PART THE FIRST: Listen to Winston
Coarse language aside, let's keep in mind our recent history at Goodison Park before we start, um, patting ourselves on the back. Put it this way-the last time we won an away game vs. Everton, Barack Obama was running for President for the first time. We didn't win last year, we didn't win in the title year, we didn't win there the year we won the FA Cup and we didn't win the year before that or the year before that. If you've been perusing some chat boards and noticing a lack of chest-pounding from City fans it's because we're all too aware of our history at Everton and we're all too aware of what happened today: Liverpool in front of the home crowd, against a talented but depleted side, playing for Stevie G. and their first league title within sight... and they lose in fairly convincing fashion.
If we are to win, we'll have to take three games in eleven days and don't get me started on how we play with tired legs. Yes, we looked damn good today. I'm happy. You're happy. But to state the obvious, 5/11 is still a long way away.
PART THE SECOND: PFA Team of the Year
It's Cech, Shaw, Kompany, Cahill, Coleman, Hazard, Yaya, Gerrard, Lallana Suarez and Sturridge. I've taken strong issue with PFA TOY's in the past but this is pretty solid work. I'd put Tim Howard over Peter Cech, I'd do my damndest to put David Silva in there somewhere but those are extremely solid selections. It's what happens when the Rag glasses are finally taken off (I still throw up in my mouth when I recall Rio Ferdinand making the squad last season). Looking at those eleven names, keeping in mind the season is not over yet, who would you most like to have on your team?
I'll take Yaya.
In City's latest "biggest game of the season", no one played better than #42. I've watched the match twice and there is just no doubt that Yaya Toure is both the best player on the team and the team leader. It's Yaya who is directing traffic, it's Yaya the other City players are looking for, and it's Yaya making the big plays when the team so desperately needs to have big plays made. That pass to Edin Dzeko could've hit a dime on the Bosnian's forehead. A few times, he even provided significant help in the area near Joe Hart. I saw (and you saw) him outrun three opponents in a sprint downfield (not bad for a guy who unfairly gets the lazy tag) and of course there was his recent goal of the year candidate where he somehow was able to ward off defenders while at the same time running downfield to fire a loose-ball strike into the net with his weaker foot while not looking at goal. It was a no-look strike. I freely admit my bias but in the biggest games of the year, there is no one I'd rather have on my side than Yaya Toure and that includes a certain Uruguayan center-forward who couldn't put one past City or Chelsea and is currently, like the rest of his teammates, hoping against for a City slip-up. The difference between Luis Suarez and Yaya? Yaya just refuses to let us lose. If we beat Everton next week, I think I'm safe in believing that Yaya Toure will have something to do with it and I can't say the same thing about Luis Suarez these days. I'll take Yaya for PFA Player of the Year, without apology.
PART THE THIRD: Advice for Aguero
In the 54th minute, Sergio Aguero was at the top of the Crystal Palace box and nutmegged a defender as he is wont to do. During the play, Aguero got clipped, kept his feet, but lost the ball. Commentator Tim Howard said, "Aguero was almost too honest there. When he gets the nutmeg, I think the Crystal Palace player clips his toe just a little bit and he stayed in on his feet. You see a lot of players (inaudible) go down and try to win a free kick. Had he gone down, I think he would've gotten it."
Thus is summarized my problem with City's best striker. It is wholly admirable to never dive (as Sergio never does) and to fight through every scratch and claw to stay on your feet and keep the play going. Wholly admirable, that is, unless you want to win games and stay healthy. In that situation, Sergio Aguero needed to go to ground like every other striker on the planet probably would have done. A free kick just outside of the box with Kolarov and Toure on the pitch would've been far better than a counter-attack going on the way. And besides the micro benefit, there is the macro joy of Sergio doing what he can to avoid injury. Strikers of his talent are going to take punishment. I get that it's an Argentinian thing-Tevez rarely, if ever, took a dive and Messi rarely dives. But I've seen both of those guys go to ground when fouled. If the Aguero doesn't go to ground, the foul won't get called-that much has been communicated to players over the years by the Barclay's Premier League officials. I don't want him to be a diving diva like Suarez and I don't want him waving his arms like Rooney. But I do expect Sergio Aguero to do what's best for the team and for him-go to ground when fouled. The alternative, to my mind, is a continuing battle with injuries and frankly, we're a much better team with Sergio than without him.
PART THE FOURTH: Javi be Praised
What a great lineup Pellegrini had for today's match in a matchbox. On a small pitch against a physical side (as is any side coached by Tony Pulis), our Chilean leader shrewdly went with strength and height and the payoff was a wonder to behold. Javi Garcia was born for these kinds of matches, where the action is being brought to him. There was a few timely slide tackles, more than a few balls sent away from danger in the air and overall defensive sense that was, to borrow a cliché, a joy to behold. I liked the Kolarov selection for similar reasons. It's not often a Pulis-led side gets pushed around but that's what happened today and Javi Garcia was a big reason why. If not for Yaya, he'd be my man of the match.
PART THE FIFTH: Poll!
You know what to do.