Everton opened up in a 4-2-3-1 with Drenthe and Coleman tasked with pressing Newcastle’s fullbacks to cut out the supply line to their wingers. Heitinga was given the nod to continue in defence despite Distin being fit. Newcastle deployed their orthodox 4-4-2 with Marveaux pitched in on the right and Guthrie keeping his place with Tiote on the sidelines.
A calamitous start for the Blues and specifically Jonny Heitinga who put through his own net following a communication breakdown with Tim Howard. This meant that for the 10th game running the Blues had failed to keep a clean sheet. Again the source was from a cross, this time Simpson was allowed time and space to whip in from the right and the Dutchman miscued into his own net. With the momentum Newcastle currently have, giving them such a gimee goal was criminal.
3.Newcastle defending from front
Newcastle’s work ethic and organisation was there for all to see. Best and Ba led from the front throughout and it was this pressing that led to goal number two. Ba chased down a Jageilka back pass leading to Howard making a rash kick into touch due to Ba’s pressure. From the subsequent throw in Ryan Taylor was able to take flight and plunder an unstoppable half volley into the top corner. Ba won more headers than any Newcastle player and you really wonder why Distin didn’t start given the aerial presence Ba brings to the table and the fact our other key men in terms of aerial duels (Cahill & Fellaini) were not able to start due to injury and suspension.
Our approach was to try and expose Newcastle’s high -ish defensive line with long balls over the top from Jagielka aimed between Ryan Taylor and Coloccini. In total Jags made 24 long passes. To put that into context Colocinni hit 7 and was Newcastle’s biggest user of the long ball. Jags hit a 45% accuracy with these punts and to be fair some of them were pinged really well – notably putting Saha clear 1 on 1 with Krul (above) which the Frenchman wasted - albeit the ball was on his weaker right foot. In total we made 100 passes more than Newcastle and played more passes into their 18 yard box.
Danny Simpson may have the standard issue EPL tattoo sleeve but his awareness is distinctly championship level. The former Man Utd ressie’s slack defending gave us a way back into the game on the stroke of half time when he allowed Rodwell to run off him and dart a great header into Krul’s net from a superb Drenthe delivery. This was during our best spell of the game either side of halftime, with Saha hitting a post and then Gosling blatantly handling Saha’s goal bound shot after the break.
In the first half Jack Rodwell was amongst our top performers, finding time and space to link defence to attack pinging 23 passes in the process, scoring a goal and going close with another header. In the second half though Pardew seemed to instruct his charges to press him more and for his strikers to cut off the angles for Everton’s defenders to feed him. They did so superbly. Rodwell was completely anonymous in the second period, making a feeble 7 passes and not getting anywhere near the opposition goal.
In recent games we have not been creating lots of chances but you couldn’t level that at Moyes men in this fixture. Our creativity and passing incision was good with 60% of our chances coming inside Newcastle’s 18 yard box compared to Newcastle’s 33%. Again Drenthe was our most creative player, laying on 3 chances for team mates. Our finishing though was anything but clinical – Saha hit the post but missed when clean through, whilst Drenthe should have done better with another chance.
8. Coleman CANNOT play left wing
Moyes tactic of switching his wide men had limited results. The Irishman’s poor first touch is often exposed when defenders press him – compare this to last week against Man Utd who regularly stood off him and allowed him to run at them. He struggled over on the left especially when Gutierrez moved over to that side of the pitch. Moyes surely can’t make this mistake again as it was painful to watch at times. Drenthe and Coleman both made some really hash tackles at times when it would have been better to jockey, committing a total of 7 fouls.
9. Attack v Defence
The last 30 minutes was basically an attack v defence exercise. Buoyed by the goal we set out to get the equaliser whilst Newcastle had retreated a fair bit and seemed intent on holding what they had, confident their well drilled backline would repel whatever we threw at them. They played 2 banks of four in close proximity and closed the space down well.
10. Final thought
Overall this was a frustrating day at the office for the Blues. We created plenty of chances but it was a familiar tale of woe in terms of missed opportunities. The league table makes grim reading but we are only 3 points worse of than this stage last season when we took 7th spot in the final standings. Credit to Newcastle, they didn’t create much but their defensive setup as a team was heroic and despite what the media may say they deservedly sit 3rd in the table.
For a non biased and informative view on the game from a Newcastle perspective check out the tactical gurus over at Leazes Terrace for their post match analysis.