Things are very interesting when you follow Newcastle. We’re either winning the league or getting relegated with every event that happens. It’s quite comical. It’s also part of why we drink and watch this club. In Newcastle’s 2-1 loss to Everton yesterday, when we went down 1-0, it seemed like all of us should just down a handle of whiskey right now. But then we scored, and it seemed like we were all going to march right to the bar celebrating how good we are and “Our defenders keep scoring”. Then we go down 2-1 and the reaction was “Bruce out”, “we’ve been Bruce’d”, “we’re trash”.
All in all, I recommend a liquid and carb diet when you watch Newcastle United play football. There are going to be a lot of ‘black and white’ moments with this club. So, let’s start with the first course.
The lineup in this match seemed much more promising from the start. 2nd match in as many days, and some of our more in-form players were rested for Man United. This is how we lined up:
Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Lejeune, Willems, Shelvey, Hayden, Almiron, Joelinton, Carroll.
Initial thoughts were it was going to be a 3-5-2 formation (it was), and bringing back Carroll, Hayden, and Shelvey was going to be key to our attack in this match.
Match underway! Huge opportunity right at the start. Yedlin played a low ball across the field to Joelinton. As that pass is being played, Almiron, smartly ran in-behind Keane. Joelinton passes it through to Miggy and he flicked a shot just wide of the near post as he fell down.
After that chance settled, we got to see the formation develop. It was the good ole 3-5-2. Shelvey sitting deep in the midfield with Hayden in front of him on the right. Almiron on the left, with Carroll and Joelinton up top.
Once things started to settle, the pace of play went exactly what we are used to. With Everton dominating possession. Early on, Dubravka, Carroll and Fernandez having to bail out Newcastle with a few Everton chances.
13th Minute: Everton Goal: 1-0. I have a lot of issues with this goal. It should of never been a corner, which should of never led to a foul on Almiron, led to a free kick that should have NEVER happened. Sigurdsson curled a free kick in the box and it was blocked and back out to Gyfli. He re-centers it, to Calvert-Lewin who pokes it past Dubravka for the goal.
There was a lot of confusion going on with Newcastle’s back-line and I’m still not sure what Jetro Willems was doing for the entire first half of the match. I’m not sure even Jetro knew what he was supposed to be doing. It was very easy for Everton to get behind our defense.
Everton kept attacking our left side and when he actually had the ball, NUFC would just hoof it up. We resulted to the long ball game.
Something had to change, and for a man that hasn’t made many in-game adjustments this year, Bruce switched things up this time. Newcastle moved to a 3-4-3 and things started working! Joelinton shifted to the right, Almiron to the left, Hayden and Shelvey in the midfield. This formation was causing problems and Almiron and Joelinton looked very dangerous on the wings.
This was a very encouraging sign as NUFC got multiple corners and consistently pressured Everton’s defense. Because of the NUFC success I noticed a few undisciplined players on Newcastle. Fernandez, who is usually very disciplined and very good was making many runs going forward. During that, Yedlin was forced to cover CB, Lejeune was making runs down the left, Schar was essentially a striker. These are things that you just don't want to see.
Halftime: 1-0 Everton: NUFC was down but not out. A formation change seemed to give NUFC hope again. With a bit of discipline, you could see us getting a goal soon. I was adamant that Newcastle needed a goal before the half. I knew Everton would adjust, and I also knew that we wouldn't. The 3-4-3 just wasn't going to be effective again so the 2nd half would come down to how Bruce handles it.
2nd half started and the 1st 10 minutes was NUFC trying to get the 3-4-3 to work, and Everton trying to figure out how to attack it. Dubravka had to make yet another great save to keep this match a one goal game. But then came NUFC’s breakthrough.
56th Minute: GOAL 1-1. FABIAN SCHAR! Willems hits a free kick towards the back post, and it was Carroll (naturally) who jumps the highest and heads the ball to Schar who volley’s it into the the net! A big goal for Newcastle.
The noise ramped up, the hope was there but unfortunately, it didn't last long.
