In his pre-match comments, Frank Lampard addressed the challenge.
“We are stronger than we were last season. We’re different. At the moment, with the feeling we have, I don’t think we’ll be disrupted by the two defeats. Behind closed doors, can we analyse those games and be better? For sure. But we have to have belief in ourselves. [RBM]
Everton made two changes to the team that was beaten by Tottenham last week with Anthony Gordon returning to the starting lineup after his suspension and Dominic Calvert-Lewin made his first start since of the season.
The midfield three of Idrissa Gueye, Amadou Onana and Alex Iwobi remained unchanged. The back four have now played three games in a row together with Conor Coady next to James Tarkowski in the middle with captain Seamus Coleman and Vitaliy Mykolenko on the flanks. Jordan Pickford continued between the posts and was surely looking forward to playing against his old enemy! Coleman was making his 300th start for the Toffees.
Upfront, Everton had Dominic Calvert-Lewin starting with Demarai Gray and Anthony Gordon on either side of him. His return should have been a boost after a toothless display going forward last week. He arrived with 5 goals and 1 assist in his last six games against Newcastle. A strong bench included the returning Mason Holgate.
Newcastle started the day in fifth place on 16 points, just 4 points behind the leaders Arsenal. Newcastle had confirmed that their two most lethal attackers, Alan Saint-Maximin (hamstring) and Alexander Isak (thigh) would be missing the match along with Darlow (ankle), Krafth (knee), and Ritchie (calf).
Everton started the game with a more attacking 4-3-3 formation which was great to see. It only took two minutes for the Newcastle fans to show their love for Pickford and this love was a fixture of the match until the final whistle!
The early moments were end to end but there were very few clear cut chances for either team. It was clear from the start that the outlet pass to Calvert-Lewin was part of the game plan for the Blues. Newcastle’s first chance fell to Jacob Murphy who cut inside and bent the shot just around the far post.
The game was chippy in midfield and this created a stop/start It took 20 minutes before Everton started to gain some control in the game and started to string together some passes in the attacking half. Everton’s first corner from Gray was met by Calvert-Lewin but it flew over the bar. However, that control was short lived as Newcastle piled on the pressure.
The deadlock was broken in the 28th minute when Miguel Almiron curled a beautiful shot into the far corner. The defenders were too slow to get out to the top of the box and allowed the time for him to pick his spot. Almiron has now had four goals in four games. Everton were under pressure and needed to weather the storm. Bruno Guimaraes had a couple of opportunities but forgot his shooting boots.
Just before the break, Anthony Gordon was taken down in the box and the handbags came out. Gordon was given a yellow card and VAR had nothing to say. The replay did show a push from behind. On another day with another referee...... The first half ended with the Magpies having 58% of the ball and the Everton attack missing in action.
Joe Willock came on to replace Joelinton for the second half, Everton were unchanged. Demarai Gray finally showed some of his magic but was unable to find someone to finish off the move. The game started to open up and Everton were becoming more expansive but they were their own worst enemies as they gave up possession far too easily. Chances did start adding up and Calvert-Lewin was frequently at the end of the pass moving forward. The travelling Evertonians finally had something to support and their voices were heard.
At the hour mark, it was Everton who were controlling the game and were getting forward more frequently. They had 90% of the ball during that period but no clear cut chances. At the 70 minute mark, Everton withdrew Iwobi and Calvert-Lewin and brought on Maupay and Garner. The removal of Iwobi was somewhat surprising as he was starting to get on the ball more frequently. The surprises from Lampard continued with the removal of Gray in the 78th minute.
The forward pressure by Everton left the inevitable gaps at the back and Newcastle had a couple of chances but nothing that tested Pickford. Neil Maupay struggled to get into the game and couldn’t even remember to wear the white socks like his mates when he arrived in the game. Coady and Tarkowski stood tall at the back but this match was won in the midfield and the attack. Six minutes of added time did not help the Blues and Everton faded into the night.
The 4-3-3 formation had Iwobi taking up a pressing role which was creating a mismatch for Newcastle when the were able to get the ball past him. This created an overload which Everton were unable to handle. In the second half, the forced removal of Joelinton helped Everton and there was more balance and few moments where this overload created issues for the Blues.
With Gana Gueye in the middle at the start of the match, it was Iwobi who was moved outside which took him away from the area that he has been most influential. The first half saw Everton overrun in the middle of the pitch and Iwobi had very little influence but his move back into the middle created the best spell of the match before his removal. This is a second match where tactically we were inferior. I wonder if it is time to move to a 4-2-3-1 so that Iwobi can sit in front of Onana and Gueye. Onana has the legs to join the attack when we move the ball forward and that would allow Iwobi to run the show.
In the end, it is three losses on the spin with one goal for and five against. One attempt at goal and zero on net today, which now makes it two games with no shots on target. Good to see Calvert-Lewin starting but more questions than answers at the end of the match. Sadly, there was no one to bring on who would be able to score. One point above the drop zone. The next five games are going to have a huge impact on Lampard’s future. Thankfully, Everton will return home for a match against Crystal Palace which is followed by Fulham, Leicester and Bournemouth.