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Everton 1-2 Newcastle: Three Thoughts | Toffees drop from top spot

Three thoughts from Sunday’s deflating performance on Tyneside

Newcastle United v Everton - Premier League Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Lack of Service

For a second straight game, Dominic Calvert-Lewin was starved of any semblance of the service he has seen with James Rodríguez and Lucas Digne on the wings. A tireless worker on and off the ball, Calvert-Lewin simply can’t take on an entire Premier League defence on his own. He has demonstrated his capabilities in the air, to get up over defenders and time his shots, but futility reigns when the quality of the service is this paltry.

Other than an Alex Iwobi cross in the 91st minute — a deflected ball that Calvert-Lewin then pounced on — Everton’s ruthless number nine has been kept far too quiet in recent weeks. Coinciding with his lack of service: injuries, exposing the lack of depth in this Everton side and back-to-back losses over the course of two winnable matches. The defeat in the northeast marks Ancelotti’s first consecutive losses since September 2014, when he coached in the Spanish Capital.

Olsen vs Pickford

More than a few eyebrows were raised upon the release of Everton’s team sheet yesterday — Carlo Ancelotti had penciled in Robin Olsen as the starting keeper, leaving Jordan Pickford on the bench for the first time since his arrival at Goodison Park. Despite claiming that Pickford was merely being “rested” for next weekend’s fixture against Manchester United, after several recent inept displays of goalkeeping — and one horror-tackle — Ancelotti clearly has sent Pickford a message. While Ancelotti maintained before, and after, the game that Pickford would be back against the Red Devils, Olsen did little to help Pickford’s chances of getting back into the starting 11.

The Swedish number one made a magnificent, point-blank save on Allan Saint-Maximin and couldn’t do much about either goal; failing to save a penalty kick and a ball that took a deflection off Yerry Mina. Ancelotti is bound to hear the approval surrounding his decision to “rest” Pickford. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Muddled Midfield

Injuries and suspensions have made selecting a starting XI extremely difficult for Ancelotti. Missing the likes of Seamus Coleman, Digne, James Rodriguez and Richarlison — all of whom are integral members of this squad — means that the Italian must rely on his “depth” players. We cannot fault him for the players at his disposal, however, we can question, and blame, Ancelotti for selecting a midfield of five players who lack any semblance of speed, although Allan and Abdoulaye Doucouré are strong midfielders who can hold their own against speedier wingers and forwards.

The issue with Ancelotti’s midfield against Newcastle was that it included André Gomes and Gylfi Sigurdsson on the wings, with Fabian Delph running about in a chaotic frenzy. With a lack of depth and speed on the wings, all Ancelotti had to do was look to his bench, where both Anthony Gordon and Alex Iwobi sat, ready to run at the likes of Jamal Lewis and Jacob Murphy. While he cannot be held entirely accountable for yesterday’s debacle, Ancelotti did put Everton at a disadvantage by opting for Gomes and Sigurdsson on the wings.