Toffees and Magpies look forward

  • By: Nick Hext
  • Last Updated: September 26 2012, 1:23 BST

Our Nick Hext looks at where Everton and Newcastle stand after Monday night's 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.

  • Kevin Mirallas: Strong signing for Everton
  • Demba Ba: Must start for Newcastle 

I think you'll agree that wasn't a bad game?

Everton will be disappointed they couldn't hold on for victory after moving 2-1 up very late in the piece but Newcastle always threatened after Demba Ba's half-time introduction so it wasn't entirely shocking that he popped up with an equaliser.

It really was a match for the neutral to enjoy and there are plenty of positive signs for fans of both clubs - providing expectations are realistic - to take note of once they manage to compose themselves after such an action-packed contest.

We could also discuss the seemingly never-ending goalline technology debate but everybody knows it's needed and everybody knows it will arrive at some point in the relatively close future.

Not that Everton can find much solace in that after Victor Anichebe's header wasn't adjudged to have gone in by the linesman.

What Toffees supporters can smile about is the threat offered by new signing Kevin Mirallas from wide areas in a very attacking approach.

The Belgian has started off in superb fashion at Goodison with two goals in the 5-0 League Cup win over Leyton Orient on his debut and a very encouraging outing against Newcastle.

Teams will take a while to get to grips with him so the former Olympiacos man is definitely a man to have on your side in bets, fantasy football or whatever else takes your fancy over the next weeks.

Team Versus Team
Swansea v Everton
Leeds v Everton
Everton v Southamptn
Wigan v Everton
QPR v Everton
Everton v Liverpool

We already know a bit more about the other Belgian in blue on Merseyside.

Marouane Fellaini attracted all the headlines after his winner against Manchester United on the opening weekend of the season and he is certainly the man Everton's best play is coming through.

Teams have always struggled to deal with the physical threat he provides - also something that referees are quick to spot with the midfielder producing the most Premier League fouls so far this term - but there is more to like about his game.

He is the driving force behind the Toffees and has much more subtlety to his game than he is given credit for with plenty of silky footwork shown against the Magpies.

"The talk during international week of potential unrest will have slightly concerned David Moyes but after Fellaini cost Everton an initial £15million to buy from Standard Liege in 2008 you can be sure that a much bigger asking price is now on his head."

That will put plenty of teams off and the Belgium international should also be reminded that not every other side will allow him to be the clear focal point of their play.

The main worry for the Toffees this season was clearly shown when Nikica Jelavic departed with a knee injury at the end of the first half.

The Croatian was replaced by Victor Anichebe and, although the sub scored one and should have seen his header given the thumbs up from the linesman, it was quite clear Everton's attacking play wasn't as sparky after the break.

Anichebe can be relied on to do a job but he doesn't offer the pure class that Jelavic does with the Toffees' squad just not strong enough to cope with injuries to key players.

The loss of Darron Gibson for four to five weeks will be felt and there were plenty of times in the second half on Monday night when his powerful efforts from long-range were badly missed.

The names in reserve for the Toffees just aren't strong enough to cover for the star players and that should concern fans if the time comes that an injury crisis again takes hold.

It's fair to see that is true of any team but - even with plenty of strong additions to his squad over the transfer window - Moyes really does need to keep his fingers crossed that the treatment room stays relatively quiet.

Newcastle have an obvious reason to be worried about the depth of their squad.

The Europa League will place a different challenge in the hands of Alan Pardew and his men better get used to playing on Sundays with Thursday night European games becoming the norm.

Team Versus Team
Maritimo v Newcastle
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Newcastle v Man Utd

That means all of Pardew's squad will be utilised in the next few months but it's still the Premier League where the Magpies will be judged - although a European run really would be something for the St James' Park faithful to enjoy.

The main lesson from Monday night is that Ba and Papiss Cisse should be paired together at all times in the league.

The duo have already proved they have more than enough talent to worry any side and there isn't any reason for Pardew to play negative and ignore the quality of strikers at his disposal.

Newcastle's best players are in attack and midfield so use them and choose hope over fear by always - in the league - using Hatem Ben Arfa as the playmaker and Ba and Cisse as the dynamic duo to frighten any defence.

Yohan Cabaye was fairly quiet at Goodison but has already proved that he is up there with the very best midfielders in the Premier League.

He will definitely be one to watch as he hits his straps after a shorter than usual break following his first experience of senior international tournament football with France at Euro 2012.

Don't be surprised as well if the talk about his future builds up again after a few whispers of interest from Arsenal at the end of the summer transfer window.

It would be surprising if the Magpies can take the challenge for Champions League football right to the wire again but they can give it a real go by playing to their attacking strengths and make sure the key men are firing for Premier League action.

Everton have what can fairly be called outside dreams of top-four finish but they have started this season in better fashion than the traditional sleepy beginning that normally occurs at Goodison in the opening weeks.

Those dreams will remain just that but Moyes' men are again set up to test any side and don't be surprised to see his Belgian duo help the Toffees close the gap a little on the top-flight's elite over the campaign.