Newcastle's Shoddy DisciplineIn total, Newcastle conceded 21 fouls, over twice that of Everton. Contributing to this total were three players with foul totals over 5. This also included three yellow cards given out to Williamson, Tiote, and Cisse. A side thinned by injuries, Newcastle should be looking to decrease the possibility of any of their players being suspended, but this was not reflected in their play. Tiote, one of Newcastle's most celebrated players of last season, was especially rash with his challenges. Tiote committed a total of 5 fouls, all of which were in Newcastle's own half. The only player with more was Shola Ameobi, but while his 7 fouls is cause for alarm, none of them were as dangerous as those conceded by Tiote. Tiote's fouls were all located in areas where Everton could either play a dangerous ball into the box or take a shot on goal. This inevitably caught up with the Magpies when Baines scored from a distance of 35 yards after one of Tiote's fouls. The strike was irrefutably magnificent, but it was still a free opportunity offered up by Newcastle. Fouling aside, this was a poor match for Tiote. He made on solitary tackle during the whole match, and failed to win all but 2 of his 10 ground duels. And, as if this were not already enough to cast doubt on the Ivorian's performance, he lost possession 18 times, tied with Shola Ameobi for the most losses for Newcastle.
Gael Bigirimana Impresses in a Short Span of TimeStarkly contrasting to Tiote, Gael Bigirimana was phenomenal in his brief 25 minute appearance as a substitute. Bigirimana successfully tackled 4 times compared to the 1 of Tiote, and did not concede a single freekick. On top of this already impressive stat, the Burundian won 5 of his 6 ground duels. And if his defensive game is not enough to impress, he completed 93% of his attempted passes. If Tiote was passing at this rate, he would have had a total of 115 completed passes as opposed to his 36. In short, Gael Bigirimana outplayed Tiote in every metric while playing roughly a third of time allowed to his teammate. Obviously, Bigirimana was afforded the advantage of playing on fresh legs in a high tempo game, but there is nonetheless a vast difference in the statistics provided by these two players. Pardew should take notice of this gulf in performance and take advantage of a youngster who is clearly intent on proving his right to a regular first team spot.
Fellaini's Attacking RoleThe line between midfielder and attacking target man continues to blur in the case of Marouane Fellaini. The big Belgian may only have had one stray shot over the course of the match, but his frequent presence in the box was a nuisance to Newcastle's defense. Fellaini completed and attempted the most passes for Everton. 82% of these passes were in Everton's attacking half, illustrating the advanced role that Fellaini is now being utilized in. Once you factor in that 32%, the majority, of his total passes were forward, the statistics begin to tell just how advanced and attacking this role is becoming. But the importance of Fellaini is more than that of an attacking passer. He is also a crucial pressure valve for Everton when they are under pressure or wish to apply quick pressure to Newcastle's back line. Fellaini is seldom receiving short passes from his teammates. Rather, more long balls are being served up to take advantage of his height and zip the ball into more attacking, less dangerous zones. Fellaini allows an opportunity for Everton to quickly skip through the key transition phase between