This team, man! You can fault them for their injuries, their manager, their lack of ability, their lack of attack, but you can not fault them for their effort. When the second goal went in during the last moment of the match yesterday, there were absolute scenes, then there was laughter. I genuinely don’t know how they do it. At this point, the team probably feels invincible.
There was a lot to be concerned about going into this match. Injuries, a short time-frame from a dramatic victory on Saturday, on the road. The stars weren't aligned, but this team never stopped. As bad as they looked, they kept it going, what an amazing effort from them.
The first challenge that Bruce had was his lineup. There are tired players, injured players, but he still had to put 11 out there, Here is what he came up with:
Dubravka, Hayden, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, S. Longstaff, M. Longstaff, Atsu, Almiron, Joelinton
Subs: Darlow, Schar, Krafth, Gibson, Shelvey, Allan
The first thing that stood out was no Saint-Maximin. There were rumblings that they were going to rest him. The second thing I noticed, was that Shelvey might still not be 100% fit as the Longstaff’s started over him.
The last thing I noticed was there were 4 defenders on the bench. A debut for Liam Gibson who had a good loan spell in League 2 for Grimsby Town as well.
When the match started, it became clear that Hayden was Right-Wing-Back. Ritchie was Left-Wing-Back. Almiron was on the right, Atsu on the left, the Longstaffs in the middle and Joelinton up top.
Initially this match was a surprise. It was very open. It’s easy to assume at this point that Newcastle would just bunker and counter but they went for it (kind-of). There was attacking intent for both sides but the actual first shot of the match didn't come until the 16th minute. The story was great build-up play, and then lacking the final 3rd precision needed.
For the next 10 minutes, Everton took control due to some poor awareness by NUFC from Matty Longstaff and Clark, but NUFC were eventually able to clear.
30th Minute: Goal! 1-0 Everton (Kean)
This was some pretty bad defending for NUFC. The ball was chipped right over the back three to Keane. Kean, took a bad touch but had enough time to recover and slot the ball under Dubravka.
After that goal, it was all Everton. They were relentlessly attacking. The only bright spot for Newcastle was Almiron (I feel like this is becoming the norm). Almiron is so active and can really turn nothing into something.
Towards the end of the half, Almiron joined Joelinton up top with Atsu acting as a 10.
Half-Time; 1-0 Everton
The 1st half was not ideal. We clearly lacked in the final third and we were sloppy in possession and defensively. Outside of Almiron creating thing here and there, nothing really transpired for the toon.
2nd half started and Newcastle came out in a different formation: A 3-5-2. It’s not a drastic difference from a 541 when you’re attacking but it does provide more dangerous players forward. Atsu stayed deeper and joined the Longstaffs in the midfield. Almiron was playing just off Joelinton up top.
54th Minute: Goal! 2-0 Everton (Calvert-Lewin)
Everton had another chance right before this that hit the bar. So they were really on the front foot. This goal once again was awful defending. I have to put this one on Lascelles. Digne sent the ball in to Calvert-Lewin, who has all the time in the world to turn because Lascelles plays the ball and not the player, and crushes the ball into the net. An easy goal for him.
After this goal, I pretty much resigned to the fact that Newcastle were going to lose this match. The only good thing we were doing in the first half was getting the ball out to Almiron, but we couldn’t even do that at this point.
Chance after chance came in from Everton. This one was a Calvert-Lewin cross down the left hand side, Keane gets in between our defense and headed the ball low into Dubravka’s arms.
62nd Minute: Substiution - Atsu OFF, Krafth ON
Atsu had an awful day. He didn’t even complete one cross during the match :( Krafth moved to Right-Wing-Back and Hayden was pushed into the midfield alongside the Longstaffs. Sean was in the middle, Matty on the left and Hayden on the right. Miggy and Big Joe were up top.
70th Minute: Substitution - Clark OFF, Lejeune ON
At this point, NUFC still didn’t have a second half shot, but with 0 strikers on the bench, Bruce didn’t have many options to improve chances. Lejeune went into Left CB.
Everton continued their attacks forcing Dubravka to make two great saves. One from a deflected shot from Calvert-Lewin.
78th Minute; Substitution - Joelinton OFF, Schar ON
This was the dealbreaker for me. We had Tom Allan on the bench but we decided to take two attacking players and a CB off and replaced them with 3 defenders. It showed no attacking effort at all, and I for sure resigned that this would be an easy 3 points for Everton as it seemed like we weren’t even going to try.
