Initial disclaimer: Everton supporters will rightly feel very very harshly done by with today's result. For at least 45 minutes, they were by far the best team on the pitch at Goodison Park. Not only that, they scored two honest goals that were wrongly disallowed by the officiating crew. I apologize to you for this injustice. Now, I must go about my business of reacting on a purely Newcastle United-centric level.
For the second season running, Newcastle United have run out with a somewhat un-earned point from one of their away matches in the Premier League. Similar to the match v. Manchester United last year at Old Trafford, Everton were done in by a linesman- this time through disallowing a goal scored by
Nikica Jelavic Merouane Fellaini (ruled offside when he wasn't) and not allowing a goal from Victor Anichebe that clearly crossed the goal line. This is the storyline that will dominate the headlines tomorrow (and frankly already is)... but the truth of the matter is that Everton had their chance to earn the 3 points despite the linesman.
Serving the first of his two-match suspension for shoving the fourth official v. Tottenham Hotspur in the season opener, Alan Pardew sent out a lineup that looked promising on paper. As a result of the 4-2-3-1 formation that Newcastle would start the match with, Demba Ba would surprisingly start the match from the bench. On paper, it didn't look like it would be a bad thing. Playing Papiss Cisse as a lone striker in front of a trio of attacking midfielders (Sylvain Marveaux, Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa) looked promising enough before kick-off. With an early season marred by indifferent form at best, a shakeup of lineup and tactic was certainly worth a try. The result on the pitch was ... not what you would have hoped for.
The first 45 minutes was probably about as poorly as Newcastle United could play, and the play on the pitch mirrored your worst nightmare about playing Everton. Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar were relentless in pressuring James Perch (standing in for injured Danny Simpson) and the Toffees would have been good value to have been up by significantly more than the 1-0 halftime margin that they took into the locker room. In addition to the goal from Leighton Baines, Everton hit the outside of the post twice in the first half, including a great effort from Phil Jagielka.
Enter Halftime, Enter The Pardew
I don't know if Alan Pardew is the boot-throwing, red-face turning screaming type, but if he was, that had to be the Pardew that awaited the team in the locker room at half time. If he isn't, he likely stood at the white board and calmly diagrammed the changes that he would have liked to see. Completely ineffective Sylvain Marveaux was withdrawn in favor of Demba Ba, Vurnon Anita was swapped with James Perch - Anita taking over and shoring up the right back position and James Perch looking much more like the Perchinho that we have come to respect and/or love over the past year. Jonas (who also looked a bit... listless) was moved to a more right midfield role, Hatem Ben Arfa to the left in a quasi 4-3-3. Within 4 minutes, all of these changes paid dividends. Yohan Cabaye suddenly found his passing boots, sending a long diagonal ball on the ground from nearly midfield to the top of the 18 yard box. Reminiscent of the Cabaye of the 11-12 season, the pass was weighted so well it nearly sat on a tee for Demba Ba to drill across the face of goal to tie the match up. It was the 1,000th goal scored by Newcastle United in the Premier League.
In spite of Newcastle United playing their best looking football, they honestly couldn't have complained if they found themselves down by multiple goals (the aforementioned disallowed goals figure here). Even though Newcastle's defensive shape held up much better with the swapping of Perch and Anita, Everton were deserving leaders following Victor Anichebe's goal (like Leighton Baines', assisted by Steven Pienaar) in the 88th minute. That really should have been that, but perhaps the most encouraging thing we've seen this year happened. Just like last year when this team made a habit of snatching points when they didn't necessarily deserve them, Newcastle turned right around and leveled at 2 through a clinical Demba Ba finish (reminiscent of his early season form from 11-12) - though assisted by the linesman, the table will reflect 1 point (desperately needed, if we're honest) in the total points column and we'll apologize, be glad and move on.