Everton 3-2 Newcastle United

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Romelu Lukaku scored twice, as Everton moved into the top four with a 3-2 win over Newcastle.

A scintillating first-half display saw the hosts go into the interval seemingly coasting at 3-0. But an overwhelmed Newcastle emerged for the second-half invigorated by a double substitution, as goals from Yohan Cabye and Loïc Remy left the hosts holding on for the three points.

In the first-half, Lukaku showed once again precisely what his parent club Chelsea appear to be missing in their quest for silverware this season, as his brace was coupled with an assist for Ross Barkley in what was a brilliant individual display.

Yohan Cabaye gave Newcastle hope with an exquisite finish early in the second period, and Loic Remy added a second in the 89th-minute, as the visitors came away ruing their first-half display.

Right from the first whistle, Lukaku was causing havoc for the Newcastle defence. A smart interchange with Barkley saw the Belgian forward find the net, only for the linesman’s flag to be raised for offside.  

Everton, and Lukaku, were not to be denied from capitalising on their bright start however, as moments later, the home side were ahead.

The striker, who scored 17 Premier League goals whilst on loan at West Bromwich Albion last season, has taken to his new surroundings extremely well, having made an instant impact in the enthralling 3-2 comeback win at West Ham last week, and it was he who won the initial aerial challenge with Coloccini that would eventually result in him opening his Goodison account.

The bustling centre-forward fed his fellow Belgian counterpart Kevin Mirallas down the right-side, and the winger used his pace to out-strip Santon and produce an incisive low-driven cross back into the path of Lukaku, whose first-time shot was too powerful for Krul. 

Barkley then cracked a right-footed shot that was always veering wide of Krul’s left-hand post, as Everton looked to take the game beyond the visitors. Much of Newcastle’s early endeavour was channelled through Haten Ben Arfa, but he was getting very little change out of Seamus Coleman down the left, and it was a determined run by the Republic of Ireland international that had the Magpies on the back-foot once more. 

Newcastle’s defence simply couldn’t handle the physical presence of Lukaku, and the hosts whirlwind start soon resulted in a second goal, with the Belgian at the heart of proceedings once again. Having picked up the ball in the centre-circle, Lukaku found the run of Barkley, who showed excellent composure to direct the ball beyond Krul.

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Newcastle were struggling to provide Remy with any service of note. In contrast, Everton were managing to pick out Lukaku at will, and a bad night for Newcastle fans became worse after 37 minutes. Coloccini and Yanga-M’Biwa were clearly already smarting from the damage Everton’s front trio of Mirallas, Barkely and Lukaku had caused them when a long ball over the top by Howard found the pair at odds with each other once more. Lukaku was only too pleased to take advantage of such uncertainty, powering through to round the goalkeeper and lash the ball into the empty net. 

The Newcastle players would have had Alan Pardew’s half-time team-talk ringing in their ears as they emerged for the re-start. A slide-rule pass down the channel by Anita found Gouffran, whose first-time effort beat Tim Howard, but not the post. Nothing appeared to be going the way of the visitors. 

It would have been indicative of Newcastle’s night had Everton scored a fourth moments later, as Mirallas broke down the right and saw his shot parried by Krul and Osman fail to convert the rebound. 

Yohan Cabaye’s introduction at half-time, in spite of manager Alan Pardew’s concerns over the Frenchman’s groin, paid dividends moments later, and in spectacular fashion.

Gouffran teed up his fellow countryman, and the midfielder, who had signalled his desire to leave Tyneside over the summer, unleashed an unstoppable 25-yard drive that looped beyond the outstretched Howard.

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Gerard Deulofeu was brought on in place of Mirallas with 20 minutes to go, as manager Roberto Martinez looked to inject life back into the hosts, and while Everton were nowhere near as free-flowing as in the first-half, they produced a gritty second-half display that took the sting out of their opponents.

It was only after Loïc Remy’s instinctive close-range finish with a minute remaining that the travelling supporters began to sense a memorable comeback could be on the cards, but it proved to be in vain, as Everton recorded their third successive win that moves them into the Champions League places and preserves their record as the only remaining side unbeaten in the league.  

Martinez was unsurprisingly keen to focus on the first-half display, and in particular the performances of Barkley and Lukaku.

On Lukaku: ‘I thought at times he was unplayable. He will only get stronger. In the second-half at West Ham, he showed us what he can do. Today, he looked like a player enjoying playing, and feeling at home’. 

On Barkley: ‘It’s hard to explain how much he’s growing game by game. He’s getting better and better. He’s a good listener, and is quite a unique talent. His awareness of space, his great quality with both feet, and his good understanding with Romelu straight away gives us a good focal point of our attacking play.’

