Tactics Review: Newcastle United 3-2 Everton
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) December 28, 2014
Newcastle United tactics
Alan Pardew expected Everton to try to impose their usual possession-based style of play so the Magpies boss mentioned in his pre-match interview that his side needed to punish the Toffees on the break if they over-committed. Pardew also encouraged his side to commit forward in numbers to test Everton’s patched-up defence.
That meant that the Magpies had to defend in a solid 4-5-1 defensive formation with Ayoze Perez and Yoan Gouffran tracking back with Everton’s full-backs. In central midfield, Moussa Sissoko pressed from the top of a central midfield triangle, which included Jack Colback and Cheick Tiote, to match-up with Everton’s roaming central midfielders.
When in possession, Newcastle had to try to exploit the space that Everton’s full-backs leave on the break with the pace of Ayoze Perez and Yoan Gouffran down the flanks, while Sissoko used his powerful runs in possession to break wide from central midfield and supply the other forwards with service in the final-third.
When the Magpies had sustained possession full-backs Daryl Janmaat and Paul Dummett were allowed to push forward and provide width in attacks. Colback could also push forward from central midfield leaving Tiote as the holding midfielder.
In the offensive third, the three attacking midfielders, Perez, Sissoko and Gouffran, were free to float around with positional rotation while Papiss Cisse completed Newcastle’s attacking formation by playing off the last defender looking to run in behind and work the channels.
Roberto Martinez made a couple of interesting tactical decisions for this game. He kept faith in Everton’s usual style of play with Gareth Barry dropping into splitting central defenders to initiate play while full-backs simultaneously pushed on, but the personnel involved made this an interesting plan.
Leighton Baines started as a midfielder alongside James McCarthy, while Samuel Eto’o started as a left forward flanking Arouna Kone with Aiden McGeady in a 4-3-3 offensive formation.
Baines and Eto’o had to make crossing runs when attacking with Baines breaking wide from central midfield to supply width down the left flank, while Eto’o drifted inside from the left flank to float just behind Kone.
That meant that when in possession Everton had to release full-backs Luke Garbutt and Seamus Coleman into Newcastle’s half, while Barry sat in front of the central midfielders as the insurance.
In central midfield, McCarthy could push on to support play through the middle while McGeady needed to keep the width down the right flank, looking to provide service for Kone and the attacking midfielders.
When out of possession, Kone had to lead the pressing while Eto’o and McGeady dropped to press from the sides of midfield. In central midfield, Baines and McCarthy needed to harry Newcastle’s central midfielders, leaving Barry to mind the space in between the lines.
Key tactical changes
Everton were clearly not at their best for most of this game; they struggled to keep possession of the ball and they lacked their usual intensity when pressing for the ball so Newcastle recovered from Everton’s opener to dominate the game and score three goals.
With a 3-1 lead, Newcastle lowered their tempo and started to defend their own half with about 20 minutes left.
Martinez improved his side by adding Ross Barkley to provide a direct threat from central midfield, while Kevin Mirallas came on to operate as an inverted winger coming from the left flank.
That change improved Everton’s ball retention and ultimately their offensive threat in the last quarter of an hour. Eto’o switched to the right flank, where he frequently pushed high from midfield to support Romelu Lukaku.
Everton got a late second goal and they pushed on for a dramatic finish to the game but it was a bit too late for them to actually go on and avoid defeat.