Big Sam Has Done What He Was Brought In To Do

Everton manager Sam Allardyce defended his side's style of football as they laboured to a 1-0 win over Newcastle.

Image result for Everton 1 Newcastle 0But, he is right in saying he has achieved what he set out to achieve.

Theo Walcott scored his first goal since January to lift the hosts up to eighth in the Premier League.

Some fans have criticised the Toffees' displays under Allardyce, but the former Newcastle boss felt his side played well on Monday.

"What was wrong with our style? You can't knock our football," he said to Sky Sports after the match.

"You can knock some of our passing that went astray, but you can't knock me for that. I don't pass the ball.

"Apart from the last 10 minutes we dominated the game and there was only going to be one winner."

A dull first half bore all the hallmarks of an end-of-season, mid-table encounter with goalscoring opportunities at a premium.

However, the deadlock was broken soon after the break when Yannick Bolasie's cross deflected off DeAndre Yedlin to Walcott, who took a touch before driving the ball into the roof of the net.

The game briefly opened up after that and Newcastle substitute Dwight Gayle should have done better when he hooked a shot over from close range, before Seamus Coleman made an important headed clearance in stoppage time.

Ultimately, a lack of quality in the final third proved Newcastle's undoing as they spurned several other opportunities to create something and Everton recorded a first win in four games to move onto 45 points.

Newcastle remain in 10th place on 41 points and need just one more point to be mathematically safe from relegation.

A win, but is it enough for Everton fans?

Allardyce has taken Everton to mid-table safety from just above the relegation zone, but there has been growing discontent among some supporters at what they perceive to be a negative playing style.

There were calls for Allardyce to be sacked during the 1-1 draw at Swansea earlier this month, with some fans unhappy with their side's display - and his critics were unlikely to be appeased by this performance.

Everton seemed uncertain how to break down a disciplined Newcastle side, while Cenk Tosun found himself far too isolated from his team-mates in attack.

The hosts failed to manage a shot on target in a drab first half and it was one moment of quality from Walcott that proved decisive in a game both sets of fans will be keen to forget.

Everton are now on course for a top-eight finish and Allardyce, who succeeded the sacked Ronald Koeman in November, added: "I think eighth in the league compared to fifth from bottom tells you we're getting the players better.

"We've moved up the league one place again, so we're on the right track and moving in the right direction."

But former Toffees midfielder Leon Osman, commentating on the game for BBC Radio 5 live, said: "This may be a victory but it is hardly an exciting one.

"Sam Allardyce sends his teams out to win, he is not always fussed about performances. He will be delighted with a win and a clean sheet.

"People expect a standard of performance. The three points will be important but the crowd come to be excited. There was hardly a chance in this game and not enough excitement. That is the story of the season for Everton."

The stats:

◾Everton have won five consecutive top-flight games against Newcastle for the first time since January 1920.
◾Everton kept five consecutive clean sheets against a single opponent in the Premier League for the first time.
◾The Toffees scored with their only shot on target of the match against Newcastle.
◾Newcastle have now lost 10 of their past 14 Premier League trips to Goodison Park, winning three (D3 L10).
◾Walcott has been directly involved in 10 goals in his past nine league games against the Magpies (five goals, five assists).
◾This was Benitez's 100th game as Newcastle manager (W48 D21 L31).