Everton 3-2 Newcastle United
Everton produced an exhilarating first half performance to record their third league win of the season and continue their unbeaten run to six matches. The Blues now sit fourth in the Premier League table, with hope and expectations higher than ever. Newcastle United were blown away in an opening salvo from the Toffees, Lukaku scoring twice and local superstar Ross Barkley scoring his first Goodison goal.
Goodison under the floodlights always creates a special atmosphere and there is anticipation in the air whenever Roberto Martinez’ Everton take to the field. The Blues were simply brilliant, adding skill and finesse to the hardworking qualities that have been common place at Goodison for well over a decade. Gareth Barry and James McCarthy were terriers in the centre of the park, not giving Newcastle’s midfield a moments piece. But these pair are not simply ‘Dogs of War’, when in possession of the football they moved it quickly, incisively and positively to put the Newcastle rearguard under constant pressure.
If the Everton midfield has an added dimension this season, the attack is positively refreshed. Kevin Mirallas looked back to his best, terrorising David Santon in the full back position. Ross Barkley transition from Everton understudy to England international has happened quicker than anyone could have hoped for and the young Evertonian is relishing the trust and freedom placed in him by Martinez. His link up play with Romelu Lukaku has wet the appetite for the remainder of the season and if these two remain on the same level of form, Everton will be pushing at the top of the table all season long.
Lukaku is almost the complete centre forward. After the West Ham game, I boldly stated that Lukaku was the best centre forward to play for Everton since Graeme Sharp. On this evidence he might be the best since Dixie Dean. Big, strong and powerful, with a wonderful eye for goal, Lukaku now has three goals in just one and a half appearances for the Blues. His first a strong finish, brilliantly controlled after a good run down the right by Kevin Mirallas. His second provided an insight into his other qualities, following a ball that most would have given up on, before calmly side footing a defender to present himself with the easiest of finishes into an open goal. Inbetween, he found time and space and the perfect pass to set Ross Barkley free to score Everton’s other first half goal.
If the first half was perfect, the second brought some realism, with Newcastle responding to some harsh words from their manager, to rally and produce a much improved second half display. Yohan Cabaye scored a brilliant goal, the first conceded by Everton at Goodison for just under 700 minutes of football and although Everton then regained a semblance of control, a late second scored by Loic Remy ensured a nervous final five minutes. Everton did hold on for victory and with the Gwladys Street in full voice and asking David Moyes if he was paying attention to the rise of the Blues, Everton now find themselves fourth in the Premier League table and the only unbeaten side in England’s top division.
Team: Howard; Baines, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin; Barry, McCarthy, Barkley (Naismith); Mirallas (Deulofeu), Osman (Stones), Lukaku.
Goals: Lukaku x2, Barkley