The Best Newcastle v Everton Tactics, Stats & Analysis
Newcastle v Everton Match Report
Newcastle United 0 Everton 3 Tuesday 25 March 7.45pm
After a last gasp winner, and all round solid but unspectacular performance, against Crystal Palace. Newcastle United had, believe it or not, won three of their last four games going into the midweek game against Champions League chasing Everton.
Under Roberto Martinez the Merseyside club have a new passing philosophy, one that has Toon fans looking at them with envious eyes, especially considering two seasons ago manager Alan Pardew said the Magpies were “on another level” to Everton.
Despite impressing in his half an hour burst on the weekend, Hatem Ben Arfa still had to settle for a place on the bench, as Pardew named an unchanged 11 for the third game in a row. The Newcastle manager sticking with the out of form Yoann Gouffran on the left wing on loan striker Luuk De Jong, yet to score in a Newcastle shirt.
Despite pressure from some areas to give Massadio Haidara a oopurtunity at left back, Pardew stuck with Paul Dummett, who hasn’t impressed but hasn’t put too many feet wrong either. An ongoing injury to Mathieu Debuchy means Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa continued at right back.
Everton meanwhile named a 4-2-3-1 with Ross Barkley, slowly returning to form after his toe break, playing in the number 10 role. Romelu Lukaku continued up front with Gareth Barry and James McCarthy in midfield. Unlike Newcastle, the Toffees had their first choice full backs in the starting line up – Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman have attracted considerable plaudits this season for both their attacking and defensive work.
EARLY TOON PRESSURE
Despite being a man less in midfield, Newcastle started well and looked very dangerous. Early on Papiss Cisse showed his improving hold up play to bring down a long ball and play square to Gouffran. He passed to Sissoko, who had drifted central – as he did throughout the match to help Cheick Tiote and Vurnon Anita in the crucial midfield battle.
Shortly afterwards, a corner from Dummett saw both Cisse and Gouffran denied by terrific blocks near the goal line with scarcely two minutes played. Gouffran had a bit of a nightmare in the first few minutes, having his shot saved, missing his kick badly when afforded time in the box and then giving the ball away badly in the centre of midfield (another example of the wingers drifting inside). He hasn’t scored since Boxing Day and his confidence, it would seem, is suffering.
Soon after Everton settled into their passing rhythm. They exploited their extra man in midfield by frequently switching the play from left to right and forcing Sissoko and Gouffran into their wide defensive duties. This let one of either Barry, Barkley or McCarthy have time on the ball.
Newcastle attempted to press the ball high up the pitch, with Anita following Barry when the former Manchester City man went deep to pick up the ball. Everton’s centre backs, however, were both very comfortable on the ball and rarely looked like giving the ball away (bar when John Stones had had his severe bang on the head).
Newcastle’s first real counter attack saw Coleman make a heroic tackle and from the resulting corner, somehow, Everton scored. Ross Barkley somehow running all the way from the halfway line and scoring without having to break a single tackle. The run was good and Newcastle were badly caught out, captain Fabricio Collocini slipping at the fatal moment before Barkley finished with aplomb. By the 25th minute Newcastle had six shots to Everton’s two but both of the Toffees’ were on target, whereas none of the Newcastle ones were.
Soon after, Everton were dominating possession, passing around Newcastle with ease and Newcastle’s press, halfway through the first half, looked lethargic.
EVERTON’S FULL-BACKS DOMINATE
When you’re blessed as Everton are with two accomplished fullbacks like Coleman and Baines, you have to pressure them into defensive duties and get them running with their back to goal. Forced to come inside too often, neither Sissoko or Gouffran managed to seriously threaten either of them – the former did do a better job trying, forcing Baines to make a monumental eight tackles. Given the fact Barcelona loanee Gerard Deolofeu made almost no defensive contribution (just one interception) Gouffran should have done more going forward but his primary concern was defending rather than creating. Osman on the other wing made six tackles and two interceptions as he regularly helped his defence out.
With Everton dominating so much from the wide areas, the sheer number of corners for Everton (six in the opening 20 minutes) should come as no surprise.
Having done well to limit Everton to just two shots on target in the first half, Newcastle failed to settle after half time whereas Everton picked up where they left off, passing the ball about well.
