Monday 23 October 2017

Arteta's craft rallies Everton

Newcastle 1 Everton 2

Louise Taylor

An afternoon illuminated by the continuation of Mikel Arteta's recent Evertonian renaissance was spiced by sub-plots aplenty.

If you wanted acrimony, there was the ill-concealed dislike between Kevin Nolan and Victor Anichebe, while the second-half meeting of Cheik Tiote and Johnny Heitinga offered an archetypal clash of alpha males.

Those seeking something more subtle would have warmed to Leon Osman's skills, particularly when applied in tandem with Arteta's. But when it came to bravery, Shola Ameobi's spirited appearance in a facial mask protecting a fractured cheekbone took top marks.

Newcastle began with two right-backs, Steven Taylor and Danny Simpson, effectively doubling up on Arteta, who appeared in an unexpected wide-role down Everton's left.

Undaunted, the Spaniard more than rose to the challenge, torturing Taylor while establishing himself as the creative catalyst.

"Mikel was outstanding, creative, elusive and provided great work ethic," enthused Steve Round, David Moyes's assistant, who looked suitably relieved to see Everton atone for their disappointing FA Cup exit last Tuesday night.

Newcastle scored first, the fall-out from a free-kick permitting Nolan to whip in a cross which Ireland striker Leon Best nodded beyond Tim Howard to boost his goal tally to an extremely respectable six in 10 games. Arteta quickly captured centre stage, featuring in a lovely, defence-bisecting one-two.

Osman drifted in from the right and embarked on a surging run before slipping the ball out wide to Arteta. A cute cross with the outside of a Spanish right foot was followed by a seamless first-time, bottom corner-bound shot from Osman.

Moyes' side were soon in front courtesy of a free-kick won by Arteta, who let Leighton Baines deliver it.

Although Jermaine Beckford could not make a proper connection with the left-back's wonderful delivery, it fell to Phil Jagielka at the far post.

All that remained was for the defender to direct an unconventional close-range half-volley high into the net.

Pardew's team, lacking the injured Joey Barton and Stephen Ireland, displayed commendable determination as they strove to record their first home Premier League victory in a game kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday since August 2008.

"It was a fantastic effort from us," said Newcastle's manager. "But that little bit of quality was missing."

How Pardew must have wished he could have kidnapped Arteta.


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