VIEW FROM THE BLUE
Everton 1 - 0 Manchester City
Without a Premier League win on home turf for six weeks, Everton produced a superb defensive performance that shut down title-chasing Manchester City's prolific goalscoring machine and enabled Darron Gibson's second-half goal to deservedly earn the spoils on a frigid night on Merseyside.
Against the backdrop of frenetic transfer deadline day activity that ultimately saw Nikica Jelavic and Steven Pienaar arrive and Louis Saha make a surprise move to Tottenham, the Blues' harried, pressured and frustrated a City side who had strolled to victory in the reverse fixture back in September. This was an entirely different display by David Moyes's side; where they had been timid and ultra-defensive at the Etihad Stadium, tonight, with a raucous Goodison crowd behind them, Everton tried to take the game to their opponents and were formidable at the back.
Indeed, though City teased and probed and Everton struggled for long periods to keep the ball, Tim Howard was forced to make just one save of note in 90 minutes, that a save with his feet to block Micah Richards' shot from the angle after six minutes.
Moyes had taken the somewhat controversial decision to replace Shane Duffy with Tony Hibbert in central defence but a determined shift by the right back alongside an immense performance by John Heitinga was at the core of the stubborn rearguard action that underpinned this magnificent result.
Starting in typical fashion on the front foot, the Blues looked to have taken the lead as early as the fifth minute when Denis Stracqualursi, starting his second consecutive game, headed a corner back across Joe Hart but Joleon Lescott headed the ball off the goalline to deny the big Argentine.
But City quickly settled and began dictating the pattern of the game as, to a man, the Everton midfield routinely gave the ball away with poor passing or by taking too long to pick a pass. A case in point was Royston Drenthe's awful quick free kick that he gave straight to Lescott who launched a ball forward to Sergio Aguero. The Argentine forward controlled the pass superbly but was quickly closed down by three blue shirts and he eventually screwed a shot wide.
The Blues struggled on the whole to find any consistent forward momentum in the first half. All too often they relied on the long ball from the back or the ball would end up with Phil Neville to chip aimlessly down the right touchline where Landon Donovan was owned in the air by his marker. And when they did try to match City's patient build-up play with some measured passing, they were harried into mistakes by the impatience of the Goodison crowd.
Nevertheless, they remained a threat from set-pieces and Marouane Fellaini came agonisingly close when a corner came back out to Donovan and when he laid it back to Leighton Baines, Fellaini snatched at the resulting cross and belted it the wrong side of the upright.
A minute later, Roberto Mancini's side came as close to scoring as they would all evening when Samir Nasri unloaded from 30 yards and his shot crashed off the underside of the crossbar. Howard saved superbly from Aguero on the rebound but the striker was flagged offside anyway.
A first half that was interrupted for four minutes when a fan staged a bizarre protest at RyanAir by handcuffing himself to the post next to Joe Hart, eventually came to a goalless conclusion with Moyes no doubt content at his team's dogged defensive work in the first 45 minutes.
The visitors started the second half the more likely side to score, with Aguero all too easily shrugging off the attentions of Hibbert near the halfway line and eventually surging forward to cut the ball back to Nasri. Thankfully, the French midfielder's drive deflected off Heitinga and behind for a corner.
Then, with the lively Aguero again causing problems in the Blues' defence, Fellaini, whose determined midfeld work had him straddling the line between legal and illegal all evening, had Evertonian hearts in their mouths when he slid in on the Argentine in the area but he executed his tackle superbly to win the ball.
And it was the Belgian's physical presence that set up the attack that led to the Everton goal, one where everything clicked for two players who could hardly do anything right with the ball up to that point. Drenthe collected itl off Fellaini in the centre circle and, with one masterful feint, left Gareth Barry for dead, surged forward before laying it off to Baines wide on the left.
Barry got a head to the defender's cross but it dropped to Donovan who controlled the bounce, laid it back to Gibson and he hammered the ball home via a slight deflection off Barry's leg. Cue a pile of celebrating bodies in front of an electrified Gwladys Street end.
