Everton 0 - 2 Manchester City
It’s been a strange build-up to this game with many wanting Everton to win, many wanting Everton to lose, but most in unison that we were likely to be on the end of quite a hiding. Myself, with the season going nowhere for us, I wasn’t overly concerned with the result from the game, but was with the performance. Our efforts have been so flat these last few months that regardless of the result, Evertonians really needed to see something from their team and it was pleasing to see the players put a shift in for the fans. Likewise it was great to see and hear the supporters rally behind the team.
We arrived at the pub in good time and found that Marco Silva had taken the opportunity to shuffle his pack. Perhaps a combination of Marco dropping some players after our poor showing against Wolverhampton Wanderers, and maybe with an eye on our somewhat more winnable game at Vicarage Road on Saturday. Either way, I was pleased to see Richarlison didn’t make the starting XI after a very poor showing against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Glyfi Sigurdsson, also disappointing against Wolves, also failed to make the team, while Seamus Coleman was replaced by Jonjo eKenny.
We spent a few minutes too long in the pub and only just made kick off, the teams all on the pitch and ready to go as we got to our seats. Goodison Park in fine voice with Evertonians well behind their team. Everton responded from the off, Dominic Calvert-Lewin counter-attacking from the off down the right hand side and putting a ball into the box. It goes to show, that if you give Evertonians something to shout about, they’ll always get behind the team.
Still, while Everton put in a very good effort, Manchester CIty should have been ahead earlier in the half. Aymeric Laporte headed wide with a great chance (yes, a free header from a corner), and Ilkay Gundogan slotted onto the crossbar when well placed inside the penalty area. Bernardo Silva also drove at goal only for his effort to deflect wide off Sergio Aguero. Otherwise, Leroy Sane struck just wide from the edge of the penalty area, and Kurt Zouma had to be alert to block an effort from Gundogan as Manchester City threatened. Everton stood firm though, and dug in well, and even, briefly, looked semi-threatening themselves in the first half, and it was Bernard who came closest to scoring for us when his header at goal deflected off Kyle Walker and drifted just by the post with Ederson scrambling.
Just as we looked as though we were getting to half time, disaster struck - as it always seems to lately, when Everton gave away their customary free kick. Idrissa Gueye flying in unnecessarily on David Silva and giving Manchester CIty an opportunity. Everton were caught out with Manchester CIty’s dummy run from the free kick. It’s a worry how easily this bewildered them, but David Silva’s ball in was met, unchallenged by Laporte, and just on half time Manchester City had an advantage. All that hard work in the first half undone by another defensive set-piece lapse, and it certainly again felt like Groundhog Day as the lads trudged down into the changing room, head-bowed. The stunned Goodison Park faithful applauded them off at the break, a break which saw some lad slip on his backside trying to hit the crossbar.
Everton began the second half on the front foot, and that they very much stayed for large parts of the half, albeit without creating a great deal. Idrissa Gueye let fly very speculatively from distance which Ederson quite comfortably held on to; but otherwise, despite a lot of pressing and effort from the lads, we couldn’t quite fashion the opportunity we craved. Confidence is still an issue for the players. They are trying, but perhaps need to be braver and show more belief when presented with opportunities to create something in front of goal..
While Manchester City won’t have many tougher games on the road throughout the season, they did grit it out and, especially in the last 10 minutes, managed those game very well with Fernandinho immense and doing a very good, if irritating, job of slowing the game down and seeing it out. Seeing Manchester City bring on Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and then Kevin De Bruyne also demoralised a bit, and as it happened the latter two of them substitutes combined with the last action of the game when De Bruyne slipped Jesus through as Everton tried to get forward. The Brazilian was able to score on the second attempt once his effort was well saved by Jordan Pickford.
So a defeat, but one in which you could at least be proud of the team. The players gave it their all and came up against the best team in the league. You can’t ask for more than that, and you really can’t say that much about Everton this season. The crowd acknowledged this also, singing and applauding the players off at full time.
I hope the players get the message now - that we are with them if they show us something. However I will remain sceptical that the players have it in them to put in a similar effort in our next game at Watford on Saturday.
It would be great to be wrong of course, but these new dawns really need to be seen to be believed from Everton..
Pickford: Had one moment which he got away with when he came out to punch and Aguero nearly scored with an overhead volley, but otherwise he was fine and distributed well. 7
Digne: Did fine. 6
Keane: Not bad defensively but his distribution is very poor at times. 6
Zouma: Did fine. 6
Kenny: An excellent effort from Jonjoe, and he must have done his long term prospects no harm at all. It’ll be interesting to see if he keeps his place on Saturday. 7
Gueye: Is certainly missed when he isn’t there and puts in a lot of good tackles. Made a silly, and costly, foul for the goal though. 7
Gomes: Not quite at the races. The game seemed a bit too quick for him. 5
Davies: My man of the match. He was everywhere and lead by example. Well done Tom. 7
Walcott: Had a very good 35 minutes in the second half before being substituted. 6
Bernard: Worked hard but didn’t quite get on the ball enough. 6
Calvert-Lewin: Led the line well, was brave and kept on going. 6
Sigurdsson (for Gomes): Got involved. 6
Richarlison (for Barnard): Did OK. 6
Tosun (for Walcott): Also got involved and worked hard in his time on the pitch. 6