David Moyes has sympathy with Wednesday’s opponents Newcastle United, a side who have struggled to replicate their form of last season.
Like Everton have experienced in their previous adventures into Europe, Alan Pardew’s Magpies have found the going tough in their bid to balance progression in the Europa League with maintaining their place in the upper echelons of the Premier League.
Speaking ahead of the trip to St James’ Park, Moyes said: “I think when you are in that Europa League and you have Premier League games as well – and we have been in that position ourselves – it affects your season.
“Everybody will probably agree that they are surprised Newcastle haven’t done a little bit better. When you take into consideration the Europa League and Premier League games, it can take its toll in the first three or four months of the season.
“People will think it’s just a game on a Thursday and a game on a Sunday but it is very hard to explain. Once you have the group games out of the way it becomes a little bit easier.
“But Alan has got a good team and he showed it last season. They might be a bit like Everton and improve in the second half of the season and still find themselves in a lofty position.”
Everton have the chance to right the wrongs of two dropped points when Newcastle twice came from behind to snatch a point in the reverse fixture back in September, not that that has been on the minds of the players, however.
“You don’t think back too much about the first game,” admitted Moyes. “At the moment we are in a run of games and we just think about getting ready and going into the next game. We haven’t really looked back, but we felt we lost the equaliser and we should have done better.”
Newcastle have lost half of their 20 Premier League games this season, including the most recent matches at Manchester United and Arsenal where they conceded a combined total of 11 goals.
Nevertheless, Moyes is expecting a response from the Magpies and is wary that his side must be on their game if they are to return from the North East with a positive result.
“It’s always been a tough game at St James’ Park and I’ve never known it any other way,” he added.
“You go up to a club that obviously has a fantastic fan-base and we know it’s going to be very hard.
“I want the team to try and continue to do what they have been doing. They know I can be tough with them and be a bully because I want results from them. But I trust them and they need to keep playing the way they have been. If they do that they will win more than they lose.”