This substitution cause a lot of confusion. Hayden and the rest of the team had no idea what formation they were going to be playing. Almiron was the lone striker, Hayden and the Longstaffs were behind him, and Schar moved to a back 3 with the two wing-backs. However, it didn’t seem like they had any idea of spacing or formation at all. They were all over the place. We continued with also not having a single shot in the second half.
Big chance did come from NUFC though. Ritchie took a corner and Fernandez rose the highest to get the ball. He headed it across goal and it was deflected, but Pickford saved it.
90+4 GOAL! LEJEUNE 2-1 Everton
What a great goal it was but I feared it was too late. There wasn’t even a celebration for it. Schar took a shot and it went into the ground and bounced right to Lejeune who bicycle-kicked it into the net. Very good effort from Lejeune and poor goalkeeping all around for Pickford (lol)
90+5 GGGGOOOOOAAAALLLLLL! LEJEUNE 2-2!!!!
HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE?!?!?! IM GOING TO TYPE THIS IN CAPS BECAUSE THIS DESERVES IT. EVERTON COMPLETELY COLLAPSED AND THERE WAS A FERNANDEZ SHOT THAT HIT OFF OF THE BAR AND A SCRAMBLE IN FRONT OF THE NET. PICKFORD MADE A SAVE THAT PUT HIM IN HIS OWN NET, AND AS HE TRIED TO MAKE A SECOND SAVE THE BALL CROSSED THE LINE BEFORE HIS COULD GET TO IT. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
We looked exhausted for an entire match. Lacked quality for an entire match. But this team never quit. They kept going and never quit. That’s why we love this team, because they never feel they are out of it. Always going until the end. You have to stand up and applaud these players, and Steve Bruce. The mindset of this club is fantastic.
Stats and Things:
- Newcastle dropped to 13th place on the table with 30 points. They are now only 4 points from 5th place, 7 points from a relegation place.
- Newcastle are now unbeaten since their New Year’s day loss to Leicester
- Lejeune became Newcastle’s 148th PL scorer and the 22nd from France.
- This was Newcastle’s first PL goal from a substitute this season
- This was the first time that NUFC have ever scored twice in the second half of added time in their history
- Newcastle lost the xG matchup. NUFC had 0.60xG and Everton had 2.05.
- Florian Lejeune led Newcastle in xG with 0.33. Hayden led the team in xA with 0.12.
- 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, a lot. But Newcastle gave up 15.13 PPDA against Everton. Everton gave up 10.88 PPDA
- xPTS is another stat predicting the amount of expected points each team were supposed to get based on match-play. Newcastle had 0.39xPTS and Everton had 2.44xPTS.
- Sunderland are still in League One
- Whoscored ranked each individual performance, these were the players the received a 7 or higher for Newcastle : Florian Lejeune (8.10), Issac Hayden (7.27), and Martin Dubravka (7.19).
- NUFC are currently in 13th place. fivethirtyeight predicts Newcastle will finish the season in 13th place on 44 points. NUFC currently have a 9% chance to get relegated and a 7% chance on a top 10 finish. Below us, they predict as Aston Villa, Bournemouth, and Norwich to be relegated.
Steve Bruce said:
”It’s quite remarkable. I can’t fault the players for their endeavor. Joelinton was struggling after 50 minutes; I nearly put a centre-half up front.
”We keep showing determination. We were a tired team tonight but we found a bit of energy from somewhere.
”When we scored Mike Dean said there are 40 seconds left - and you’re thinking ‘can we score in 40 seconds?’ We rode our luck certainly but they never gave up.
”There is a good spirit and attitude in this team - we looked tired but we played people out of position. We didn’t have much coming off the bench in terms of forward players but the attitude was fantastic.
”It’s a wacky game that’s for sure - but it’s great. It just shows you shouldn’t leave a game early.”
”Joelinton was struggling with an injury and we had no strikers. I didn’t want to put Jonjo (Shelvey) on because he wasn’t right. I’m asking people to play out of position but they stuck at it.
”If anyone deserved two goals it’s Flo with the problems he’s had in his Newcastle career.
”I couldn’t play (Allan) Saint-Maximin after seeing him yesterday so we left him behind. We hope he’s available for Saturday.
”Andy Carroll, DeAndre Yedlin and Nabil Bentaleb should be available (for Oxford) too.”