Premier League 2019/20: Newcastle vs Everton- tactical analysis

Premier League 2019/20: Newcastle vs Everton - tactical analysis tactics

Carlo Ancelotti took charge of his second game as Everton manager away to Newcastle in the Premier League. Everton will feel elated that they were able to attract a manager with such pedigree to their club. Ancelotti certainly pleased the home fans in his first game in charge by beating Burnley 1-0 at Goodison Park. However, Ancelotti had to face a well organised Newcastle team under Steve Bruce away from home which is a much sterner test. Steve Bruce has made his team very difficult to beat coupled with the fact that they have blistering pace on the counter-attack. This set up an intriguing encounter is to what Ancelotti would tactically implement in his team to counteract Newcastle’s clear strategy.

The game was certainly intriguing between Newcastle and Everton as Everton came out as 2-1 winners on the day.  Everton broke the deadlock first but Newcastle dominated the first half and were rewarded with a goal 10 minutes after the half time break. Ancelotti immediately responded with a few tactical changes, which I will go through in this tactical analysis. Everton with these tactical changes effectively won the game.


Premier League 2019/20: Newcastle vs Everton - tactical analysis tactics

Steve Bruce set up his Newcastle side in a 3-5-2 formation. Bruce made four changes to his Newcastle side that lost to Manchester United on boxing day. DeAndre Yedlin came in to replace Manquillo in the right wing-back position. Jonjo Shelvey and Hayden came into the central midfield positions replacing Matthew and Sean Longstaff. The other major change in the Newcastle team was the inclusion of Andy Carroll up front replacing Gayle which added an aerial threat to Newcastle’s attack.

Carlo Ancelotti tinkered with his Everton side by changing his formation from a 3-4-2-1 to a traditional 4-4-2 for this game. Ancelotti also made changes to the personnel in his team making five changes to his side that won against Burnley. Michael Keane and Baines came into the Everton defence replacing Mina and Digne. Walcott started in the right-wing position which saw Sidibe moved back to right-back replacing Coleman. Tom Davies replaced Delph in the pivot alongside Sigurdsson. Ancelotti last change saw out of favour Moise Kean start upfront with Calvert-Lewin which resulted in Richarlison moving to the left flank. Ancelotti was clearly wary of Newcastle’s devastating counter-attack so set his team up more defensively.

Newcastle target Everton’s right flank

Although Ancelotti tried to set his Everton team up more defensively, Newcastle very early in the game identified a weakness in Everton’s defence- Everton’s right side.  Everton’s right-back Sidibe essentially played as a right-winger against Burnley in his last game. Sidibe did not adjust well early on in the game to his positional change as he was caught pressing too high up the pitch leaving space for Newcastle players in behind. When Newcastle won the ball or played the ball out of the back, Sidibe kept trying to press Newcastle’s midfield high up the pitch. Either Almiron or Joelinton would move from a central position and out on the left-wing in the space vacated from Sidibe’s action. Newcastle were able to create opportunities as a result of Sidibe’s defensive ill-discipline.

In the image below, Sidibe pressed Newcastle too high up the pitch leaving his right-back position thus Newcastle had space to exploit. Joelinton recognised where the space was and moved out to the left-wing where he was picked out with a ball forward. Sidibe is too far forward to get back to make a defensive recovery run. Almiron runs off the ball in a central position which creates a 2v1 with Keane the Everton defender. The Newcastle attack ends in a chance for Almiron but his shot is saved by Pickford.

Premier League 2019/20: Newcastle vs Everton - tactical analysis tactics Sidibe eventually recognised that his actions were leading to goal scoring opportunities so he began to sit in his right-back position. However, Sidibe was not the only culprit in passing his defensive responsibilities on the right flank for Everton. Walcott was caught ball watching and not tending to his defensive man-marking duties when Everton did not have possession. Willems capitalised on Walcott not tracking his runs as he cleverly stayed wide and became the out ball for Newcastle as they targeted Everton’s right side when attacking. In the image below, Walcott gets caught ball watching and gets drawn infield. Willems stays out wide left and is free to receive the ball. Sidibe is doing his job and is in the right-back position but as Almiron receives the ball Sidibe is outnumbered with a 2v1 in favour of Newcastle. Walcott is scrambling back and gestures to Sidibe to take the run of Willems but Walcott is too far away to even cover Almiron so Sidibe is left with the challenge of defending two Newcastle players. Newcastle were finding joy and it was their main attacking avenue. Willems was taking advantage of the space and terrorised Everton ending the day with 3 key passes only matched by Richarlison for the most in the game.

