Everton vs Manchester City: Match Report

Everton were comfortably swept aside by champions elect Manchester City at Goodison Park.

After a desperately disappointing defeat to Fulham on Sunday evening, Carlo Ancelotti adopted a more defensive approach for the match, with Mason Holgate, Yerry Mina, Michael Keane, Ben Godfrey and Lucas Digne all handed starts. Without Dominic Calvert-Lewin once again, the Italian persisted with Richarlison as his lone central striker.

Within minutes, the way in which the game was to unfold was made clear. City were relentless, both in possession and in their press, and spent much of the first half deep in Everton territory and a decision away from unlocking The Toffees’ backline. Conversely, the hosts were happy to sit deep and wait their turn, with a glorious opening for Abdoulaye Doucouré, which saw the Frenchman elect to pass rather than shoot, an illustration that good things could come to The Blues if they were prepared to wait.

After thirty two minutes of much huff and puff from the visitors, they finally made the breakthrough courtesy of Phil Foden. There was nothing much Everton could have done to prevent the strike, nor its deflection off  substitute Seamus Coleman, a notion that highlights just how formidable a beast Pep Guardiola’s side are at this moment in time.

The important thing for Everton was how they responded to this setback and to their credit, they replied outstandingly well. Following a good break involving the likes of Alex Iwobi and Coleman, the ball found its way to Lucas Digne, whose shot smacked against the post and off Richarlison before bundling in. It was a well-worked goal and a reward for Everton’s great defensive efforts.

With the scores level and Everton with something of a foothold in the match, there was a sense that the visitors’ superb start to the the new year could be under threat.

Half Time: Everton 1-1 Manchester City

Sadly though, Everton’s willingness to stick to their shape faded just after the hour mark. After a lovely, mazy dart from Bernardo Silva, the ball found its way back to Riyad Mahrez, whose arched, audacious effort spun away from the reaches of Pickford to regain The Citizens’ lead. It was a trademark Mahrez strike and an example of how when matches are tight, City have the quality and composure needed to carve through.

This, in addition to the decision to take Tom Davies off, broke Everton and saw the match effectively turn into a training session, in which those who had been booked in blue tread a careful line and City move the ball about with an unwavering assurance. One couldn’t help but think the presence of Allan, a man who has been sorely missed in recent weeks, would have really helped Everton’s cause tonight, as for much of the game their midfield were chasing shadows and unable to cope with City’s movements.

The third goal was a prime example of such. Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has performed poorly in Everton’s last two matches, lost the run of Silva far too easily and did very little to stop the Portuguese international from firing at Pickford, who despite getting a firm hand to the ball could not prevent it from nestling in the net.

This moment in the match highlights two major areas Everton need to improve and invest in. Firstly, they must find someone who, like all of City’s midfield, can graft and work just as much as they can create. At this present moment, Everton cannot afford luxury players and require maximum graft from everyone on the field to have any chance of securing a result. Lazy, leggy displays from the likes of Sigurdsson cannot be tolerated if The Toffees are to compete and enjoy further progress.

And secondly, they must, as a priority, look to invest in a new goalkeeper. Whilst there are occasional glimpses of class from both Pickford and Olsen when given the number one jersey, neither can be depended upon as the last line of Everton’s defence and must be replaced if The Blues are to bridge the gap with The Premier League’s elite and stop goals like City’s third bundling in on the regular.

As Andre Marriner blew the final whistle, one couldn’t help but feel an overriding sense of frustration. Not about this fixture but about the defeat to Fulham. The two losses against Newcastle. Getting beaten by Leeds United, West Ham United and Southampton. By picking up points in these matches, Everton would have been able to approach this fixture and what is to come on Saturday with real freedom. Instead, this three day period has become extremely important and could (and most likely will) alter the course of their campaign. For Everton to ensure that early season optimism does not fizzle into mid-table mediocrity, they have to stop games like tonight carrying such weight and show ruthlessness against those they should beat, a quality that both of this week’s opponents are defined by.

All roads lead to Anfield on Saturday night.

Full Time: Everton 1-3 Manchester City

James’ Everton Man of the Match: Abdoulaye Doucouré 

 

 

Published by JamesAldred99

A 'cautiously' optimistic Evertonian, excited by Carlo Ancelotti's side start to the season and the way in which the wider Premier League campaign has begun.

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