What The Papers Say - Thursday 3 January
A round-up of Thursday's local and national newspapers.
The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
Losing games, losing their best player and top scorer. Relegation alarm bells should be ringing at Newcastle.
A disastrous run of form lasting two months has left Alan Pardew's men teetering on the brink, two points above the drop zone and in danger of repeating their demotion of 2009.
Add to that the fact that Demba Ba, who's scored half their goals this season is poised to sign for Chelsea today, and another miserable home defeat to Everton last night, and the signs are worrying.
They should have enough quality when their best players return, but.....
Pardew said last night: "We can't hide it, we are right in it now, and we want to get out of it. We have had an awful run."
Sub Victor Anichebe notched the winner for David Moyes' proficient, ruthless side as the Merseysiders keep pace with the top five in the sort of marvelous season Newcastle themselves were having this time last year. This was a fourth win in six games for Everton.
It added up to Newcastle's tenth defeat in 13 games in all competitions. They kind of slump that would have seen off Newcastle bosses of old, but Pardew has an eight year contract and mitigating factors chiefly injuries to key players.
Another stats is Newcastle having won just twice in 15 games in all competitions since the start of November. When that sort of form becomes engrained it is time to worry.
Pardew admitted: "It is testing in so much as I find myself in a unfathomable position, with so many players missing for key games. We can look and say what have we done wrong? But none of the injuries have happened because of lack of preparation. We have not had our best side out all year. We need to get as many as possible out, and start winning games.
"Everton had more guile, experience and quality, and that is what we have to bring back. We have to take heart from our performances but we need new bodies in, and bodies out of the treatment room."
Anichebe did the damage and had the last word on the hour, finishing off a sweeping Everton counter attack that left Newcastle's defence flat footed.
Nikica Jelavic gathered the ball on the left and sprinted at Fabricio Coloccini before crossing low six yards out. It was an impossible ball to defence and Anichebe stabbed home.
It must have been a satisfying moment for the super substitute striker. Not only his fourth league goal of the campaign, scored within 90 seconds of coming on for Gary Naismith, but also at the ground where he broke his leg four years ago in a career threatening injury.
Moyes said: "He didn't half play well holding the ball up when he came on. It was a really well worked goal."
Leighton Baines had equalised with a sweet free kick from 35 yards out that went through the Newcastle wall and swerved late to deceive Tim Krul.
It was a a wonderful goal, set up by a controversial foul when Fabricio Coloccini and Cheick Tiote challenged Marouane Felaini.
Baines is a gem of a player who was Everton's greatest attacker, prime play maker and scorer rolled into one. The goal meant Everton have scored 18 times in a row, the best run in the league this season.
Moyes said: "Bainsey came up with a worldie to get us level. Ashely Cole is the best left back in England but Leighton Baines is getting close. He is disappointed he has not scored three goals tonight.
"I hope we are strong finishers. We have been a good second half of the season team. If we do that again we can compete with the teams at the top. Whether we will have enough time will tell."
The only consolation for Newcastle was seeing Papiss Cisse score as Ba departed.
Cisse took just 73 seconds to consign Demba Ba to Newcastle United history.
Ba was pulled from Newcastle's starting line up six hours before kick of and he travelled to Chelsea for talks over a pds 7.5 million transfer. Boss Alan Pardew confirming the deal was "done" just before kick off.
So it was up to the Senegal No9 make his mark in what has been a lean season so far, with his strike partner claiming all the goals and plaudits.
Cisse immediately seized the initiative notching his sixth of the season. It was a simple affair that will annoy David Moyes. Keeper Tim Krul punted a long ball that was headed on by Ba's direct replacement Shola Ameobi.
It bounced and found Cisse for a looping header over Tim Howard. "Are you watching Demba Ba?" came the ruthless chant from the Gallowgate End.
Cisse will have to score more regularly to extract Newcastle from their slump.
Amid all the news and noise of the Demba Ba developments, Everton arrived on Tyneside almost under the radar but with serious business of their own. A vital commodity called momentum was top of the Evertonian agenda. Like everything else in football, it can be bought and sold.
Last January both of these clubs acquired it - Everton with Nikica Jelavic and Newcastle with Papiss Demba Cisse - but Ba’s departure has left St James’ Park feeling void. Alan Pardew’s side cannot get back what they had last season - and the result from Stamford Bridge added to the chill factor.
