It’s six days since Carlo Ancelotti took his first training session as Everton’s new manager. Thanks to the opportunity of two games in the space of as many days, he already has six points on the board and, depending on what happens between Arsenal and
Manchester United Chelsea tomorrow, the Blues could be starting 2020 in the top half of the Premier League table.
That feels like an awfully far cry from how Evertonians were feeling on the 5th of December following a third successive defeat and humiliation in the Merseyside derby that had left the club sitting in the relegation zone with three more of the “big six” still to play in successive games.
Duncan Ferguson, of course, played his part, rousing a squad depleted of personnel and morale to a win and a draw before Farhad Moshiri landed one of the biggest fish possible as Marco Silva’s successor.
It’s very early days but the contrasts between the vastly experienced Italian and a comparative novice in the form of the Portuguese are already evident, not least in terms of tactical shifts and game management, both of which elements lay at the heart of this 2-1 victory at St James’s Park.
It’s hard not to draw the distinctions between this result and the corresponding fixture on this ground last season. On both occasions, Everton were winning 2-1 with 25 minutes to go but where, in March, Silva’s side collapsed in the final 10 minutes and went on to lose a match they had been leading 2-0, this time Ancelotti’s charges held on in disciplined and increasingly assured fashion to secure the points.
It was a mostly professional away performance, particularly after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had slid the ball home to put Everton back in front after Fabian Schär had cancelled out his first-half opener. Ancelotti had initially withdrawn the tiring Moise Kean in favour of Fabian Delph with an hour gone but the manager proceeded to add Seamus Coleman for the willing but often ineffective Theo Walcott — Djibril Sidibé was pushed forward into right midfield as part of the reshuffle — and then Yerry Mina for Leighton Baines with 10 minutes left to deal with the aerial threat of Andy Carroll.
The veteran striker had already set up the equaliser with a largely uncontested header from a set-piece 11 minutes into the second half and with Everton conceding a number of frustratingly unnecessary fouls in dangerous areas of the pitch, a player capable of competing with Carroll was a welcome addition. It helped the visitors lock down the game and ensure that Steve Bruce’s Magpies lost on home turf for the first time since August.
With such a short turnaround between this fixture and the home game against Burnley on Boxing Day, Ancelotti made five changes to his starting XI, bringing in Baines, Michael Keane, Walcott, Tom Davies and Kean but there appeared to be little disruption from the display against the Clarets. Aside from the first couple of exchanges, where Miguel Almíron poked a shot wide and Joelinton shot weakly at Jordan Pickford, Everton would dominate the first 25 minutes, hogging almost 70% of the ball, and a spell of pressure that began in the 10th minute eventually told.
Gylfi Sigurdsson and Baines exchanged passes from a short corner routine which ended with the fullback swinging a deep cross to the back post where Kean made contact, Richarlison found the goal blocked by the goalkeeper and a defender so he laid it back to Mason Holgate but his side-foot shot was saved one-handed by Martin Dubravka who then bundled the ball behind as Calvert-Lewin tried to turn it home.
Keane was fortunate to be awarded another corner when he headed the subsequent corner off his shoulder and over the bar and when that set-piece was cleared, Baines was clattered outside the area by Almíron.
Sigurdsson’s direct free-kick cannoned back to him off the defensive wall, his shot on the rebound deflected off a defender and fell to Calvert-Lewin in front of goal and he picked his spot beyond Dubravka.
Everton had their tails up and Kean showed his turn of pace to race forward and cut the ball back for Walcott but his shot was blocked and the former Gunner might have expected someone to get on the end of his dangerous ball into the six-yard box that skidded across the face of goal and behind.
In between, Joelinton picked up a Carroll flick-on but Pickford saved near his right-hand post while Calvert-Lewin was sent sprawling by Fernandez in the box but nothing was given by the officials.
While Everton had been in confident mood for the first half of the first period, they relinquished the hold they had on the contest after that and Newcastle began to come more and more into the game.
Skillful work by Jetro Willems tied Walcott in knots and helped him evade Sidibé to centre for Almíron around 10 yards out but the Paraguayan’s shot came back off the post to Carroll who turned the loose ball in but was flagged offside.
