5 Thoughts: Everton vs Newcastle United

Stu Forster

A strong start propelled Everton to a 3-2 victory over Newcastle at Goodison Park. Here we take a look at the bumpy ride that ultimately got Everton the three points.

1. Romelu Lukaku has the ability to carry Everton to a top 4 spot.

The young Belgian scored twice, set up a third, and could have easily scored 2 more in the first half if he had not slightly strayed offside. Lukaku has been making runs, getting open, and making key passes since his introduction against West Ham. As Chelsea continues to struggle (in relative terms), it is hard to understand why they were willing to part with him in the first place! We found ourselves often wondering last season where we could have been if only the side had a consistent striker, and this is a team that not only has that, but is creating even more chances than last year's squad.

2. We've seen games like this before, and usually Everton finds ways to lose them.

Monday's match wasn't all that different from the midweek loss at Fulham in the League Cup; the team dominated the first half, should have scored 2 or 3 goals in the first half alone, and slipped up to a degree in the second half. This was a frequent occurrence last season as well, and just like at Craven Cottage, Everton usually could not pull out such matches. But yesterday was different. Everton scored 3 goals in the first half, and although the second half got sloppy, after Newcastle dominated the first 15 minutes, the Toffees secured a decent foothold for the last half hour of proceedings. In short, this was a match that last season's Blues draw or lose, but this season they managed to turn into three points. This is progress.

3. ...but, a second consecutive disappointing second half and less than stellar showing from the defense does raise some concerns.

Though there are a lot of positives to take from the victory, there are certainly some issues to keep in mind as well. Sylvain Distin's postgame tweet sums it up best:

Two games certainly does not make a trend, and Newcastle ought to be lauded for their aggressive, improved approach to the second half of the match, but this will certainly be something the Toffees will feel they need to nip in the bud. Additionally, Everton's defense as a whole so far this season as been inconsistent. Clean sheets against West Brom, Cardiff, and Chelsea are encouraging, but two goals conceded against Newcastle, Norwich, and West Ham are equally discouraging. It is crucial that the boys at the back sort out the problems before next week's match at the Etihad.

4. Lukaku, Ross Barkley, and Kevin Mirallas worked together well to dominate the first half.

Mirallas hadn't particularly impressed so far this season, perhaps struggling with the injection of new talent (Barkley and Lukaku), and the change in tactics which has taken away his ability to use his speed to get on the end of long balls and start counter attacks, in place of a slower, more possession based buildup. Yesterday however, Mirallas seemed to find his way into more attacks, perhaps helped by Leon Osman's more central play down the left wing and the solid play of the holding midfielders. Regardless, he connected well with Barkley and Lukaku through the first half, and set up Everton's first goal. If Mirallas can continue to play well once Pienaar returns, the attack may be the strongest we have ever seen it from the boys in blue.

5. This Everton squad can score in different ways.

There were certainly some growing pains related to the adoption of Roberto Martinez's style of play, but there has obviously been progress in the last four games, with an explosion of 8 goals. This is about more than just an improved execution and understanding of the game plan though. Two of Lukaku's three goals since coming aboard have been a direct result from relatively simple crosses, with the third coming from a long ball from the back. Baines' goals against West Ham came from absolute brilliance on set pieces. These plays have been ultimately set up by the sort of passing buildup that Martinez wants to see, but to know that when necessary, Everton can also play a long ball or crosses into the box makes them an even more dangerous team to defend against.

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