Sunday, 28 December 2014

5 things we learned from Newcastle v Everton

Newcastle eased the pressure on manager Alan Pardew on Sunday with a 3-2 victory over Everton that ended a four-match losing streak in all competitions.
With Moussa Sissoko and Cheick Tiote excellent in midfield Newcastle dominated the second half but should be thankful the visitors did not add to Kevin Mirallas’s late strike.

Still, should Papiss Cisse have been sent off? And where do Everton go now with a growing injury list? Let’s take a look at what we learned.

Newcastle start slowly and peak late once more

19 matches into the season Newcastle still haven’t scored in the first half an hour of a Premier League match. Surely this is the kind of statistic that will come back to haunt the Geordies. Still, once Cisse cancelled out Arouna Kone’s opener - his first goal since joining Everton in August 2013 - a clever finish from Ayoze Perez and a chip from Jack Colback put Newcastle ahead in the second half. Despite Mirallas making it 3-2 the hosts still created chances through Perez and Sissoko, while they have now scored 62% of their league goals in the last 30 minutes of play.

Cisse was lucky to stay on the pitch

The Senegal international was a nuisance all match, dropping deep to provide flick-ons and also equalising with an acrobatic half-volley after Michael Williamson returned a cross from the right. Still, he should have been sent off when he appeared to elbow Seamus Coleman in Everton’s penalty area. Referee Craig Pawson, who couldn’t have missed the incident, took no action but the Football Association could punish the forward even if Pawson doesn’t mention the event in his post-match report.

Pardew can take heart from Rolls-Royce midfield

Unruly strikers aside, Pardew will take a lot of pride from his midfielders’ performances. The former Crystal Palace player started as a leading candidate to take up the manager’s spot at Selhurst Park but if he stays in the north-east, Sissoko will be crucial to Pardew’s revival. The French international’s through-balls set alarm bells ringing all match and he now boasts a 79% pass completion rate over the course of the season. Tiote was also productive with two assists, while the ever-improving Colback put his side in front like a predatory centre-forward, finishing with the outside of his boot.

Martinez needs fringe players to improve – and quickly

With seven changes made from Friday’s 1-0 reverse to Stoke, when goalkeeper Tim Howard and centre-back Phil Jagielka both went off injured, it was always going to be a tough ask for Roberto Martinez’s Everton side. Joel Robles in goal failed to command his area at corners while left-back Luke Garbatt, at 21-years-old making his first Premier League appearance, played with adventure despite losing the ball on occasion.  Because of other long-term absentees such as Steven Pienarr, these players need to step up particularly if Martinez keeps his job throughout the January transfer window.

Ross Barkley is still maturing as a player

As if five losses in seven league games wasn’t bad enough, the Everton boss has also been criticised recently for playing Ross Barkley on the wing, stifling his ability to open pockets of space and thread balls through. The 21-year-old thrives when driving from the centre-circle but has struggled this season after returning from a disappointing World Cup with England. Barkley sliced a clearance into Colback’s path for Newcastle’s second and he was overrun in midfield by the combative Sissoko. It’s times like these when Martinez needs his big players, especially Barkley, firing on all cylinders.
By Alistair Hendrie


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