But it warmed David Moyes. Although Sunday’s loss at Goodison Park to Chelsea was Everton’s first in eight matches and was unlucky, it could have had a disproportionate effect on Moyes’s players. A big reason for that are called Tottenham Hotspur. While it is generally, understandably accepted that Everton have had an impressive first half of the season, certainly more impressive than normal for such slow starters, the December form of Tottenham has squeezed the top of the Premier League.
Since losing to two late goals at Goodison, Spurs have taken 13 points from 15. So, although that loss to Chelsea was only Everton’s third in 20 league games, another here would have left them closer to Swansea in eighth than to Tottenham in third.
This mattered: and after six minutes of injury time Everton had eased themselves above Arsenal into fifth. Tottenham, in third, remain in sight.
‘Whether we’ll have enough or be good enough, time will tell,’ Moyes said. ‘Maybe we’re getting better, but we still needed Tim Howard.’
Moyes’s team were disciplined and as determined as their manager. They recovered from a second-minute header from Cisse after Johnny Heitinga had barged into Sylvain Distin causing both to miss Tim Krul’s punt.
Howard, later to make significant blocks, was stranded and helpless. But the Blues also possess skill. Leighton Baines showed that with a rocket of a free-kick. It looked 35 yards out but soared past Krul, and it gave Everton momentum for the second half. That was aided by the return of Marouane Fellaini after his three-match ban for confronting Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross. Fellaini was effective, committed, influential. It was his touch to Jelavic that led to substitute Victor Anichebe prodding in the visitors’ second.
Moyes - and Anichebe - will have felt justice was done there. In the September match between these two, Anichebe had a goal not given, though it was well over the line. He also had a bad memory of St James’, having broken his leg here three years ago, and Moyes added that he hopes the striker will ‘believe in himself more’.
Ba’s 90th-minute equaliser was a sickener in September. It turns out that that was the beginning of the end for Ba and Newcastle.
Everton, meanwhile, picked themselves up. It is a quality Pardew mentioned in his programme notes, and again afterwards. He also emphasised the ‘experience’ Everton had on display, another one of those precious commodities.
Newcastle United's bleak midwinter continues. Alan Pardew's injury-hit side have now lost nine of their last 11 Premier League games and, despite there being much to applaud about their contribution to an exhilarating match, life after Demba Ba may not be easy.
Everton headed back across the Pennines still harbouring very real hopes of Champions League qualification but David Moyes's side will know they might have struggled to collect all three points had it not been for another superlative performance from Leighton Baines. The left-back scored the equaliser and his crossing and dead-balls kicking tormented Newcastle throughout to the extent that he might easily have completed a hat-trick.
"To come to St James' Park you have to play very well because you are going to come up against one of the top teams in the Premier League," said Moyes. "I think Newcastle are in a false position. They're a strong team with a strong manager."
Pardew needs such staunch support right now. "Let's be honest, we're on an awful run," he said. "Everton had a little bit more guile, a little more quality, a little more experience. I need to get some players out of the treatment room and my best side out on the pitch because I can't hide that we're right in trouble."
Even so Moyes's players were insufficiently wary when, in the second minute, their defence misread Tim Krul's long punt forward. With both Johnny Heitinga and Sylvain Distin missing the ball, it fell to Papiss Cissé, running beyond them, to direct a looping header over Tim Howard and into the net."Are you watching Demba Ba?" chorused the Gallowgate end. The Senegal striker had fled the city earlier in the day, high-tailing it to Heathrow for talks with Chelsea after the west London club triggered the £7m release clause in his contract. "Demba goes with our blessing," said Pardew.
After seeing his side concede 11 goals in their previous two games – admittedly against Manchester United and Arsenal – the manager knew Mike Ashley, Newcastle's owner, would expect an improvement. Aiming to deliver it, Pardew replaced Ba with Shola Ameobi – who it seems will not now be playing for Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations after all – in a fluid 4–2–3–1 formation with Cissé stationed wide on the right.
If the Senegalese's opener offered Pardew hope, however, Moyes's side could have swiftly equalised when a typically swerving Baines free-kick seemed goal-bound until Krul somehow diverted it for a corner.
