Newcastle United are the nearest thing to a one-man team since Jack Grealish left Aston Villa (honourable mention: Maxwel Cornet at Burnley). Allan Saint-Maximin is a player with the talent level to be starting for a top four team; think Adama Traore but with end product and the ability to make good decisions on the pitch. Whatever plan Frank Lampard and his backroom staff drew up to stifle the Frenchman spectacularly failed, as he ran riot all over St. James’ Park last night. As the Blues struggled, so ASM’s grip on the game grew. Everton saw playmaker James Rodriguez rotationally fouled in a number of games last season - to great effect - but by the time Anthony Gordon clattered the winger late in the second half, the game was lost and Saint-Maximin was already in full flow.
Allan Saint-Maximin completed 10 take-ons Everton, at least twice as many as any other player on the pitch.— EPL Statman (@EPLStatman) February 8, 2022
He also won 14 duels and created 3 chances. ⚡️
(@StatsZone image) #NUFC | #NEWEVE | #PL pic.twitter.com/fkz4oVLZdY
Cracking Under the Pressure
Armed with a new way of playing, Everton’s midfield duo of Andre Gomes and Allan impressed against Brentford in Saturday’s FA Cup match, either of the pair worthy player-of-the-match winners. After only a week’s training in Lampard’s possession game, this was impressive stuff but it all fell apart just a few days later. Newcastle manager Eddie Howe drew up a plan to mark the midfielders tightly and robustly pressure them. Almost immediately this had the desired effect, with the Portuguese and Brazilian looking uncomfortable and struggling to progress the ball smoothly through the middle of the park. Joelinton and Joe Willock registered 16 tackles and interceptions between them; Gomes touched the ball only 40 times and managed a mere 71% passing accuracy.
Most tackles per game when starting in midfield (5+ starts in midfield)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 9, 2022
Joelinton - 4.5
Naby Keita - 3.7
Yves Bissouma - 3.6
Kudos to Eddie Howe for that tactical switch! pic.twitter.com/kGoOwtwa47
Losing to all the Wrong Teams
Everton will soon enter a difficult run-in to the end of the season, with relatively few games offering a strong opportunity for three points. Those matches in which the team should be targeting maximum returns are, of course not against those clubs riding high in the table, but the Toffees are developing a calamitous habit of losing to exactly that level of opposition. Before Tuesday’s match at St James’ Park, Newcastle had won only two league matches from 21 and though they’d strengthened considerably in the January transfer window, arguably their major addition, Bruno Guimaraes - signed for £40m from Olympique Lyonnais - didn’t enter the fray until the 89th minute. And still, they dismissed the Blues with comparative ease.
Everton have lost each of their last 8 games in the Premier League against teams currently outside the top 7. #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) February 8, 2022
No Time to Waste
Newcastle have splashed some of their new-found wealth over the recent transfer window and despite their precarious situation in the league, managed to recruit some decent players as well as a couple of high-calibre upgrades. One such was England right back, Kieran Trippier. A £13.5m fee for a 31-year old, arriving from reigning Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, raised a few eyebrows, but the ex-Spurs man is looking like an inspired piece of business. On Tuesday he showed what a class operator he is, dominating his flank both offensively and defensively. Having waited for years to get an upgrade on Seamus Coleman, Evertonians will be forgiven for watching him enviously. The Toffees will need to get their new highly-rated additions, in particular Dele Alli and Donny van de Beek, untracked and up to speed urgently.
Kieran Trippier's game by numbers vs. Everton:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 8, 2022
100% shooting accuracy
75 touches (most)
15 long balls
10 crosses (most)
4 chances created (most)
1 foul won
What a performance. pic.twitter.com/AsRRzhfvGj
The poor form of the Blues has encompassed almost the entire season, so bad results and weak performances are now thoroughly ingrained and have become the norm. Everton have blown so many - on paper - winnable games that we now find ourselves with only 17 league fixtures left in which to salvage the season. The team has flirted with being dragged into a relegation dogfight for months, but the reality that we are now enmeshed within one has finally hit home.
Yes, there are still a number of poor(er) outfits in the bottom area of the table, but the Toffees are in big trouble and need to find the character and resilience to play themselves out of the danger zone - there is still time, despite so many wasted opportunities.
Everton have won one Premier League game since September.— Matchday365 (@Matchday365) February 8, 2022
They are 5 points above last-place Burnley. pic.twitter.com/gzqalsXxp7
Everton are back in league action this weekend in another relegation six-pointer, this time against Leeds United who showed a lot more character than the Blues to come from behind to draw 3-3 at Aston Villa.