Home comforts suit Everton

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Chris Brunskill/Getty ImagesEverton players celebrate during the home win over Chelsea this month.

Moving on from midweek disappointment in the League Cup, when Everton dominated one half and crumbled in the other, thoughts switch to league football on Monday night. The hosts are looking to extend their unbeaten status while the visitors, Newcastle, seek to rectify a record of one win in 10 at Everton.

After back-to-back trips to London offered mixed fortunes, the comforts of L4 provide welcome relief for a team attempting to move into the top four, albeit with the season still taking shape.

Nonetheless, though this season may be too early, Everton will have eventual designs on the top four, and one of the fundamental requirements in this quest is reliable home form. More often than not, the teams in the upper reaches of any division are those with consistent form on their own turf.

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Everton boasted such form in the last campaign, with 12 wins, six draws and a solitary defeat, but a meagre return of four away wins cancelled out the home results. Providing a grim level of context, relegated Wigan mustered more victories on the road last season (five).

While needing to improve on their travels, there is no doubting the strength of Everton at Goodison. The last visiting team to win on Merseyside was Chelsea in December 2012, which is the only defeat for Everton in their last 25 home league fixtures.

Prior to Chelsea, Arsenal were the last team to win at Everton, and that was March 2012. Evidently, this pleasing form has existed for quite some time. Furthermore, the Blues are unbeaten in 11 since Frank Lampard inspired Chelsea to three points in December.

Although 11 unbeaten is no mean feat, Everton are a few matches shy of their home Premier League best -- 16 games without defeat between April 1999 and March 2000 -- while the overall club league record is a staggering 39 home matches from September 1961 to August 1963.

Overall, the results are highly commendable (aside from the Wigan aberration in the FA Cup) yet the most impressive aspect is the defensive record. Since Reading grabbed a late consolation on March 2, no visiting team has breached the Everton defence in the league.

This stretch comprises seven successive clean sheets and a total of 674 minutes without conceding. Opening the season in fine defensive form, Everton have already surpassed their previous Premier League best of consecutive home clean sheets from 1998-99 (five).

An added incentive for Newcastle's visit is the chance to extend this run, as Everton can equal their all-time league best of eight uninterrupted home clean sheets set in 1987-88. Ultimately, the Blues will want to build on a Chelsea win that was a seventh in eight home league matches.

Furthermore, as noted by manager Roberto Martinez on more than one occasion, there is something special about night matches at Everton. The Spaniard recently described Goodison under the lights as “unique” and the games the players “look forward to”.

After all, arguably the finest hour of this famous stadium materialised under the lights. Overcoming German giants Bayern Munich in 1985 en route to the European Cup Winners Cup, victory arose from Howard Kendall instructing his players to “Get the ball into their box and the Gwladys Street will suck the ball into the net."

Notwithstanding the propensity for resembling a morgue of late, Goodison remains a formidable environment when the supporters get behind the team. Backing the players against Chelsea, especially when attacking the Gwladys Street in the second half, more of the same can drive the team on against Newcastle.

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