Newcastle United vs. Everton: 6 Things We Learned
A stunning solo effort from youngster Ross Barkley set the Toffees on their way in the first-half before further strikes from Romelu Lukaku and Leon Osman sealed all three points.
The Magpies remain in eighth ahead of this weekend’s trip to Southampton, and after a dominating display from Roberto Martinez’s men, Bleacher Report takes a look at six things that were learned on Tyneside.
Ross Barkley Can Be England’s Secret World Cup Weapon
It is fitting that Everton’s Ross Barkley drew direct comparisons to Paul Gascoigne on the same pitch that the former Newcastle United star plied his trade on as a teenager.
Barkley’s composed finish after a mesmerising run from inside his own half was a moment to savour for the 20-year-old, and one Gazza himself would have been proud of.
His seat on the plane to Brazil as part of England’s squad is looking more secure by the week, with the former Sheffield Wednesday loanee making his international debut during qualifying.
If he makes half the impact Gascoigne did during his breakthrough World Cup in 1990, it could turn out to be a summer to remember for the Liverpool-born youngster.
Hatem Ben Arfa Must Start in Newcastle’s Next Game
As an impact substitute, Hatem Ben Arfa has breathed life into Newcastle United during their last two games, and threw his team a lifeline after coming on against Everton.
On Saturday, the Frenchman lit up an otherwise lifeless fixture against Crystal Palace, producing the cross for Papiss Cisse to score a last-gasp winner at St. James’ Park.
Following his introduction against Everton, the 27-year-old manufactured a clear-cut opportunity for the Magpies to get back into the game—only for Vurnon Anita to fluff his lines in front of goal.
Opinion was split ahead of Ben Arfa’s recent comeback, with many citing inconsistency as his chief weakness. However, his quick feet and ability to run at the opposition has brought some much-needed invention to the Toon.
Some 86 percent of readers of Newcastle fanzine The Mag voted for him to start against Everton. That figure could well be higher ahead of Saturday’s trip to Southampton.
Everton Have a Champions League Spot in Their Sights
The Gunners are currently six points ahead of the Merseyside outfit, and at first glance, appear to be in a strong position when it comes to securing the final Champions League spot.
However, the fixture list tells a different story, and the next two weekends could feasibly see the Toffees enter the top four ahead of the run-in with a game in hand.
Seven days later, the pair go head-to-head at Goodison Park in a game that could define both of their seasons.
Luuk De Jong Is Not the Answer to Newcastle’s Striker Needs
It’s no secret that Newcastle United struggle to score goals when Loic Remy is not in the starting XI. The signing of Luuk De Jong in January was designed to alleviate that burden.
However, the Dutchman has failed to find the net in any of his eight appearances, and appears to be struggling with the physical nature and tempo of the Premier League.
In his last two games, the on-loan Borussia Monchengladbach forward has been substituted before the hour, and in truth has made very little impact since his arrival.
His height was admittedly put to good use during the 4-1 win at Hull City earlier this month, but the Magpies need goals, and so far De Jong hasn’t looked like providing them.
Romelu Lukaku’s Stock Continues to Rise
Romelu Lukaku has grabbed 13 goals this season. His reputation has continued to rise along with his reported £25 million price tag.
The 20-year-old ran Newcastle United’s defenders ragged at St. James’ Park on Tuesday, and his instinctive strike in the 52nd minute to put his team in the driving seat was fully deserved.
In Loic Remy, the Toon have their own 13-goal forward on loan from a West London club. If Alan Pardew wants to follow up his alleged interest in Lukaku, he would have to break the bank to get his man.
Newcastle’s Season Is in Danger of Petering out
With 46 points on the board, Newcastle United find themselves in the Premier League equivalent of no man’s land.
Seemingly out of the race for European football that is hotting up above them, and nine points clear of Stoke City in 10th place, the Magpies have little to play for but pride.
However, this perspective will not wash on the terraces at St. James’ Park, which were all but deserted by the time the referee blew the final whistle to put the Toon out of their misery on Tuesday.
Commitment to the cause is the minimum requirement as far as Newcastle’s fans are concerned, and certain players must prove themselves over the next few weeks before it’s too late.