Everton had the bit between their teeth now and after Nasri bobbled the ball into the roof of the net from byline, terrific work by the ever-industrious Stracqualursi saw him deliver a cross from the left from which Gibson bounced a left-footed volley just wide.
Given the stakes for Mancini's men and their attacking talent, it was no surprise that the last quarter of an hour was all about Everton defending deep and keeping things tight while City tried to find a way through the wall of blue shirts. The sizeable away contingent bayed as one for a penalty in the 76th minute when Kolarov's cross from the left was stopped by the unwitting Neville's arm while Drenthe was booked for leaving a high foot in on Richards, which was Moyes's cue to replace him with Jose Baxter.
The Blues held firm though under the visitiors' pressure and apart from a goalmouth panic in the final minute that was alleviated by substitute Apostolos Vellios hacking the ball clear to safety, the makeshift defence never really looked in danger of giving up the precious points. The final whistle was greeted as expected with a huge roar of relief and delight from a Goodison crowd that has had precious little to celebrate this season.
Using the platform provided by the FA Cup win over Fulham last Friday and the display that underpinned it, Everton recaptured some of the fighting spirit that has been a hallmark of Moyes's tenure but which has been lacking for so much the campaign. Granted, from an attacking point of view, the Blues were again disappointing overall; too many players gave the ball away with sloppy passes and they didn't create enough chances, but that was to be expected given their form over recent weeks and the calibre of the opposition.
What was important, in the context of the new signings and growing confidence, was that they shut out a free-scoring team and gave themselves a massive lift by securing victory over the Premier League leaders. With Pienaar returning, a player who can hold into the ball and bring other players into the game, Everton will be better equipped to play more enterprising football and provide the service from which Jelavic can prove he can cut it in the world's toughest league.
Player Ratings: Howard 6, Neville 6, Hibbert 7, Heitinga 8*, Baines 6, Gibson 6, Fellaini 8, Donovan 7, Drenthe 5 (Baxter 5), Cahill 7, Stracqualursi 8 (Vellios -)
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467 Posted 01/02/2012 at 07:17:15
477 Posted 01/02/2012 at 08:08:34
However, as always with Everton, they pulled out the performance of the season when you least expect it. This was more like the real Everton under Moyes, team, team, team and plenty of fight. Some of the football was good too and if I had one wish it would be that we could keep Donovan.
Mancini's admission that he thought it would have been an easier game than it was should embarass Moyes and make sure he and his team raise their game for the rest of the season.
Separately I was chuffed to see Saha leaving, (some great but increasingly distant memories) and Pienaar returning. Hopefully the adage "never go back" won't be true in his case.
486 Posted 01/02/2012 at 08:21:00
It will be interesting to see how Davy accommodates Jelavic, Pienaar, Velios, Distin, Jags plus Barclay and Jack.
Suddenly things are looking bright.
491 Posted 01/02/2012 at 08:52:19
Straq ? I can see this guy becoming a local legend if he keeps turning in performances like that.
Well done lads and credit where it's due to Moyes, he got the tactics spot on.
PS. Round is still a useless twat though.
493 Posted 01/02/2012 at 09:02:50
Great night to be an Evertonian.
494 Posted 01/02/2012 at 09:00:50
495 Posted 01/02/2012 at 09:06:21
Still...not complaining to have two decent strikers vying for a place rather than zero
498 Posted 01/02/2012 at 09:12:57
Not a bad night really , honestly expected nothing in the way of transfers or result but great result and maybe just maybe Pienaar on the left with Baines Landon on the right and a goal scorer in the middle [Jelly ] we might have something. Maybe even shock horror Jelly & Dennis up front together.
501 Posted 01/02/2012 at 09:19:18
Can't see Straq being offered a contract, I would have signed him simply for trying to header a ball on the floor.
