The run goes on with little or no sign of stopping. Another game has come and gone, another missed opportunity to halt this terrible run of form.
This time it was the predictable sight of Wayne Rooney who’d inflict another loss on the Magpies, although the result could, and should have been so different.
Buoyed by the recent appointment of Sam Allardyce, Everton had come into the game on a better run of form, pushing their way to 11th in the table. This recent success has been built on a run of 3 clean sheet in 4 games if you include this one.
It should have been a clean sheet for Newcastle too, and but for a poor mistake from keeper Darlow it would have been.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Redline, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo, Merino (Perez, 86), Shelvey, Atsu, Diame (Joselu, 67), Ritchie (Aarons, 74), Gayle
Rafa chose to sacrifice a holding player in order to allow Merino and Shelvey to combine for a rare start together.
The tactics, whilst leaving room between the lines for Rooney and Sigurdsson seemed to be working well from the start as Newcastle dominated possession, looking dangerous against an Everton side who looked solid and organised as you’d expect under Big Sam.
Rafa’s men could have been ahead after just 3 minutes when Lejeune put a header from a corner just wide. The then SHOULD have been ahead on 22 minutes when good build up play saw Ritchie break clear of the defence only to see his drive come thundering back off the inside of the post and back into play.
That missed chance would prove costly as within 5 minutes Everton were ahead. An Everton shot from the edge of the box should have been either held or pushed away to safety by Darlow. Instead he only managed to palm the ball down in front of goal, and with Rooney reacting quickest to stab home it was 1-0 Everton.
Newcastle United, for their part, would pile everything forward for the remainder of the game with Everton content to soak it up and try and hit Newcastle on the break.
United would again hit the post on 37 minutes, when one of the best hit strikes you’ll see at St James Park for a while by Merino would hit the inside of the other upright before going across the goalmouth and to safety on the other side of the goal. SO unlucky.
Newcastle would press second half without getting any closer than that, ‘enjoying’ 55% of possession and 16 shots to Everton’s 7. No matter, there would be no breakthrough.
There was still time for Shelvey to get himself a second yellow with seconds of injury time remaining, reducing Newcastle to 10 men for around 30 seconds. That red was inconsequential as far as this game goes but Rafa will not be happy to have lost a midfield option over such a busy Christmas period. Idiotic really!