Newcastle 0 v 3 Everton: The Blues produce their most complete away performance to date under Martinez to send clear message to Champions League chasing rivals
[quote]Bold, brave and fearless young players can produce unforgettable moments and this was certainly a moment in time to savour[/quote]
Everton boss Roberto Martinez is savouring a potentially thrilling run-in to the Premier League season as his team dispatched Newcastle United in emphatic style on Tuesday night. And given the manner of the victory the Catalan is not alone.
After the most dynamic away display of the Spaniards short Everton tenure, perhaps even the most battle fatigued Evertonians are allowing themselves to dream of Champions League qualification.
If there were any doubts the Toffees were in the mix for a coveted 4th place finish they were put to rest with a professional, clinical and at times breathtaking show at St James’ Park. Everton’s front three of Lukaku, Deulofeu and Barkley were at times unplayable, and it would be the Everton and England protege who stunned the 47,000 inside the stadium with a spectacular goal combining skill, grace, vision and sheer power.
This 3-0 win, combined with nearest rivals Arsenal dropping two points at home to struggling Swansea City, now leaves Martinez’s Everton six points away from the North Londoners with a game to the good. Crucially, the Gunners have to travel to Goodison Park on April 6th but not before they host championship chasing Manchester City at the Emirates.
“We have got Arsenal to play at home, we have got Manchester United and Manchester City, so in that respect it’s a really good fixture list for us, very glamorous,” said Martinez.
“Looking at the run we have at Goodison allows us to play with confidence, so you never know.
“But I do feel that this season, the league could spring a few surprises from now until the end in every single area.”
“There are going to be a lot of twists and turns. I just think you can’t look elsewhere.
“I am just looking at the points tally. I just feel if we can get anywhere near 71, 72 points and that gets us into the Champions League, it will be an outstanding achievement.
“If that doesn’t get us into the Champions League, it will be a phenomenal season from our point of view, so I am not looking elsewhere at all.”
After a somewhat shaky start, in which the hosts came close to taking an early lead, Everton soon gained control of the game and should have led as Lukaku, collecting a laser guided through ball from Leon Osman, was denied by Tim Krul. The traveling Evertonians wouldn’t have to wait long for the deadlock to be broken.
With 22 minutes on the clock, Ross Barkley collected a sublime chest pass from Gerard Deulofeu and set off on a scintillating 70-yard run that would eventually see the 20-year old smash the ball into the roof of the Newcastle net. That this stunning goal came from a Newcastle corner was a warning the Magpies failed, or were unable to heed. It was classic counter-attacking based on pace, power, precision and the fearlessness of Everton’s three young and dynamic strikers.
Newcastle simply had no answer.
As Ross Barkley bared down on the Newcastle penalty area, perhaps there was only one Evertonian who wasn’t screaming at the 20-year old to release Lukaku – and that was the Wavertree born Barkley himself. Bold, brave and fearless young players can produce unforgettable moments and this was certainly a moment in time to savour.
Fully aware of their presence but choosing to ignore his teammates, Barkley slalomed his way across the Newcastle penalty box to produce an emphatic left-foot finish beyond Tim Krul. Stand-in Newcastle manager John Carver later described the goal as “sheer genius.” He was right.
His manager Roberto Martinez was similarly full of adoration for a young-man destined for football greatness:
“That’s Ross Barkley,” he said. “Not many players can score that sort of goal.”
“When you are running with that power and that strength, after 25, 30 yards, you can’t really control your legs anymore.
“Ross Barkley is technically as good as you are going to get, but he has got that physicality to go with it, so that goal typifies what Ross Barkley is.”
“He has such a variety of strengths,” said the Everton manager. “He can do things only top players can do. I don’t think he has a like-for-like as a footballer.
“Sometimes he does things that remind you of Michael Ballack; at times it’s Paul Gascoigne.
“Technically, he is as gifted as you are going to see. But what shocks you is the physicality that goes with it.
“On top of that is the character. Nothing distracts him from his role. He is a really down-to-earth, modern footballer. He loves Everton and all he wants to do is enjoy his football and score goals. He is a joy to work with.”
Newcastle remained in the game after Barkley’s stunner although the Magpies rarely troubled Tim Howard in the Everton goal. The Blues, at times playing a fluid 4-4-3 formation which allowed both Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman to provide extra cover for John Stones and Sylvain Distin, were able to keep the Newcastle attack at arms length.
It was a solid and professional defensive display that lay the foundations for their own searing counter-attacking football. On 53 minutes Romelu Lukaku was on hand to slide in the impressively direct Gerard Deulofeu’s pinpoint cross from the right.
Everton somehow managed to survive a scare as Vernon Anita inexplicably shot wide from 6-yards after good work from Newcastle sub’ Ben Arfa. Everton finally removed any doubt they would return to Goodison with all three points as Leon Osman gleefully found the top corner of Krul’s net after yet another rapier-like counter.
Martinez had spoken earlier of his side not getting the just rewards for dominant away displays but his attacking stars aligned perfectly at St James’ Park on Tuesday night. The balance of experience and the exuberance of youth leaving Newcastle reeling and Everton returning to Merseyside as the king’s of the castle.
Meanwhile, in North London, a seemingly nailed-on but now struggling Arsenal will be looking nervously over their shoulders at a resurgent Everton.
The race for fourth is well and truly on.