After a 1-1 draw at the Etihad earlier this year, most people believed this would be a tough, close game for both Manchester City and Everton. However, an inefficient City backline led Everton to a dominant 4-0 win over the Sky Blues.
City managed solid attacking prowess, with 70% possession and four shots on target, but they were not clinical in front of goal. Everton were the polar opposite, however, as the Merseyside club scored from all four of their shots on target.
Here’s a look at the game from a City fan’s perspective.
Once again, the City defense proved vulnerable when they’re under even the slightest pressure. They make simple mistakes and are punished for it on the counter attack.
That’s exactly how Everton’s first two goals were scored. Missed passes from Gaël Clichy and Yaya Touré led to counter attacks for Everton. Kevin Mirallas picked up the ball and put a low ball into Romelu Lukaku, who composedly finished into the back of the net to make it 1-0. Later, an unlucky bounce from a good John Stones tackle on the second opportunity led to a quick move from Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas, who scored a superb far-post goal past Claudio Bravo.
Let's also give credit to Tom Davies. The young Everton midfielder was more energetic than anyone in City’s defense, and he finally scored in the 79th minute after pushing Everton into the attack all game. A chip over Bravo’s head was the dagger, and the score was a painful 3-0.
This wasn’t the final goal, sadly. Youngster Ademola Lookman scored in the last minute of added time, and the goal truly summed up the disappointing City performance: a sluggish City defense made mistakes and suffered the consequences when Everton capitalized.
While I like the decision from Pep Guardiola to put Pablo Zabaleta in midfield, the Zabaleta-Touré duo did very little to prevent Everton counter attacks. Fernandinho’s support at the back is hugely missed, especially for his ability to protect the backline and link up play in midfield.
Yaya Touré is clearly out of his prime, and his low work rate is just a shadow of his former self. He is sluggish, slows down the tempo of the attack too much at times, and only contributes when he cherry picks in the Everton half.
The midfield has to absorb more pressure and bring some relieve to the City defense, as both are incapable of stopping fast-break moves from good opponents.
The attack always put pressure on the Everton defense, but there weren’t any outstanding chances. A possible penalty was not called by Mark Clattenburg early in the 12th minute. Raheem Sterling went down after taking a touch from a cross by Kevin De Bruyne, and Clattenburg denied his appeal even though Joel Robles did catch the bottom of Sterling’s feet.
Four shots on target looks good on paper, but none truly posed a threat to Robles. City had 13 shots in total, and not a single one found the back of the net. City have had problems in the past of being clinical, and it was exemplified on Sunday. Their attacking efforts were not enough to catch Everton off guard, and the Toffees backline was much more efficient than City’s.
Next week’s game at the Etihad Stadium against Tottenham Hotspur should be one of the biggest of the season. If City want to remain in the title race, they need to be more efficient at both fronts, as their easy mistakes lead to severe consequences.