The Merseyside club were starting to find their range, although they were betrayed by Marouane Fellaini's heavy touch which enabled Davide Santon to make a vital interception as the Belgian shaped to shoot. At the other end James Perch's header rebounded off a post and Mathieu Debuchy, the watching France right-back – expected to finalise his £5.5m move from Lille on Thursday – must surely have been impressed by his new team-mates' endeavours.
Debuchy, may, however be relieved to learn that Newcastle have now played Everton twice in the league, thereby dictating that, any FA Cup pairing excepted, he will not have to keep an eye on Baines this season. "I wish I'd had Debuchy here in time to mark Baines," Pardew added. "We could have done with him."
Everton can never be underestimated from set pieces – and especially not when a left-back Moyes believes is now England's best is taking them. So it proved shortly before half-time when Baines's equalising free-kick, awarded for a rather soft foul on Fellaini, left Pardew shaking his head.
Delivered at vicious velocity from at least 35 yards it dipped and curved, thoroughly deceiving Krul. The Dutch goalkeeper had earlier saved superbly from Pienaar after the South African met Baines's beautifully weighted through-pass but he could not adjust his position in time to make a stop this time.
Newcastle, who thought they might have had a penalty when Ameobi crumpled under Phil Neville's challenge, tried to raise the tempo once more but Moyes's decision to replace Steven Naismith with Victor Anichebe was to prove hugely inspired. Almost immediately after coming on, the forward was well placed to step inside Santon and shoot beyond Krul after Nikica Jelavic had drifted past Fabricio Coloccini and delivered a low centre in his direction.
Subsequent chances followed at either end but Baines had already done more than enough to ensure it was Everton's night.
These are supposed to be the weeks when Everton are reminded of the hopelessness of their deepest ambitions, when they are weighed down by the reality of a field that sometimes seems so uneven in might be located somewhere deep in the Alps.
It is just as well that David Moyes and his men treat the proposition as someone else's grasp of the art of the possible. Their own understanding is that if you battle hard enough, long enough you might just get somewhere close to the end of the course.
Tonight they were faced with the prospect of a shocking entry into the second half of a campaign which had promised so much. Yet their reaction went to the heart of their meaning.
They simply refused to be deflected from their belief that this indeed might be the season when they exceed the very best of their hopes.
It was more than a victory filled with character and moments of superb professional accomplishment. It was a refusal to buckle under the most dispiriting pressure. But then if January always has an edge of bitterness for Moyes, if for the last decade or so it has almost invariably confirmed his status as the most resilient street urchin in the opulent marketplace of the Premier League, this one could hardly have come in more discouragingly
He had a shopping list that stretched no longer than a couple of possible loan deals as Newcastle's latest passing hero Demba Ba travelled to meet Chelsea and get his hands on something described ludicrously as a loyalty bonus of more than £2m. That was enough to invite the old question about how long the Everton manager is prepared to fight against the financial odds, the instant strike of Papiss Cissé, whose own scoring touch had shrivelled so markedly in the shadow of the departing Ba, must have brought something close to a pang of despair.
The possibility of ambush on Tyneside, even in the middle of a slump, can rarely be said to be remote but this one was horrendously self-induced. Sylvain Distin, of all people, was lured with his central defence partner John Heitinga under the flight path of a huge punt from Tim Krul and when the ball bounced high and loose Cissé was towering above Leighton Baines to nod into the net.
This was the threat of an extremely bad night in the month guaranteed to test so profoundly a crusade which for much of the first half of the season had held the promise of not just notable achievement but something quite remarkable.
But then if Everton's resources are often pinched cruelly at the seams, under Moyes they have always been able to put something impressive on the table. It is the nourishment of the most genuine professional standards and if Newcastle's Alan Pardew was able to talk blithely of a replacement for the defecting Ba, if he could shrug his shoulders and say that something would almost certainly turn up, Moyes was not exactly stripped of options.
He could make the point that has sustained his tenure at Goodison Park for so long and with such enduring prospects for some kind of progress. It was that within his team there is never a shortfall of serious commitment. If he has to scour for talent of the required level, the supply of authentic competitive character appears to be much less elusive.