Isaac Hayden volleyed narrowly over the crossbar from Holgate’s clearance, Pickford beat Schär’s powerful drive away, Florian Lejeune curled an effort over and Almíron had the last chance of the half when he was played into space by Joelinton but he sliced his shot into the stands as Holgate came across to cover.
Everton emerged from the half-time interval keen to reestablish some momentum and they had an early chance through Kean who knocked the ball past his man in the box but a touch too close the keeper who close him down and blocked his shot. The Italian striker then sprinted away following Keane’s clearance at one end but Dubravka saved his low shot shortly before Newcastle equalised.
A soft decision by referee Lee Mason to award the hosts a free kick for Walcott’s raised leg on Willems set up a free-kick wide on the Magpies’ left which was lofted to Carroll at the back post where he rose above Sigurdsson to nod it down and Schär swept the ball first time inside Pickford’s far post.
The pendulum could have swung decisively in Newcastle’s favour at this point but it was Everton who threatened to score next and who went close through Kean whose half-volley was saved fairly comfortably by Dubravka before Holgate had a goal of his own waved away by the offside flag.
Just eight minutes after Bruce’s side had equalised, however, the visitors regained the lead. Richarlison won the ball back in midfield after he’d initially given it away with a loose flick, Walcott played him in down the right flank and the Brazilian surged past his marker into the area and slipped a teasing ball across for Calvert-Lewin who just needed to make solid enough contact to steer it over the goal line.
It was another reward for a player who, along with his Brazilian strike partner and the wonderfully versatile Holgate, has risen to the challenge these past few weeks and delivered on a consistent basis.
With a win that represents Everton’s 11th points from a possible 15 since Silva was sacked, things are certainly looking up for the Blues as they look ahead to 2020. With 22 shots on goal to add to the 21 they registered against Burnley, there is no shortage of attacking endeavour in the team now.
Ancelotti rightly pointed out afterwards that his team can and need to play better football and he was disappointed with the way they ceded the initiative back to Newcastle in the first half but he will be justifiably pleased with his return of maximum points so far.
The trip to Manchester City on New Year’s Day and the FA Cup date Anfield beyond pose altogether more difficult propositions but Evertonians will travel to both games with a good deal more confidence that their side can produce something on the home ground of the fading Champions and their apparent heits than would have been the case under Ancelotti’s predecessor.
There’s a long way to go with some key parts of the side that the new boss will eventually want to improve but the way things are going, it could be a happy new year after all.
Reader Comments (22)
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1 Posted 28/12/2019 at 00:11:44
2 Posted 29/12/2019 at 01:29:34
1) Back to back wins
2) only 1 goal conceded
3) once Newcastle got their equaliser, instead of collapsing we went on to win (witness the Leicester collapse and Jamie Carraghers nasty (albeit true) comments)
4) over 20 shots on goal in last 2 matches this is important the 1st goal today came as a result of Siggys shot we made our own luck. Something that all the best teams do. Clearly this seems to be a change / instruction from the new boss and its already reaping results. We may even start seeing a few goals from outside the area?!?
5) so nice to play 2 up front again rather than 1 man isolated. Incredible how Duncan addresses this immediately and CA continued it but Silva never tried it even once
6) the team seen mentally stronger, more of a unit and more resilient
Buzzing at the moment after months and months of depression
Baines is one of my favourite ever Everton players
3 Posted 29/12/2019 at 02:59:21
4 Posted 29/12/2019 at 03:36:54
I love you
5 Posted 29/12/2019 at 04:00:30
As for the team... well done. The quality is finally showing.
I hope that January brings in more surprises and a few exciting names.
6 Posted 29/12/2019 at 04:27:08
7 Posted 29/12/2019 at 07:48:51
Ancelotti has been able to turn around the performance of most of the players, though there are a few stragglers. There is still the legacy of past managers, which fortunately Brands has been addressing and now Ancelotti will be helping him with.
It is now obvious it was too big of a job for Silva. It will be interesting to see the changes at Finch Farm and what Moshiri next move will be regarding the internal management of the Club. Ancelotti knows that change has to be both on and off the pitch to achieve his objectives.
Moshiri must have convinced him there was a willness or plan to do this, for Ancelotti to decide to join Everton.
8 Posted 29/12/2019 at 09:23:46
2020 looks a lot better now with us looking up the table and not down. Top 6 not an unrealistic target Id say with still half the season to go.