502 Posted 01/02/2012 at 09:20:21
The annoying thing again though, is that it takes a big volatile crowd against a big team to get a response, but I suppose most teams are like that, none more so than the shite across the park, there was a period in the game when Strac and a few others started getting stuck into them and this got the crowd going, why can they not show this type of attitude more often? as you would find Goodison would not be the morgue it has turned into this season.
515 Posted 01/02/2012 at 09:46:25
Anybody else growing really fond of the big Argentine?
525 Posted 01/02/2012 at 10:09:13
My ratings from last night;- Hibbo 8, Fellani 8; Johnny Heitinga 8; Stracqulursi 9 !!!!
526 Posted 01/02/2012 at 10:32:12
If he can put in a shift like that when required then he has got a bright future in Blue
527 Posted 01/02/2012 at 10:31:59
7, Protestor marched off
6, Jelly at half time
5, Final whistle
4, Strac powering through block tackles
3, Lescott being subbed
1, Strac ovation when subbed
Crazy game. Crazy transfer deadline. Crazy feeling of positivity.
533 Posted 01/02/2012 at 10:45:24
536 Posted 01/02/2012 at 10:54:04
Whats his name ? Hans Cuft. (i'll get me coat)
546 Posted 01/02/2012 at 10:51:14
The Stracq needs to be given a contract, as he inspires the Goodison roar, and is a good indication of how the team is travelling. I think Jelavic will start on the weekend, because Stracq won't be able to move, so much running he has done in the last two games.
I also hope that Moyes keeps Drenthe in the starting side; although he is prone to a few brain fades, he has the ability to provide a magic moment. For all of his mazy runs with no result, it was his feint, change of direction and then run which led to the goal.
A great 24 hours to be a blue, COYB!!! 3 points against Wigan, with Jelavic, Stracq and Cahill to score in a comfy win.
552 Posted 01/02/2012 at 11:32:44
To see Denis go back to Argie next season will be a disaster.
Ok, we will have Jelly but we need at least two decent strikers, possibly playing together with Cahill on the bench.
558 Posted 01/02/2012 at 11:29:50
Moyes' decision to play Hibbo got the tactics right for once. We'll never know if Duffy would have coped with their ground play, but height at the back was hardly needed all night. Against other teams this will not be the case.
Then there was Count Stracula. Fabulous attitude, commitment and some very good touches too. A crowd favourite in the making - Moyes please note.
And all on the day we welcome a new striker and not so new proven midfielder, and we swap Saha for a stuffed brown envelope at a motorway services. Heady stuff!
562 Posted 01/02/2012 at 12:12:26
563 Posted 01/02/2012 at 12:15:52
A Duncan ferguson in the making.
He battered lescott and richards all night his effort and determination was immense, he led by example.
By all accounts he's a top bloke too, hard working and respectful and no big time Charlie.
Hopefully he will continue to improve and impress as we need a big target man to hold the ball up. He could yet turn out to be a real find.
567 Posted 01/02/2012 at 12:30:47
Fantastic result and performance (especially 2nd half). Credit where it is due also - Moyes got his selection spot on. More of the same please.
Oh, and as for Strac - Moyesie, sign him up! What a performance.
570 Posted 01/02/2012 at 12:34:51
The 'what happens when Jags is fit?' question is one I hope Moyes gets right. Hopefully the arrival of Gibson and Pienaar will mean that Heitinga isn't moved up into midfield. Jags neither, and especially Neville.
571 Posted 01/02/2012 at 12:41:16
574 Posted 01/02/2012 at 12:38:38
I would like to mention a guy called David Shaw, he posted before the Fulham game saying he wanted to kick start a singing section in Glwadys Street.
That improved atmosphere which started at the Fulham game, carried on last night. The atmosphere in our last 2 matches has been massively improved, and I think David Shaw needs a pat on the back for his efforts.