Alan Pardew labelled the first half display ‘unacceptable’.

‘The goals were poor. Defensively we have to be better than we are at the moment, for sure. The inconsistencies being shown were disturbing at some points.

There was a better balance in the team [in the second-half], and we came out with a bit of pride and almost a bit more than that. The goals we conceded were too easy, and we have to drill ourselves right [in preparation] for Cardiff.’

 

Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea

Tottenham and Chelsea had to settle for a point apiece as this pulsating London lunchtime derby between former mentor and protégé ended in a 1-1 draw.

Fernando Torres, who had been lucky to avoid a dismissal for an earlier show of dissent, received a controversial red card for an apparent elbow on Vertonghen which left the visitors a man short for the final ten minutes.

The result leaves Tottenham with a slender lead at the top of the Premier League over their North London neighbours Arsenal, with Chelsea a further point back in third prior to Saturday’s remaining fixtures. 

A frantic opening saw Lampard and Paulinho exchange speculative long-range drives, and Torres cut a forlorn figure as his claims for a free-kick fell on deaf ears. Seconds later, Tottenham were ahead.

Eriksen showed the first piece of class, manufacturing space on the left between Luiz ad Lampard, before chipping in a delightful cross into the feet of Soldado. His inviting lay-off was met by the onrushing Gylfi Sigurdsson, who having rode an out-stretched challenge by John Terry, slotted the ball into Cech’s bottom right corner.

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Tottenham had their tails up, and looked to capitalise on Chelsea’s disorientation. Ivanovic was forced into a last-ditched block to prevent Paulinho from doubling the lead in double-quick time. Naughton warmed the hands Cech from 25-yards. Tottenham fans were enjoying themselves, teasing Mourinho with chants of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ and ‘you’re not special any more’. 

The first half-hour belonged to the hosts, but the visitors slowly began to wrestle a foothold in the game, led by the talented Hazard.

As the half-time whistle approached, the game returned to the scrap for possession that had dominated the opening stages. Challenges started to fly in, with Vertonghen lucky to avoid a yellow card for a challenge on Torres.

This was Chelsea’s turn to enjoy a period of dominance. Hazard picked the pocket of Walker, but his left-foot drive was deflected wide off Vertonghen. Mikel started to win his personal tussle with Eriksen, and his cultured pass into Torres might have tested Lloris had it not been for Vertonghen’s intervention. 

Townsend was the first into the book for simulation. But this was the only blemish on an excellent first-half performance that was further enhanced by another purposeful run minutes later. The former QPR-loanee pulled Cahill out of position and his threaded pass found the trademark run of Paulinho, only for his effort to clip the outside of Cech’s left-hand upright. 

As half-time approached, Eriksen recieved a yellow card for holding back Oscar as the diminutive Brazilian, who had again shown his early-season promise with flashes of brilliance, looked to break clear. From the restart, Chelsea came closest to threatening an equaliser, with Terry meeting Ramires’ cross flush on the forehead, only to see his effort sail over the bar.

Chelsea began the second half well, Torres nearly found Oscar at the far post, but the Brazilian was just unable to wrap his foot around the ball.

Vertonghen did well to keep his cool after Torres appeared to scratch the Belgian’s face for which the Spaniard deservedly received a yellow card. Coupled with an earlier sarcastic applause directed towards referee Mike Dean, and Torres was lucky to still be on the field.  And the Chelsea number 9 was involved again moments later, as he showed signs of his former self with a run that left Dawson behind, only for Lloris to smother at his feet.

Mata had an effort correctly ruled out for offside, and Hazard might have done better when well-placed, only for his right-footed shot to trickle tamely into the hands of Lloris. 

The game was really living up to its pre-match billing by now, and Vertonghen became the fifth player to see a yellow card for a clattering challenge on Ramires. From the resulting free-kick, Chelsea were level. Mata’s exquisite in-swinging delivery was glanced past the hapless Lloris by John Terry. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

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Chelsea had grown into the game, and Mourinho clearly smelt blood with the introduction of André Schurrle for Eden Hazard. Tottenham responded in kind, bringing fresh legs on it the shape of Jermaine Defoe for Soldado.

But it was Mourinho’s substitute who had the first meaningful impact, as the German Schurrle was thwarted by the legs of the busy France goalkeeper Lloris.

Then came the game’s major talking-point as Mike Dean deemed Torres’ challenge on Vertonghen as worthy of a second yellow card.  Whilst it can be argued that the forward could easily have seen red earlier, the incident itself was harsh on the Spanish forward, who had been at the forefront of much of Chelsea’s best play,

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As a result, Chelsea looked to close the game out, with Azpilicueta replacing Oscar. Tottenham now had the upper-hand. Sigurdsson tried his luck with five minutes remaining that had Cech a spectator, but his dipping effort whistled past the post. Defoe then manoeuvered the ball onto his favoured right foot, only for his effort to be deflected wide. It was the final act of a frenetic affair that ended in a handshake between both managers with both appearing glad to come away with a share of the spoils. 