Newcastle knew the most direct threat was Deulofeu and attempted to double up on him but through his dribbling and fast feet he still managed to isolate Dummett – the youngster made four tackles but still looked overwhelmed at times.
Early in the second half the Magpies lack of a number 10 became more apparent. De Jong, who held the ball up well, was often given no choice but to pass the ball backwards with very few players making a run beyond him (Cisse was generally beyond him from the start and easily marked by one of Everton’s centre backs).
Deulofeu found himself in space in the 52nd minute with a wicked first touch to get Dummett scrambling to recover. The winger coolly crossed for Lukaku to dispatch into the back of the net. While not really finding themselves under considerable pressure, Newcastle were 2-0 down and had failed to create any clear cut chances. Soon after, Tiote, after dispossessing McCarthy, could have played either striker in but chose to blast the ball straight down Howard’s throat.
Perhaps unfairly – he had done his job holding the ball up very well – De Jong was hooked soon after Everton’s second goal with Ben Arfa replacing him. Gouffran would perhaps have been the more adventurous choice but Pardew was clearly loathe to lose his defensive work rate, especially with Deulofeu consistently on the prowl. Ben Arfa initially played on the right, with Sissoko moving more central.
Everton adapted well to the change (the midfield became a diamond with Barry sitting in front of his back four) and quickly looked more down the left, taking advantage of Ben Arfa’s poor defensive work rate. Osman really came alive in the last 30 minutes with 46% of Everton’s attacks coming down that side by the end of the game. Gouffran and Ben Arfa did switch sides but with both of Everton’s full backs in such good form, it did not help.
Newcastle looked a bit more threatening but as they sent more men forward to look for a lifeline back into the game, so Everton’s counter attack danger became more apparent. Ben Arfa didn’t have quite the impact his manager would have liked, he made five dribbles but only managed one key pass – which was badly fluffed by Anita after a wonderful dribble. He at least presented a direct danger (rather than crossing/long balls), something Newcastle lack without him.
Sylvain Marveaux came on for Yanga-Mbiwa in an ambitious change in the 75th minute. Anita went to right back to accommodate him but Marveaux’ 15 minute performance was anonymous. No key passes, no tackles, no shots and was dispossessed once, he looked utterly out of confidence.
Everton on the other hand were so comfortable, Martinez didn’t need to make a change until the 82nd minute. Steven Naismith replaced Ross Barkley as Everton looked to secure their three points. Five minutes later Deulofeu combined with Lukaku to set up Osman for the third and it was game over.
Once again Newcastle failed to set the world alight going forward (16 shots but just two on target – one of those a very lazy shot by Mike Williamson) and were punished with some clinical finishing by Everton (eight shots to six shots on target is a very healthy ratio).
Tiote did everything he could to stop Newcastle’s two man midfield being swarmed. The Ivorian racked up 91 touches, the most of any player on the pitch and made five tackles. He managed to restrict himself to two attempted goal of the season candidates and made two interceptions and two clearances. He also helped ease pressure at times by drawing three fouls.
Playing a 4-4-2 formation the advantage is supposed to be width, but the Magpies failed to make enough from either wing, with Distin and Stones coping well in the air to most of the 27 crosses. Everton by contrast only crossed 17 times.
Newcastle’s defence couldn’t cope with Deulofeu on the right for large portions of the game (Everton attacked down his side 39% of time in the first half – targeting Dummett). After half time the Magpies attempted to double up on him but that only allowed Lukaku more space (something he exploited easily for his team’s second goal). The striker’s hold up play was also first rate – for a lone striker to not get dispossessed once just shows his strength on the ball.
Southampton this weekend are another team more than competent in possession (and likely to play three in midfield) – Newcastle can’t attempt the same tactics again, it will more than likely end in defeat and a crucial loss in the ‘race for eighth’.
Newcastle: Krul, Mapou (Marveaux 74), Coloccini, Williamson, Dummett, Sissoko, Tiote, Anita, Gouffran (Shola 90+1), De Jong (Ben Arfa 57), Cisse
Unused Subs: Elliot, Gosling, Haidara, Steven Taylor
Ref: Lee Mason
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