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Opinion

3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Newcastle 3 Everton 2

2 months ago
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Saturday finished Newcastle 3 Everton 2.

Rafa’s players picking up their fifth St James Park Premier League win in a row.

This follows victories over Cardiff, Man City, Huddersfield and Burnley.

Ahead of each match we ask one of our writers to come up with 3 positives and 3 negatives after the final whistle.

This time it is Jack Lacey-Hatton:

POSITIVES

We came from behind- at last

A win today would have been huge whatever the circumstances, but to do so after being 2-0 down, made it a humongous moment in the season, it might even top the Man City game as the match of the year.

The only critique of this side over the past few months (the city game aside) is that when the opposition score first we can look lost and struggle to earn our way back into games.

The signing of Almiron has undoubtedly helped, even at two down he was a constant spark, always offering an option. Rondon’s ability as a target man also means we can gain much needed territory when behind, which today got the crowd right behind the team and into the fight.

As comfortable as the wins over Burnley and Huddersfield were, today felt like a bigger win because we had been in a real scrap of a game. The fighting spirit shown out there today is exactly what is needed when you in are in a survival battle. If they show as much fight over the next few weeks we may hit the magic 40-point mark sooner than you think.

I have just seen, today was the first time we have come back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, since Fulham away in 2003/04 – wow!

The Shelvey impact

I am open to admitting, I am not Jonjo Shelvey’s biggest fan. #

As an overall package to be relied upon over the course of a season, the former Swansea man is often more trouble than he is worth.

Not even the biggest critic of Shelvey though can underestimate his ability to influence a game when his side is behind. Today he was a game changer from the bench.

Immediately it felt like Everton were far more nervy at the back and willing to drop off an extra few yards of space, which played into Rondon’s hands perfectly. We suddenly were able to get a grip of things in midfield, and as resulted put far more pressure on the Everton backline. Ki Sung-yeung had one of his more forgettable games, certainly with set-pieces, so Shelvey’s impact was even more pronounced.

This is exactly what Rafa has been crying out since we were promoted- to have real options on the bench. He had them today and shuffled the pack brilliantly, turning 0 points into 3.

If Jonjo in particular can kick on and produce his best form in the last few months of the season, Rafa’s midfield options look much better in the absence of Sean Longstaff.

The forward line

Whilst once again at home, the entire outfit worked tirelessly, the front three of Rondon flanked by Perez and Almiron deserves special praise.

A real understanding and fluency between the forwards has been evident in recent weeks and once again today they caused the opposition countless problems. Seeing how well Almiron has gelled with the other two gives us real optimism for the rest of the season, that we will be able to get goals against anyone that comes to SJP.

Perez will get the headlines and rightly so but they really should be seen as a trio at the moment.

The additional celebrations between Ayoze and Rondon after the winning goal, a sign of players getting on with each other, both on and off the pitch. The link up play seen in the past few weeks is something not seen by a front three at NE1, since the heady spring days of 2012 when Cisse, Ba and Ben Arfa were surging past defences and giving us a remarkable push for European football.

Let’s hope all three stay fit and in-form until the end of the season.

NEGATIVES

Everton weren’t that great and still got a 2-0 head-start

It’s very hard to point to any negatives after such an incredibly uplifting afternoon on Barrack road, but if I have to pick holes…

The main part from the first half that disappointed me, was the fact that Everton were not even playing at all well and yet were still two-nil up.

Obviously, I do accept the Ritchie penalty miss was a major factor in this, but even so it was disappointing how easily they found two goals, when we have been pretty defensively sound for the most part since Christmas.

It felt like Everton had barely tested our backline when they made their way forward for the opener from Calvert-Lewin. The second, although controversia, also showed how exposed we were in midfield to the counter-attack, perhaps directly related to the absence of Sean Longstaff, who has been so effective at breaking up opposition play.

The fact Everton were so average in the first half, yet still found themselves two goals to the good, could be seen as both negative and positive. If nothing else, it shows we are not actually that far away from them and it would be nice to think that if Benitez stays for next season we might be aiming to finish above them. Even this season, after today they are only three points ahead of us, it could be a target for us.

The referee was woeful

At least the incompetence of Lee Mason and his assistants actually vented up crowd anger and noise, to help the players onto the storming comeback of the second half.

In the first period the man in middle was so bad it almost threatened to ruin the game. It seemed he bottled the sending off of Jordan Pickford for the penalty, that ‘challenge’ would have been more at home in the Six Nations than the Premier League.

Then Mason inexplicably failed to stop the game for a head injury when we had a player down, when Everton went onto score the second goal. Even if you ignore the bad judgement calls he got wrong, to not stop play for a head injury is just a basic disregard for the rules.

How Pickford escaped a yellow card for timewasting was another shambles from the referee.

Everton could also have a right to moan with a number of contentious 50/50 calls towards the end of the game going our way. Marco Silva certainly showed his frustration with Mason at full-time. I hate it when fans criticise referees for no reason but today unfortunately the question marks were more than deserved.

The worst refereeing display I have seen in a long time at St James’. At least it wound up the crowd so much we became the 12th man. Perhaps the fact that the officials were booed off the pitch at both half and full-time says enough.

Lascelles injury

Although ironically his substitution prompted a move to a back four, which in turn helped us get back in the match, the injury to Jamaal Lascelles is perhaps the only real downside to an otherwise brilliant day.

It’s never nice to see the captain injured, particularly when he had looked in good touch at the start of the game, and made a number of important tackles when Everton tried to build down the right wing. I still think the back three of him, Schaar and Lejune is one of our strongest assets as a team, and if he was missing for a long period it would be a blow (even with our current strength in depth at centre back).

As a leader he has been excellent since he returned to the team and I do often think his communication and organisational skills are underrated.

With Longstaff being sidelined with injury last week, it feels like the squad could be put under a bit more strain towards the end of the campaign. Hopefully our skipper is back sooner rather than later.

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Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 3 Everton 2

Goals:

Newcastle:

Rondon 65, Perez, 81, 84

Everton:

Calvert-Lewin 18, Richarlison 32

Possession was Everton 54% Newcastle 46%

Total shots were Everton 7 Newcastle 19

Shots on target were Everton 3 Newcastle 7

Corners were Everton 2 Newcastle 8

Referee: Lee Mason

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles (Dummett 45), Lejeune, Ritchie (Kenedy 73),  Hayden, Ki (Shelvey 79), Almiron, Perez, Rondon

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Joselu, Diame, Manquillo

Crowd: 52,242 (Everton 3,000)

(Excellent match analysis from Matt Le Tissier – Read HERE)

(Alan Shearer perfect reaction to stunning Newcastle 3 Everton 2 comeback HERE)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 3 Everton 2 – HERE)

(Outrageous from Marco Silva as he blames match officials for Newcastle 3 Everton 2 – Read HERE)

(Just have a look at Jordan Pickford’s face after the final whistle – See HERE)

You can follow the author on Twitter @JackLaceySport

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