André Villas-Boas refused to discuss the future of his relationship with Mourinho afterwards, focusing his post-match analysis on the lack of ‘fluidity’ his side showed in the second-half.

‘The second half wasn’t as good as we wanted. Both of the teams had good chances…the chances were spread. A good opportunity just before half time could have been the killer. The result suits them better than us, but it was a tight game.’

José Mourinho criticised the play-acting of Vertonghen that he believed influenced Mike Dean in his dismissal of Torres.

‘The referee is not guilty. The player [Vertonghen] is guilty’.

‘They were better than us in the first half, but they created enough chances to be ahead.’

The Portuguese refused to be drawn to commenting on his much-documented spat with Villas-Boas.

‘[This is] between men, not children, this is not public. This is between us. This is not for you. What we gave was a very good football match. The referee tried his best, he made a big mistake, but we accept that.’

 

Can the loss of talisman Fellaini be to Everton’s advantage?

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With hours remaining of a transfer window that had been first drenched and then drowned in speculation surrounding many of the Barclays Premier League’s major stars, it was with an air of inevitability that once the dust had settled on the future of ‘wantaways’ Bale, Rooney and Suarez, it should once again be Everton who would foot the bill for a club that has shown an apparent lack of transfer strategy and forward-thinking during the Summer.

James McCarthy’s eleventh-hour switch from Wigan Athletic to The Toffees will help to offset the huge loss of Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United, but at more than £13 million, it is a huge gamble. With only one of Sunderland’s 14 signings being British, it is to be applauded that the Merseyside club have opted to give home-grown players the chance to establish themselves at an elite level, but the undeniable truth is that there has been a real dearth of quality emerging from big outlays by clubs in recent times on the next potential wonderkid to come from our shores.

For this reason, the Goodison outfit’s move to secure the year-long services of Gareth Barry – an established England international – can be viewed as one of the shrewdest moves of the summer’s transfer activity.  Solid if unspectacular, Barry’s decision to leave Eastlands may’ve gone under the radar by those who were taken in by some of the more mouth-watering prospects thrown up in the final splurges of Monday night, but the wealth of experience and versatility he shall bring will help the precocious talent of McCarthy to steadily develop in much the same way that Jack Rodwell showed signs of doing so towards the latter stages of last season alongside Barry at the Etihad Stadium.

While McCarthy’s arrival may be viewed by optimists as one for the future, and Barry’s short trip up the M62 by cynics as one coming a few seasons too late, surely most Evertonians will be buoyant at Martinez’s surprise loan move for Romelu Lukaku, who will be expected to hit the ground running following his impressive 17-goal haul last term at this level for West Bromwich Albion. Having seen Victor Anichebe follow Fellaini out the door in a £6 million move to the Hawthorns, Lukaku’s arrival is a welcome boost to a squad that would have otherwise been shorn of a physical presence.

The opening three games have seen a team struggling to adapt to the new manager’s desired style of play, dominating games without being able to penetrate teams through attacking with the necessary guile or tempo. Martinez would appear adamant that with patience, positive results will come to bear under his methods, and rather it was personnel that needed changing. The arrival of McCarthy was said to be in no way dependent upon Fellaini’s move to Old Trafford, and while a few may baulk at the fee paid for the Irishman, a case could be made that Martinez saw the Belgian’s presence as both disruptive to his system, as well as a hindrance in the development of McCarthy. Whatever the intentions of Martinez, £27.5 million represents a good deal for a player who signalled his desire to leave the club with only three hours of the window to spare – and who reportedly made up one half of a £28 million joint-bid which included Leighton Baines earlier in the summer.

It remains to be seen how this new-look Everton side shall line up when their Premier League campaign resumes at home to Chelsea in a fortnight’s time; likewise, only time will tell whether Martinez’s late trolley dash was fraught with panic, or a bold move at further strengthening a squad that had slowly been assembled by a predecessor whose overly cautious approach may still be his undoing as a manager.

Yet perhaps the most telling contributing factor to the Spaniard’s willingness to do business with Moyes over Fellaini was the huge promise Ross Barkley has shown in the month of August. Having made his debut over two years ago in a 1-0 home defeat to QPR, Barkley found his first team opportunities restricted under the old regime. Given the opportunity under new management, he has added a maturity to his undoubted talent thus far this term which suggests he is ready to become the new talisman idolised by the Gwladys Street faithful.