The Blues put Newcastle to the sword
Monday night’s opening 45 minutes of play was as fluid an attacking spectacle as has been seen at Goodison in recent times.
If the narrative of Everton’s opening three games was that our play was one dimensional and lacking penetration, then the story of the last three has been that we have the attacking options and fluidity to blow away any side in the league.
The influence last month’s transfer deadline purchases have had on our fortunes cannot be underestimated.
Romelu Lukaku’s display demonstrated the kind of pace, power and quality that we have not seen in equal measure from a forward for some time.
In addition, his ability to push defenders back and play in Ross Barkley closer to goal in wider spaces was a delightful by-product.
Everton’s dominance was significantly boosted by a midfield boasting great balance and composure on the ball in the shape of Gareth Barry and James McCarthy, whose rapid impact on the Toffees’ charge may have surpassed the dreams of even the most optimistic bluenose.
Despite the Newcastle fightback, this was a really assured Everton display and one that showed we have a more direct ‘Plan B’ to accompany the possession-based game.
It leaves us nicely ensconced in fourth spot with plenty of confidence going into the weekend trip to Manchester City.
During his career City’s new boss Manuel Pellegrini has been the master underdog, taking a fairly ordinary Malaga to the brink of the UEFA Champions League semi-final last season – a feat he achieved with little-known Villarreal back in 2005 after controversially beating us over two legs in the qualifier.
So far, City’s form has been rather patchy; at home it’s been ruthless with four wins and 15 goals from their four domestic games, but on the road they have registered just a solitary point.
We have, of course, experienced great success against City home and away in recent years when we’ve compressed the centre and forced City to use the flanks knowing that they prefer to play through the middle.
Their new variable is Jesus Navas, an old fashioned right-footed winger who provides the pace and width City have tended to lack to really stretch us.
The Citizens have a weakness between their rather attack-minded central midfield duo and the central defensive axis where space tends to open up more, and if we can find Barkley in this zone enough times we have a great chance of getting something from the game.
With City’s 100% home record and our status as the top flight’s only unbeaten team something has to give; and on current form it’d take a brave punter to bet against this Everton side.