When our fans are in the mood as they have been for the last 2 games they are worth at least a goal start. I hope for the remainder of the home games irrespective who we are playing our fans give the team that backing in all the games.
575 Posted 01/02/2012 at 12:42:59
First half Cahill was our best player and overall Heitinga.
Drenthe was over elaborate which usually led to us losing the ball and Neville was appalling as usual.It was a very even game. City looked like they could open us up anytime but due to Hibbert and Heitinga they never did.
Sheer application and effort won the day and I will never complain when they try like that.
576 Posted 01/02/2012 at 12:51:04
To have a selection problem for the next game will be nice...it will be a very tough match, but we are in with a shout. Also great to see we actually spent some money, contrary to the confident statements of some on here, that Jelavic was just a 'fake' offer.
My day yesterday.
- Phone call from friend telling me about Saha and the Pienaar rumour (I had work in the morning, without internet)
-Spent next few hours hoping and fearing.
-Hibbert instead of Duffy..still no Jelavic..lots of criticism on toffeeweb for Moyes (I am one of his supporters, but feared the abuse he would receive if Hibbert and we, were poor).
-Guy cuffs himself to a post and Jelavic is confirmed. Still 0-0...the possibility of a draw? I am happy.
-Gibson scores...I went a bit mental and scared my girlfriend. (She rarely sees the football joy related madness, given the passage of our season).
-I fall in love with Denis.
-Mancini brings on De Jong whilst trying to win the game...Makes me laugh alot.
-We win and I go mental again.
-Saha confirmed (wooooo) but Harry says Pienarr is not arriving. I feel sad...With retrospect, I was being a bit greedy.
-11.45 - Peanuts is coming back.
Fucking amazing day.
We don't have the team to challenge for the top honours anymore. But the possibility of buying players, being excited over new arrivals and the hope at least of progress, should not be denied to us. And a cup run (fingers cross) are necessary occasional pleasures.
Moyes in, Kenwright out.
578 Posted 01/02/2012 at 13:15:40
Great Performance from most of the lads.
Cahill was good, as was Fellaini. But for me, Hibbert was better than Heitinga.
Though Drenthe was our most dangerous player - although I can understand taking him off ? before he got sent off.
Compare that with how we approached the last Man City game. Chalk and Cheese.
579 Posted 01/02/2012 at 13:11:46
Moyes seems to have been stung by recent criticism and has his fighting spirit back which is reflected in the performance of the team.
Secondly I feel Fellaini has been magnificent in the last 2 games constantly looking for the ball at the back and then linking up in the opponents penalty box.
For such a big man his control and ditribution of the ball is fantastic.
580 Posted 01/02/2012 at 13:19:18
Drenthe may have lost possession a few times and he is always a yellow card in waiting every game BUT we wouldn't have won this game without him, and in all truth Man City would have had a lot less to worry about had he been missing. He runs AT defenders- he has pace. For God's sake he's exciting and a potential threat every time he touches the ball, and I do emphasise 'potential'. 5 out of 10? sorry you don't know football.
582 Posted 01/02/2012 at 13:19:22
The gibson signing has already paid dividends.
Signing rangers/croatia main striker
Playing hibbert in central defence
'Swapping' saha for pienaar.
The real moyes just stood up.
Now, lets see about Donovan.......
589 Posted 01/02/2012 at 13:45:45
Moyes must really despise City, his face for the whole match was one of determination to win, hatred for the opposition and pure passion, the David Moyes i've been wanting to see back on the sidelines again. The eyes burning with rage and pure determination to win which obviously got through to all of his players.
Denis the Menace was superb last night, as was Hibbo and Jonny. All of the lads stood up to be counted last night so well done to all concerned.
I'd be delighted if Moyes bottled that determination last night and fired the players up like that for Utd, City, Chelsea, Arsenal and the Shite everytime we played them.
More of the same please Davey, whatever you did obviously worked!!! What you lack in quality you try to level up with effort and hard work. A well deserved win bonus for all.
