It wasn’t a good night on Tyneside for Everton as they went down 1-0 to Newcastle United to record a third consecutive Premier League defeat.
But although always competitive, they were never really in this match and that has to be a little worrying for Frank Lampard’s Toffees’.
In some respects Everton and Newcastle United are similar clubs. Both are long-established and well-supported, despite little recent success and might claim to be ‘big’ clubs, at least they were in the past.
And both have had pretensions to try and break the Premier League glass ceiling and get Champions League football as well as try to win something at last under wealthy owners.
On the evidence of tonight’s match though it is clear which of them is the more likely to achieve that in the next few years, and it’s not the Toffees’.
As I said in my match preview, the Magpies with their new found wealth have spent well and the team have been gavanised and tangibly improved by Eddie Howe’s management.
Newcastle had the better of the first half with the excellent Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimares at the heart of most of their best play.
He and a player I picked out as being a special danger due to his excellent form in front of goal, Miguel Almiron, were the homes side’s outstanding performers.
Almiron scored the first half goal that proved enough to beat the Blues’ and after he is becoming a genuinely dangerous Premier League striker.
Everton could certainly do with someone like that at the moment. While they huffed and puffed the away team didn’t ever look like getting back on terms, let alone nicking it.
That one goal lead always looked like it would be enough, especially given the Toffees’ limp and largely toothless attack, which managed only one shot on target.
This was despite the return to the starting eleven of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, as Lampard gave the ex-England centre-forward his first start of the season.
Calvert-Lewin came in for Neal Maupay and while he looked pretty good (although he missed a header he should have made more of) and certainly worked hard for the team, he still looks a little short of sharpness and match fitness, unsurprisingly.
Following tonight’s game though, it’s clear Everton are really going to need him to rediscover his best form in front of goal and quickly.
The problems this team have creating and scoring goals is I fear potentially going to undermine the more general progress that has been made since the summer.
In many ways tonight’s loss was the most concerning of the last three defeats. Not only were the issues up front of which we are all aware, most starkly underlined again, but the Blues’ midfield wasn’t as sharp as it has been and couldn’t get hold of Guimares.
Lampard has previously said that this campaign while seeing progress, could well include more defeats than wins. It looks like that may indeed be the case.
While I’m not advocating a change in manager, Lampard is going to be under pressure soon if results like this keep coming and this team continues with such a puff-pastry attack and lack of goal threat.
However, it’s hard to see how he can radically improve things there before the January transfer window comes around.
After two straight away matches, Everton next have a big game at Goodison Park against Crystal Palace. They absolutely need to get something from that match.