If he can get us past the 3rd round of the FA cup and to the final and win, the guy will get legend status.
9 Posted 29/12/2019 at 09:37:09
Consistency from DCL and Mason Holgate proves they are the real deal.
I was well impressed with Richarlison yesterday, a great assist. I particularly liked his last 10 minute spell, fighting for the ball, getting down the flanks, winning corners. All when Newcastle were desperate to get long balls into our box. This passage of play and led by the determination of Richarlison was superb in breaking up play and relieving pressure on our defence. True, he needs more accuracy in his midfield passing but that will improve.
More often than not such players tire , can disappear for the last 5-10 mins and pray for the final whistle, so top marks for Richarlison for being top class at the end of the game. Impressive stuff, such commitment is infectious and bodes well for this team.
10 Posted 29/12/2019 at 10:05:28
11 Posted 29/12/2019 at 10:09:17
12 Posted 29/12/2019 at 10:17:16
13 Posted 29/12/2019 at 10:22:50
He seems to be a very supportive guy, but one who sees everything that is going on. He will wither a shirker from 20 paces with a raise of his left eyebrow.
14 Posted 29/12/2019 at 12:47:28
I can remember how poorly we'd do on the Sunday after an Europa League match under Moyes.
Most positive how well the younger players have stood up.
Starting with yesterday's MotM DCL. together woth Mason Holgate, Tom Davies,Richarlison, and an improved Moise Kean, we have the nucleus of a good team.
The only thing still missing is a Moise Kean goal.
Eleven points from the last five games, only one team has a better haul.
And they were the fixtures most were dreading under Silva.
15 Posted 29/12/2019 at 12:58:05
16 Posted 29/12/2019 at 15:27:44
Will be an interesting game on Weds but regardless of result, the players seem totally different compared to a few weeks ago. They can now get a few days rest and enter 2020 with confidence sky high.
If Ancelotti can get the current squad playing better, I wonder if theres any chance he can get some of the misfits on loan to play like they did before we signed them.
Hats off to Moshiri for pulling our the stops on this one. Top 6 is certainly a target still - even after the debacle of Silva.
17 Posted 29/12/2019 at 23:50:00
18 Posted 29/12/2019 at 00:15:29
Surely Carlo hasn't had time to drum this in to the players in such a short time. Perhaps, as has been mentioned by others already on here, the players have the skills but they respect the new manager!
Baines was excellent yesterday, as was Holgate once again. DCL put in a great effort and performance, as did Richarlison. Good team performance.
It was good to see Moise Kean get a start. I thought he did quite well, although occasionally, he looked a little lost after an Everton attack had broken down well up the pitch. More game time please for him - he looks like he has it in him to do very well.
BTW, has anybody on here heard about Manure putting in an offer of 80m pds for Richarlison? Trifling sum for such a player, who has just signed a new contract! The only comment on this I have heard was made by one of the match commentators yesterday. IMO - If true, this is where we show we mean business - NOT FOR SALE!
19 Posted 30/12/2019 at 11:41:12
Im basing this on just one movement at Anfield when he should have scored, but the way his first touch and pace left Liverpools defence for dead, is not something Ive seen off many Everton strikers, in all my years watching the blues?
21 Posted 30/12/2019 at 18:26:39
I'm so pleased Silva's regime feels a thing of the past already...well done Ferguson and well done Ancelotti
22 Posted 02/01/2020 at 16:25:59
Former Everton midfielder Li Tie has been appointed as head coach of the China National Team.
The 42-year-old succeeds Italian Marcello Lippi, who quit the job for a second time in November after a 2-1 defeat by Syria in a 2022 World Cup qualifier.
Li made 92 appearances for China and played at the 2002 World Cup.
He initially joined Everton on loan in 2002 and featured in 40 matches under then manager David Moyes, before a move to Sheffield United in 2006.
Li played just one game for the Blades before returning to China in 2008.
After retiring from playing in 2011, Li was the assistant coach of Guangzhou Evergrande and China, before taking over at Hebei Fortune and then Wuhan Zall.
Most recently, he led a China reserve side to the East Asian Championships in South Korea in December.
23 Posted 02/01/2020 at 16:47:57
Perhaps we can sign that highly rated Jiang Guangtai as we need another centre-back. (Sorry Mike Gaynes, couldn't resist it!).
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