597 Posted 01/02/2012 at 14:11:31
A fantastic performance from all but Stracqualursi was outstanding... he looked like he had run himself to a standstill. His attitude must inspire the rest of the team?
Drenthe was getting stuck in and Hibbo was brilliant keeping Dzeko quiet... 5ft-9in against 6ft-4in. He deserved all the praise heaped on him by the TV and radio pundits.
Well done to Everton for grabbing the Gers forward. I have watched him play on numerous occasions and he looks a useful striker and I know the Gers fans are sorry to lose him.
Pienaar back??...well we all didn't want him to go so I guess that's another good piece of business.
Can't believe it...all sounds positive for a change... So happy... well done Blues! :)
612 Posted 01/02/2012 at 14:22:32
Stracq was immense last night and should be signed permanently, people seem to love his heart, effort and commitment but state him as being a crap footballer. I actually think he's shown more quality than the supposedly mercurial Saha this season, decent first touch, holds up ball brings people into play, exceptional dribbling/bulldozing skills and overall menace with a goalscoring threat
629 Posted 01/02/2012 at 14:57:07
Well he's arrived in the shape of big Denis.We just need to give him a contract and he will be a legend.
690 Posted 01/02/2012 at 17:18:33
Must say I didn't agree with Davie Proven's choice for MOM tho'...I thought it was Denis by a country mile. Straq ran & chased after everything and covered more ground in one game than that lazy waster Saha has in 2 seasons ....absolutely made up that conman has gone to Spurs to be a burden on their wage bill instead of ours.
Just hope this is the first of many similar performances by both Straq and the team in general. He is by no means the finished article but his raw energy and commitment was a joy to see and the absolute minimum that should be given by EVERY player in EVERY game. I certainly hope Anichebe took note of Denis's work rate and willingness to put opposing defenders under pressure.
I have been very critical of our style of play this season but if we can produce performances like last night on a regular basis then all may not be lost after all...just hope the manager continues in the same vein at the weekend and does not revert to type on Saturday.
695 Posted 01/02/2012 at 17:22:36
720 Posted 01/02/2012 at 18:18:31
Potential doesn't win you points, Nick. The fact is that more often than not, Drenthe lost the ball. His body feint that helped create the goal was notable because most times before that he'd been dispossessed as he'd held onto it too long or wasn't able to beat his man.
Defensively you couldn't fault him for effort but he was a bit of a loose cannon, lucky not to already be on a yellow by the time he stuck his boot into Richards.
BUT if he does nothing else for 90 minutes yet still creates the winner, then he needs to be in the team. You can play badly, get half marks and still be the match-winner. I stand by my 5!
729 Posted 01/02/2012 at 18:51:22
I also have to echo what Ciaran said earlier, that yesterdays result just goes to show that mindset is king and bank balances are not so important as some(including our manager) would have us believe.
City wanted a win last night, they worked hard, but not as hard as us. Straq in particular set the standard and everyone else followed. If we showed half that determination and will to win against the teams we'd played this season we'd be in the top 4 or 5 by now.
738 Posted 01/02/2012 at 19:08:45
I have said all season that I expect us to get more points than we did last season -even now - but be sure that we will still finish a mile behind city and the other rich clubs, as will every other poverty stricken team in every other league.
We showed marvelous spirit last night and that can take you a long way - but you need talent to take you the rest of the way and that cost plenty
747 Posted 01/02/2012 at 19:36:19
I notice the Hibbert critics seem absent, I trust that a few will have the grace to acknowledge his efforts and professionalism displayed last night.
I also think that Srac was excellent and have written on another thread about him.
The efforts of the whole team last night inspired a relatively modest crowd on a bitter evening, as always I ask, what would Goodison be like if we were good ? And then, why can't we play like that every week? But hey ho that is Everton.
Lastly if I may, Which team has conceded least goals against Citeh this season ?
PS Where is Kens report?
024 Posted 07/02/2012 at 05:22:01
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