th January 2012, as Everton host Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United travel to Newcastle’s St James’ Park.
Everton v Bolton Wanderers – Kick-Off 20:00 GMT
Everton host fellow north westerners, Bolton, at Goodison Park in a match which the visitors need a result from: Bolton are currently bottom of the league, four points from safety; even a win would not see them lift out of the bottom three.
A win for Everton would see them rise once more above Sunderland and Norwich into the top half of the table in what has been something of a see-sawing season to date.
Everton’s problem this season has been goals – or lack thereof. They have the newly loaned USA star Landon Donovan available for the first time, though, which may add some impetus to their attack, though this is tempered by the likely omission of Marouane Fellaini and Seamus Coleman who are both injured.
Bolton will likely be without evergreen goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen: Adam Bogdan is set to deputise in Bolton’s net while their first choice number one is struggling with a thigh injury. Darren Pratley, who had been ill, is able to return in Wanderers’ midfield.
Just how this game will go score-wise is anyone’s guess, though Everton, with the better recent form, will be looking for a home win tonight. The Toffees look good for at least a one goal win, providing Bolton don’t show any improvement at Goodison Park.
Newcastle United v Manchester United – Kick-Off 20:00 GMT
Newcastle Utd v Man Utd has long been an entertaining fixture in the Premier League and, despite Newcastle’s recent relegation from and promotion back to the Barclays Premier League, this year’s fixture is no different, finding, as it does, the clubs in good, top-half form. Man Utd travel to St James’ Park in second place in the table, knowing that a win will see them draw level on points at the top of the league with neighbours Manchester City.
Newcastle, this term, have been a revelation, and are currently 7th in the league, largely thanks to the goalscoring prowess of Demba Ba.
Manchester United will be looking to get their season back on track after an aberration at then-bottom club Blackburn Rovers over the New Year, and, with Wayne Rooney likely to return to action (he missed the Blackburn match reportedly for disciplinary reasons) they will give Newcastle a stern task tonight.
Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling may also return for the visitors, which should help to shore up their defence, which has been below its usual best this season owing to a more open approach, and a lack of regular centre halves.
Newcastle will be without Danny Guthrie and Peter Lovenkrands who remain injured, though both players are expected to return to first team action soon.
Newcastle have not beaten Manchester United since 2001, though, and it looks unlikely that record will do anything but continue tonight, unless the Red Devils prove unable to shake off the post-Christmas lethargy they displayed at home to Blackburn.
Barclays Premier League 2011/12 Fixtures, Wednesday 4th January 2012
- Everton v Bolton – Kick-Off (GMT) 20:00
- Newcastle v Man Utd – Kick-Off (GMT) 20:00