As far as a 1-0 victory goes, this was a pretty good watch. Until a 93rd minute freak Tom Cleverley header, Newcastle were resolute and showed their TV-inspired resilience that has helped an upturn in form of late.
However gutting it was for Newcastle, their defence was fortuitous to avoid conceding for that long, with Romelu Lukaku missing a couple of chances, but the Geordies will be bemoaning Aleksandar Mitrovic’s inability to finish two absolutely sitters.
Mbemba looked to be Newcastle’s hero until Cleverley looped a header over a hapless Rob Elliot and Steve McClaren looked utterly distraught at the final whistle. Everton now sit just one point behind rivals Liverpool but Newcastle are lift feeling sorry for themselves in the bottom three – at least they’re above Sunderland!
A stressful Boxing Day evening for Newcastle is probably not a rare occurrence, but they seldom are under this amount of pressure at the bottom half of the table.
Here are FIVE things we learned from the game..
Mitrovic missed two absolutely crucial chances during Newcastle’s defeat and the striker needs to improve his goal return if he expects to become a Geordie hero like Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse were, albeit briefly.
His header at 0-0 in the second half would’ve changed the game dramatically and a Premier League striker should be smashing that into the net.
The surprising decision to leave Aaron Lennon out left Everton’s front line looking significantly less threatening.
Aaron Lennon, despite some good form about 5 years ago, is not even close to being as creative or damaging as the La Masia graduate and it was disconcertingly apparent today.
Fortunately, Coleman was willing to overlap and help Lennon out, but his knock and run game seems to crude compared to the ex-Barca man.
Newcastle’s defence has needed a steadying influence for years and it looks as though Chancel Mbemba could be that man.
Mbemba was extremely unlucky to end up on the losing side this Boxing Day and, just before the goal, he made a stunning tackle to stop a clear cut goal scoring opportunity for Romelu Lukaku.
Reliable central defenders are hard to get hold of, but Newcastle look like they’ve picked up a real bargain with this brute.
One of the biggest criticisms of Newcastle this season has been their inconsistency. Today, again, weirdly supported this argument.
For a side with the talent they have, there have been some woeful performances against sides they should walk over and several resilient displays when they’re put on the television.
A criticism of a team’s professionalism might seem a low blow, but the evidence does suggest just this.
Despite some questionable words from the BT commentators, Newcastle look for all the world like they have enough quality to stay up.
There is no side that is ‘too good to go down’, but, if Newcastle can replicate their recent form, they should be walking back up the table and would not look out of place sat alongside Stoke, West Ham and Everton.
Players like Ayoze Perez and Georginio Wijnaldum could easily be playing Champions League football and the fact that Newcastle are anywhere near relegation is a massive failure on the management’s part.