Premier League 2019/20: Newcastle vs Everton - tactical analysis tactics

Newcastle set up to win second balls on both sides of the ball

By including Andy Carroll in the starting lineup Steve Bruce effectively gave away the way he tactically wanted his Newcastle team to play. With Andy Carroll being such an aerial threat, as I mentioned earlier, Bruce looked to focus his teams attacking play around Andy Carroll’s strengths in the air. So instead of playing the ball out from the back and through the lines Newcastle instead looked to hit long direct balls in the air to Andy Carroll. Newcastle were not just hitting aimless balls up to Andy Carroll Steve Bruce tactically set up his team to get around and close to Carrolls to ensure they won seconds ball from the knockdowns. Jonjo Shelvey and Hayden in the middle of midfield were key in Newcastle winning the second as Steve Bruce clearly instructed them to get close to Carroll and ball side to ensure they won the knockdowns off Carroll, as you can see in the image below. This tactic was the platform for Newcastle’s attacking moves and to progress high up the pitch. Steve Bruce spend hours with his Newcastle working on this tactic and it showed as Everton found it difficult to cope with Carroll in the air and Newcastle’s ability win second balls high up the pitch.

Premier League 2019/20: Newcastle vs Everton - tactical analysis tactics

Everton did get a goal from a free-kick that dropped to Calvert-Lewin who finished it to give Everton a 1-0 lead. After the opening goal, Everton struggled to control the game. Newcastle kept hitting long direct balls to Carroll that pinned Everton in their own half. Everton were under so much pressure that they resorted to hitting hopeful high balls to Calvert-Lewin and Kean upfront. Newcastle, however, had the numerical advantage s they had three centre backs against Everton’s two strikers so it was easy for Newcastle to deal with. Newcastle were not just good at winning second balls off Carroll, they were equally as good at winning second balls in the defensive phase as well. Newcastle’s four midfielders were very good at getting ball side of their men after the ball went over their heads as Everton hit those long balls to Calvert-Lewin and Kean. Newcastle were able to win the second balls and instantly start another attack, as you can see in the image below. Newcastle’s sustained pressure on Everton ended in an equalising goal just after the interval.

Premier League 2019/20: Newcastle vs Everton - tactical analysis tactics


Ancelotti responds after Newcastle’s goal with tactical changes

Five minutes after Newcastle equalised to make it 1-1. Ancelotti tactically changed his side in an attempt to gain control of the game. Ancelotti brought on Delph for Kean and he went straight into the double pivot alongside Sigurdsson. Delph’s substitution also came to a different formation as Ancelotti set up his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Tom Davies moved to the left-wing position which resulted in Richarlison moving into the attacking midfield position. This tactical change meant that Everton had a numerical advantage in the middle. Delph and Sigurdsson dropped deep to receive the ball off their centre backs which drew out Newcastle’s two midfielders in Hayden and Shelvey. With Shelvey and Hayden pressing high on Everton’s double pivot this left space in behind for Richarlison and Davies who came infield off his wing, as you can see in the image below. Everton, therefore, had an out ball in midfield so could progress the ball forward to a man in space.

Premier League 2019/20: Newcastle vs Everton - tactical analysis tactics

Ancelotti tactical change was instantly effective, three minutes after Delph came on and Everton changed formation Newcastle could not adapt to the changes and Everton scored a goal to take the lead. In the image below, Everton are playing out from the back and Keane is pressed by Hayden. Keane has an out ball in Richarlison as Sigurdsson and Delph daw Newcastle’s out of the central area leaving Richarlison in space. Richarlison links with Walcott down the right and crosses the ball for Calvert-Lewin in the box to score.

Premier League 2019/20: Newcastle vs Everton - tactical analysis tactics

After taking the lead once more Ancelotti was smart and made more tactical changes as he brought on Coleman and took off Walcott. Ancelotti changed his Everton sides formation once more going back to the formation he played against Burnley setting his team up in a 3-4-1-2. Coleman went to right centre back to make a three at the back which created two wing-backs.  Davies moved into the attacking midfield position as Richarlison went up front with Calvert-Lewin. Everton formed a 5-3-2 out of possession and defended quite deep and compact, as you can see in the image below. This tactical change by Ancelotti made it difficult for Newcastle to break down Everton and create chances. Ancelotti’s tactical change ensured Everton seen out the game and take all three points.

Premier League 2019/20: Newcastle vs Everton - tactical analysis tactics


Steve Bruce tactically set out his Newcastle team really well against a highly motivated Everton side. Brue set up tactics played to his team’s strengths and identify weaknesses in Everton’s defensive play. Newcastle for large periods of the game pressured and controlled Everton to regain the ball and set up attacking moves. Ancelotti, however, showed why he is such a top-quality manager as he adapted and changed his team tactically depending what his Everton side needed whether to score more goals or to see out the game he set his team up accordingly, as shown in this analysis.

Steve Bruce will feel his Newcastle side deserved something from the game as they dominated and controlled the ball for large periods. Newcastle suffered their first defeat at home and ended their run of eight-game unbeaten at home. As a result, Newcastle drop into the bottom half of the table having lost the last two games. Conversely, Everton moves into the top half of the Premier League table as they are unbeaten in the last five games. Ancelotti will be delighted of the charter of his team and keeps his 100% record intact. Everton record consecutive league wins for the first time this season as they look to move up the table.

Total Football Analysis Magazine #16: December 2019

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