64th Minute: GOAL 2-1 Everton: Lejeune gets TORCHED down the right, He had no support in the back because Willems was so far forward, Richarlison overlapped Walcott on the right and crosses the ball into a wide open Calvert-Lewin for an easy tap in.
This was an interesting goal because there was another Bruce change that happened right before the goal. Newcastle started pressing very high up the pitch. Everton made them pay. If you are going to do these things (Press, change formation, etc) you need discipline, and there wasn't much of that in this match,
74th Minute: Lejeune and Joelinton off for Atsu and Gayle. Yet another tactical change for Bruce then ensued. This changed had played move to a 4-4-2. Willems was Left-Back, Yedlin was Right-Back, Atsu was Right-Wing, and Almiron on the left.
After making this change, it seemed apparent that Newcastle aren't going to be able to create many opportunities. We won a few free-kicks, but nothing came of it.
85th Minute: Willems off for Sean Longstaff. Now we see yet ANOTHER tactical change for Steve Bruce. Atsu, yes Christian Atsu, moved to Left-Back, with Hayden on the right and S. Longstaff in the midfield. Then I noticed that Fabian Schar was playing Right-Wing? He eventually retreated, but there was an obvious lack of organization.
Full Time Everton 2, Newcastle 1. It was a weird match, no wonder I drink more watching this team. The formation changes just didn't work at all outside of 15 minutes in the first half. Newcastle are clearly best in a 5-4-1, but without ASM they are searching for answers on how to attack.
Next up: A New Years day clash at home against Leicester City
Stats and Things:
- Newcastle sit in 11th place on the table with 25 points
- Schar scored his 2nd goal of the season for Newcastle. He now has six Premier League goals.
- The xG stats had Newcastle with one of their higher xG numbers. Everton, however won the xG stat line by 2.83 to 1.63.
- Miguel Almiron led Newcastle in xG with .83. Joelinton led the team in xA with .65.
- PPDA (Passes allowed per defensive action in the opposition half) is another advanced stat is covered. For PPDA it is a bit of a non-factor for Newcastle because how much we bunker. But Newcastle gave up a pretty high 14.71 PPDA compared to Everton’s 8.50. Higher numbers are not a good thing in this stat.
- Sunderland are still in League One
- Whoscred ranked each individual performance, and the following Toon players got a 7 rating or higher: Andy Carroll (8.45), Fabian Schar (8.25), Joelinton (7.62), Martin Dubvraka (7.48), Jetro Willems (7.37).
- Even though we are currently in 11th place. fivethirtyeight predicts Newcastle will finish the season in 15th place on 43 points. Below us is Bournemouth, West Ham, Aston Villa, Watford, Norwich.
Steve Bruce said:
”There’s a frustration when you feel you don’t deserve to get beaten and we feel we’ve been done with the sucker-punch.
”Like I say, I don’t feel we deserve to get beaten but that’s the Premier League.
”We’ve always said that if Andy Carroll stays fit then he’ll be a big asset for us. So it’s good to see.
”For large periods, we had the better chances. Just as we got back in the game, we got caught.
”We’re high up the field, trying to win the game - their attitude was to try to win it which, ultimately, cost us. But, I can’t fault their effort.
”I was giving my player a telling off for giving Michael Keane a free header from the corner. How the referee can deem the ball hit one of our player is beyond me.
”Never mind the penalty claims, when that costs you, you do wonder if it’ll be your day.
”The penalties - I can understand why they weren’t given. The one that he missed when he gave a corner - I’m sorry, it’s a bad error.
”They launched an attack on him (Almiron) two weeks ago for going over: he’s tried to stay on his feet and be genuine and he hasn’t been rewarded.
”I thought the first one with Almiron was the critical one. For me, it is a penalty.
”If he goes down it’s a penalty, but he stays on his feet and he makes the referee’s decision easy.
”That’s the conundrum - because he hasn’t gone down, he hasn’t been rewarded. So, what do you do? In future, he will go over. Otherwise, you don’t get the penalty.
”We got our backsides kicked in at Manchester United but today we were punished a bit by a referee mistake, and the boys didn’t deserve it.
”We will dust ourselves down and be ready to go again on Wednesday and the second half of the season.”