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Newcastle United-Everton Preview

By CHRIS ALTRUDA

STATS Editor

(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Finally enjoying the fast star in the Premier League they've long sought, Everton try to keep the good times going Monday night at Goodison Park against an injury-ravaged Newcastle United side trying to plug multiple holes defensively.

Notorious for their slow starts in league play, the Toffees (2-0-1) have six points through three matches for the first time since 2007-08, when they also won two of their first three and accumulated 10 points through five matches before their first defeat. Despite going into the international break with a 2-0 loss at fellow upstarts West Bromwich Albion on Sept. 1, hopes are high Everton can finish the season qualifying for European play for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

"We have had a good start to the season, it's been brilliant," goalkeeper Tim Howard told the team's official website. "At the moment, we're scoring goals and winning games, but we're also putting in good performances. We now want to finish in the top six and get to Europe."

Turning Goodison Park into a fortress would be pivotal to realising such lofty goals. The Toffees have won five straight league matches at home, outscoring opponents 14-1 in that span. Their lone home match this season was a 1-0 victory over Manchester United and they closed last season with a 3-1 romp past Newcastle (1-1-1).

Magpies manager Alan Pardew knows his team will be in for a stern challenge against the in-form Toffees.

"They comfortably beat us at the back end last season and this will be a tough game for us," Pardew said. "It will be tough for everybody at Goodison Park, as Man United found out, so we've got a lot to do there. They have got some assets, in terms of defending and attacking.

"Everton is a very tough place to go and get yourself a victory, but that is what we will attempt to do."

Pardew may be lamenting his lack of assets in the back for this match. Goalkeeper Tim Krul, who ascended to be the No. 1 goalkeeper for the Netherlands, will miss at least the next two matches due to an elbow injury suffered in practice with the national team. Argentinian and talisman Fabricio Coloccini returned from South America with a hamstring knock, and both Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor were previously ruled out due to injuries.

"We've lost three of our back five who started the season, because Danny Simpson is injured too, so that's a significant blow for us," Pardew added.

The Toffees are not without injury woes, however. Midfielder Darron Gibson will not play due to a thigh strain suffered versus West Brom and is expected be sidelined three weeks.

"It is a concern for me because Darron has been very consistent and he's been very good," manager David Moyes told the team's official website. "It's a blow and it leaves us a bit short in that area but we'll have to find ways of getting around it."

It is uncertain if Bryan Oviedo will have a chance to fill that hole since the Costa Rican is still in the process of securing a work permit after Everton signed him on the transfer deadline day.

Newcastle are one goal shy of becoming the sixth team to score 1,000 in Premier League play. The first Magpies' goal was an own goal by Coventry's Peter Atherton in 1993, and Andy Cole became Newcastle's first player to tally in the ensuing match at Manchester United.

In two odd quirks, the all-time series between the teams is tied at 64 wins and 34 draws when cup play is included. Amazingly, the teams have each scored 244 goals in those matches.

Updated September 15, 2012

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