Everton’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end at the hands of an imperious Manchester City side last Sunday. Second half goals from Kolarov and Nasri were enough to succumb us to our first defeat of the season.
The Blues lined up exactly the same as they did last Saturday against Southampton in a 4-2-3-1 formation:
Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Galloway, Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley, Barkley, Kone, Lukaku
However it was Manchester City that began the brighter of the two sides, with Sergio Aguero forcing two early saves from Tim Howard. At the other end Ross Barkley had our only real effort with a driven shot from the edge of the box, which was comfortably saved by Joe Hart.
Our only real chance in open play fell to Lukaku, who ran through to a deflected Barkley pass before rounding Hart and finishing, to only find his goal had been ruled out for offside. The decision was extremely tight but to be fair to linesman it was a correct decision.
City continued to be the more penetrative side though and should’ve taken the lead when a Yaya Toure pulled a cross across the box, but thankfully ex Kopite Raheem Sterling couldn’t connect and the ball ran out of play for a goal-kick.
Galloway playing at left, was having a torrid time against Navas, Sagna and Silva. The away side were constantly causing problems for him but rest bite was soon to appear in the form of an injury. The youngster was replaced just before half time by Tyias Browning who would wish he’d stayed on the bench.
The half ended on a high for the Blues with Lukaku clipping the Park End crossbar from a free kick with Joe Hart going the wrong way. It was all square at the break but with City looking the stronger side.
Half Time Everton 0-0 Manchester City
City continued their superiority second half by pinning the Blues back in their own half. Their territory dominance soon paid off when good play between Sterling and Koralov led to the Serbian firing a low shot past Tim Howard at his near post. The American loves getting beaten at his near post doesn’t he?! Any keeper worth their salt would be very disappointed to have conceded that goal. It was such a frustrating way to go behind.
Everton tried to force the would-be Champions back and nearly found themselves level. A Gareth Barry header nearly dropped in at the near post, but Kompany got back to clear.
However, for Everton that was as good as it got. City sealed the points two minutes from time. Nasri anticipating a Toure pass when the Everton defenders were flat-footed and slow to react. He lifted the ball over an onrushing Tim Howard and the game was well and truly over. Once again the American didn’t cover himself in much glory. Having said that neither did the other Everton defenders.
Full Tim Everton 0-2 Manchester City
After the game finished, there was a clear feeling of frustration. Frustration that we never really ‘landed a glove’ on City. We never really asserted any prolonged pressure on them and highlighted any weaknesses within their team. For me Martinez did himself no favours with his team selection or tactics. Poor old Brendan Galloway who was playing in only his 5th Premier League game was frighteningly isolated all first half with five clear chances being created. He wasn’t given any real protection from Kone. I don’t blame the Ivorian, he’s a centre forward not a left winger. It was reminiscent of Samuel Eto’o playing there against Newcastle last December.
Apart from Seamus Coleman we offered no width whatsoever. Whenever we did look to break we had no option out wide, which forced us to come inside where we would run into traffic and lose possession.
Take nothing away from the visitors. There wont be many teams we play this year that will be better than City. Silva was on a different planet compared to anything on our side. He really is a magician.
Having said that, when we did have the ball we were so wasteful with possession. so many sloppy passes going astray. Our attacking play was so disjointed, owing partly to team being so unbalanced. It took me back to last season. Too many square pegs in round holes. If we want to persist with playing four central midfielders and no natural wingers we need both full backs to ‘bomb on’ to give us our width. Unfortunately Seamus was the only one doing this. We have a clear issue at left back and it is one that needs addressing. Where was Bryan Oviedo, not even on the bench again? Why is a youth centre back in the making favoured ahead of Oviedo Baby? I hope it’s because he’s not match sharp yet. Lets hope he rectified that with 90 minutes at Barnsley on Wednesday evening.
Martinez just wasn’t proactive enough in his approach. His substitutions if you call them that were so Moyes-esk! He should’ve changed things before the hour mark when city were dominating. It was just a matter of time before they scored, and they did! The fact he brought on Naismith when it was crying out for pace and width in Mirallas. However when he does put a winger on its 5 minutes before the end and he brings on Deulofeu who is clearly not fit. It was so infuriating.
It was so hard to pinpoint a Man of The Match yesterday as there were so many six out of tens! Seamus ran his socks off and got forward at every opportunity. He had his work cut out having to deal with Sterling running at him at every opportunity too. However he stuck to his task, so I’m going to give it to him. A special mention must also go to Tom Cleverley. He works so hard for the team and his contribution is one that needs highlighting. Lets hope it continues.
Attention now turns to the League Cup at Barnsley on Wednesday. Lets hope we can return to winning ways.
Come on you Blues!