In terms of personnel, Martinez gave first home starts to Romelu Lukaku and James McCarthy with Jelavic and Naismith dropping out from the starting line-up at West Ham. Roughly the shape was 4-2-3-1 with a midfield triangle of Barry and McCarthy at the base and Barkley in the ‘number 10’ role. Leon Osman was shunted to the left but predominantly tucked in to enable us to dominate the middle ground.
Visiting manager Alan Pardew went like for like system wise with Tiote and Gouffran back in the side at the expense of Goodison fan’s favourite Yohan Cabaye and striker Papiss Cisse, Newcastle’s answer to Nikica Jelavic. Remy lined up down the middle with Ben Arfa the main attacking focus, predominantly from the left flank.
The first half belonged to Romelu Lukaku who bagged two goals and an assist to help steer the Blues into a zone where – we wrongly presumed – we’d be able to pretty much declare and rest up before the City game at the weekend.
As early as the first minute, Barkley and Lukaku’s pace and power combined to enable the Belgian to lash home from close range, but it was correctly disallowed for offside. It was a warning Newcastle failed to take note of.
Goodison is as hospitable to visitors as Guantanamo Bay in recent times and Lukaku was inflicting some serious mental and physical scars on the visiting Geordie backline as the half developed. His and Everton’s dominance was however aided and abetted by some truly dire defending from chucklebrother duo Coloccini and Yanga-Mbiwa, and their equally useless fullbacks – neither of which appeared to be able to do the very basics particularly in being able to tuck in and help out their struggling centre halves.
First a long kick up field from Howard towards Lukaku ended up at the feet of Mirallas who skinned Santon – a fullback you’d perhaps say is ‘better going forward’. Mirallas centre was gleefully gobbled up by Lukaku after Coloccini and Mbiwa kindly split to enable him acres of space to attack. It was the second time the Belgian duo have combined to score in their two league games together.
Whereas Newcastle couldn’t deal with up and unders, at the other end Distin was hoovering up everything that came over the top and the second goal came when the protein fuelling French behemoth showed good aggression to attack the ball in the air and instigate more confusion in the Newcastle defence with a powerful looping header from his own half. Mirallas picked up the ball and again fed Lukaku who in turn was able to take the ball and slide in Barkley to coolly slot home a right footed finish.
With Pardew’s men crumbling, a simple goal kick from Howard was again missed by the embarrassing Mbiwa who, along with Coloccini and Krul, allowed the ball to bounce for a grateful Lukaku to pounce for his second and Everton’s third goal of the game.
Overall our passing tempo in the first period was superb and there was a great overall balance to the team, particularly in midfield with Barry (left) and McCarthy (right) providing a great base for Barkley to kick on. Newcastle represented an abject shambles and were as bad defensively as any side have been at Goodison in recent seasons.
Alan Pardew’s slowness to pre-empt or react to tactical situations in recent seasons at L4 has either been a result of his own arrogance or downright stupidity. Here, however, he was very positive with 2 changes at half time; making one straight swap with Williamson’s physical presence curing the aerial problems faced in the first half and further forward Cabaye came on for Ben Arfa.
As part of the reshuffle, Gouffran moved to the left and Sissoko shifted to the right, but it was Cabaye’s quality on the ball that gave Newcastle better opportunities to link defence and attack and he was the second half’s stand out performer. In particular his balls over our defence to Gouffran and Remy to run onto really stretched us more than we would have liked.
As a result Newcastle had the better opportunities in the second period and through Cabaye and Remy added respectability to a scoreline which at half time only looked to be heading in one direction.
Thankfully there was to be no repeat of last season’s escapology.
Despite the fight back this was a really good display from the Toffees and one that showed we have a plan B to the possession based game we witnessed in the opening three games.
Even in the first period when our tempo was superb, Newcastle had more possession but overall we had almost double the touches (30 v 17) in Newcastle’s penalty box than they did ours. In this respect Lukaku gives us that ‘out ball’ that Fellaini offered, but alongside Barkley we have a duo that combine really well and with a great mix of power, pace and quality on the ball.
That’s 25 points from 27 available at Goodison and leaves us nicely ensconced in fourth spot with plenty of confidence going into the weekend game at Eastlands.