This was never more apparent than when Everton were required to battle in defence of the lead they fashioned with quite superb commitment after that catastrophic start. After the stupendous free kick of Baines and the goal superbly shaped between Nikica Jelavic and substitute Victor Anichebe, Newcastle inevitably rallied with some emotion before their aroused following. At one point Everton could not have been more physically stretched with both Anichebe and Phil Neville nursing head wounds on the touchline.
It was almost a parable of Moyes' plight. Minus key troops, his team was obliged to fight on against odds that once again were threatening to be insurmountable. But if Everton can do anything, they can face up to such a challenge with exceptional resolve. Indeed, there were times tonight when you were reminded it is rarely less than their default position.
This is one that informs all of Moyes' work and tonight as they fought so hard to regain their place in the chase for a place in the Champions' League there was another reason to acknowledge that beyond the enclaves of vast wealth in the Premier League, there is another story, another set of values.
That they have been so relentlessly pursued by Moyes for so long, and with such little self-indulgent complaint, was once against a wonder of the game.
David Moyes believes Leighton Baines is close to replacing Ashley Cole as England’s best left-back following his man-of-the-match display.
Baines struck a sublime, swerving free-kick just before half-time to cancel out Papiss Demba Cissé’s goal and was a constant threat going forward, as well as immovable in defence.
The defender has spent most of his career in the shadow of Cole – arguably the world’s best in his position – but Moyes feels the gap between them is closing all the time. “I think Ashley Cole is the best left-back in England and always said Leighton Baines is behind him, the gap between them is definitely getting closer,” Moyes said.
“I was frustrated we hadn’t managed to score in the first-half and then he pops up with a worldie just before half-time. He’s disappointed he didn’t score four.
“He feels he should have had a hat-trick with the free-kick the goalkeeper saved and when he got in behind them in the first-half.”
Moyes was delighted with Everton’s performance, particularly as they fell behind so early. “I thought the loss of Demba Ba would galvanise Newcastle and it did. They came out of the blocks strongly and we couldn’t cope with them at first. But we’ve played very well.
What it says is, if you’re going to come to St James’ Park and beat Newcastle you’re going to have to play very well against one of the strongest teams in the league. They are in a false position because they’re missing key players.”
Although the home defeat by Chelsea was a setback, Moyes is hoping that Everton’s unusually strong start to the season has set them up for a top-four finish. He added: “We’ve normally been a very strong second-half of the season team, and if we can do that, hopefully we can compete with the other teams who are going for a top-four finish.”
NEVER mind the Premier League – Victor Anichebe believes Everton FC's Leighton Baines is currently the best left-back in the world.
The pair scored the goals that gave Everton a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United at St James Park last night, and Anichebe was awestruck by his team-mate’s 35-yard free-kick which got Everton back on level terms just before half time.
Anichebe, 24, added the winner shortly after his introduction on 58 minutes, and the Nigerian international said he has tried to follow Baines’ hard-working example as he also continues to impress this season.
He said: “Bainesy is probably the best left-back in the world at the moment and that’s no exaggeration. I couldn’t believe his goal.
"I was thinking ‘he’s not going to shoot here surely,’ then he ran up to the ball and I was in disbelief. That just shows you how good he is.
“Sometimes I’m watching him from the side and he’s just unbelievable. The way he’s progressed is fantastic. When he first came here he wasn’t really playing but he didn’t complain. He was always in the gym working and trying to improve himself.
“Same with Sylvain Distin. It shows through their displays how professional they are, and I’m looking at that and seeing how it can help me. I’ve tried to follow their example and do as much as I can and I think it’s started to show.”
Anichebe’s strike was his fifth in just 12 appearances so far this season, and came at a ground which has previously prompted difficult memories of rupturing his knee ligaments in February 2009.
But the forward – who scored but also had a legitimate goal against the Magpies disallowed at Goodison earlier this season – says that is behind him now.
“Every time I come here I look back to when I got that injury but I always feel like against Newcastle I get chances or something happens,” he said.
“I don’t know what it is. Hopefully now I don’t need to look back at the past any more and I can just concentrate on the future. When we played against West Ham earlier this season me and Kevin Nolan made up. I want to keep progressing myself now, that’s all behind me.
“People tell me about my goals ratio per minutes played but I don’t really think about these things. To be honest I don’t care. I just want to play and not be injured. It’s something I’m getting better with. Even when I had my hamstring injury I knew I’d come back.”