The ultimate game of two halves witnessed a rampant Everton overcome a first half chasing from Manchester City to emerge as winners in a classic game at Goodison Park
The Blues made one change in personnel from last week atWigan, with Heitinga coming in for Cahill. The Blues lined up 4-2-3-1 with Rodwell starting on the right of the 3 attacking midfielders with Osman central and Arteta right, although these interchanged as the half progressed. City started in a similar setup with Vieira coming in for Barry and Milner replacing Johnson on the right with Dzeko fronting the attack.
Silva show runs Blues ragged
As mentioned in the preview, Silva is City’s creator in chief, and for the first 45 minutes he ran the Blues ragged. Hibbert is an adequate performer when tasked with a winger who runs at him such as Adam Johnson, but tasked with a player like Silva who floats from one side to the next he struggles. One minute the Spaniard was bamboozling Hibbert on the left to fire just past Howard, the next he was finding pockets of space down the right to setup Yaya Toure for the games opening goal, albeit following a poor error of judgement from Distin. The Blues simply couldn’t live with him, with Neville and Heitinga, the two anchor men tasked with patrolling the space between the lines, left redundant to his superior movement.
Mancini had done his homework on the Blues left side with Milner preferred to Johnson specifically to track Baines as shown by the below interceptions chart for City – notice the massive cluster all down our left side.
Second Half turnaround
The second half witnessed David Moyes make several key changes to the Blues setup. Firstly he withdrew Hibbert – Neville reverted to fullback, Rodwell took Neville’s anchor role but with more of a licence to get forward and Anichebe dropped to the right of the attacking mids and Beckford spearheading the attack. With the left side shut off, the Blues focused attacks down the right.
As mentioned above, City’s first half dominance was inspired by their diminutive Silva. In the second period the playmaker made 0 passes into our18 yardbox in comparison to 4 and 1 assist in the first half. The introduction of Beckford, a striker with real pace led City’s defence to drop deep, meaning the gap between their defence and Silva in particular grew as the second half progressed, leaving the Spaniard playmaker increasingly isolated as the half went on.
Mancini long ball claim
Roberto Mancini’s rather bitter post match comments referenced Everton’s ‘long ball’ game in the second period. Lets look at the passing stats for the game…the below 6 zones are in minutes of the game (e.g zone 1 is 0-15mins)
In the period Everton took control with the 2 goals (area 5 above) we recorded our lowest pass completion figure, but we registered more passes overall into City’s final third during this time than any other in the game. The only period in the game where our passing completion was better than City’s was in the last period (65% v 64%) when City themselves where playing more direct chasing the goal that would get them back in the contest. This shows us that the more desperate both teams got when looking for the goals, the more killer passes they attempted, which can often lead to pass completion % going down.
With the game edging towards the Blues, Moyes made his second key change, bringing on Cahill for Rodwell -Arteta dropped to centre midfield and Cahill played off Beckford. Anichebe looked much more comfortable running from outside inwards than he did with his back to goal in the first half. The introduction of Cahill caused uncertainty in City’s defence. It was noted in Friday’s preview that if we where to get a result crosses into City’s box would be a likely route. The Blues have made more successful crosses (173) than any other team in the divison. The Blues couldn’t get far enough up the pitch in the first half leading to crosses often being pinged from poor positions and easily dealt with – success rate just 20%…. with our best aerial exponent back in the side and City rocking, the Blues smelt blood with crossing accuracy rising to 36% and deliveries pinged in from left and right in quick succession.
Firstly, Arteta swung in a cross from the right which was headed in by Distin and shortly after following great work from Heitinga, a chipped ball in from Neville led to Osman, the shortest man on the field amazingly leaping above the Kompany, the tallest man on the field to head into Hart’s net. This was a truly superb effort from a great player who has revitalised our season and a header the watching Duncan Ferguson would have been proud of.
A really exciting game this one with City’s passing display in the first half matched by Everton’s spirit and endeavour after the break. A massive second half fightback led by the much maligned Anichebe and talisman Cahill gave the Blues the impetus to fightback what had seemed a lost cause at half time. City are a top side but we again showed that on our day we are a match for anyone in this divison.