Football Features

Newcastle 1-2 Everton: Calvert-Lewin once again proves he’s Ancelotti’s man

By CJ Smith

Published: 17:02, 28 December 2019

Carlo Ancelotti made it two wins from two as Everton manager as his side saw off Newcastle 2-1 at St James’ Park on Saturday.

A brace from Dominic Calvert-Lewin either side of Fabian Schär’s equaliser did the damage for the Toffees, who now leapfrog their opponents in the table, settling into 10th place at the full-time whistle.

So, what did we learn from another valuable win for Ancelotti’s Everton?

1. Calvert-Lewin could be Ancelotti’s man 

Calvert-Lewin’s commitment to the team and work rate have never been in question, but his accuracy in front of goal and killer instinct certainly have. However, the England youth international scored the winning goal against Burnley during Ancelotti’s first game in charge, which prompted the new Everton manager to lavish him with praise ahead of Saturday’s match.

“No. We didn’t talk about this but for sure I am not asking for a striker,” he responded when asked if he was targeting a new striker, adding on Calvert-Lewin: “He is a fantastic striker, I want him to play more central.”

Well, Calvert-Lewin certainly repaid the faith shown in him by this world-class manager, finding himself on hand in the box to turn home a scuffed Gylfi Sigurdsson shot as Everton took an early 1-0 lead at St James’ Park.

Newcastle managed to equalise in the 56th minute but who was on hand to restore Everton’s advantage? Calvert-Lewin, of course, scuffing home his second of the afternoon as the Toffees broke quickly and impressively via Theo Walcott and Richarlison.

Calvert-Lewin is still far from the finished product but at 22, has time firmly on his side, while he looks to have a real appetite to meet the challenges set of him by Ancelotti.

2. Carroll proves himself a lone handful

He didn’t score or manage to deliver a result for Newcastle, but Andy Carroll was by far and away the best player on the pitch for Steve Bruce’s side on Saturday.

Whether it was the thrill of playing in front of a lively St James’ Park or facing his old Merseyside derby rivals, the 30-year-old launched himself into every challenge, posed questions of the Everton defence that they’d normally only face against Duncan Ferguson in training, and never gave up the ghost.

Twenty-four successful aerial duels — one of which provided the assist for Schär’s goal — five shots and three key passes barely tell the story of Carroll’s superb individual performance. The big issue was, a Miguel Almiron drive here and there aside, he received no help up top and more often than not, his battling for the ball only fell to an Everton defender.

Carroll will be thrilled to have made it through another 90 minutes and can be pleased with his performance but Bruce simply must get players closer to him and make use of his talents if he’s to make the giant striker his focal point.

3. Sweet relief for the Toffees

Those grey clouds gathering around the blue half of Merseyside seem to be very quickly drifting away.

It seems ludicrous to think just 23 days separate Everton’s 5-2 Merseyside derby defeat at Anfield and this win at Newcastle, but what a turnaround we’ve seen.

That result right at the end of Marco Silva’s time in charge saw the Toffees drop into the relegation zone but with some fire restored by Ferguson during his interim spell, coupled with Ancelotti taking the reins, Everton’s win on Tyneside saw them catapult all the way up to 10th by the time the final whistle was blown.

Everton have obvious ambitions on European football and silverware but while that still looks a way off yet, they’re now taking firm steps in the right direction.

4. Festive jeer for Bruce

Heading into the festive period, Newcastle fans will have been quietly optimistic of their team’s chances of advancing further up the table, given their form beforehand. Safe to say, recent results haven’t been kind to the Magpies.

This defeat to Everton makes it three in four for Bruce’s men, who were crushed 4-1 by Man Utd on Boxing Day despite taking a 1-0 lead at Old Trafford.

The defeat on Saturday sees Newcastle leapfrogged in the table by Everton and while the performances put in by Carroll and Almiron, as well as the defensive solidity the Magpies have shown at times this season suggests they’re in no danger of going down, seven points isn’t a comfortable cushion for any side, with 18 games still remaining for those behind them to pick up points.

Next up is Leicester City on New Year’s Day — will the Foxes have a point to prove after a tough festive period themselves?

5. Solidity still the key for Ancelotti

Results have obviously been priority number one of Ancelotti since stepping through the door at Goodison Park and to get them, he needed to improve a defence which had struggled time and again under Silva.

Against Burnley, he opted to field Djibril Sidibe as a right-winger and played hybrid 4-4-2, 5-4-1 and 4-3-3 systems in order to tighten things up at the back.

On Saturday, he once again lined up in a 4-4-2, but his side had a clear gameplan to go out, get in Newcastle’s faces and defend with tenacity and energy.

The Toffees out-tackled Newcastle 31-20 at St James’ Park, with playmaker Sigurdsson making a joint-match-high of seven himself. Furthermore, moving forwards, Ancelotti will want to see his side be more progressive with playing out from the back but right now, they need to get back to basics.

Everton made 32 clearances against Newcastle and rather than overcomplicate things, the likes of Mason Holgate, Michael Keane and even goalkeeper Jordan Pickford sought to get it down the other end, where the likes of Calvert-Lewin and the lively Moise Kean could catch Newcastle cold and use their pace to get at Martin Dubravka’s goal.

Ancelotti’s personal stamp will come in time but right now, he’s doing a great job carrying on the improvements made under Ferguson.