Much has been made of City’s victory over Everton on Saturday by now. Some describe it as ‘hard fought’, others have elected to cheapen themselves by crying on about Everton supposedly lying down and letting City win – A situation that bears no relation to what actually happened. Here are some belated thoughts…
Off The Pitch
To start, a quick note about a few things that happened off the pitch; the commentators and pundits staffing the Sky offices on Saturday were appalling. Graeme Souness, Gary Neville and, especially, Martin Tyler embarrassed themselves. Their extended group mardy in recent weeks is becoming so severe that even fans of other clubs who might agree with them to an extent are picking up on it. The pro-Liverpool/anti-City crowd have proven themselves to be terrible losers…and City haven’t even won the title yet. When Jamie Redknapp is the voice of reason in a maelstrom of insanity then we have a problem. Souness looked and sounded like someone had killed his pet off screen and the Neville/Tyler dream team were audibly dejected. It’s the overwhelming childishness which stands out.
I love it.
Accusations of Everton not trying or their fans not being into it are clearly false ones which comes from a place of bitterness. They were extremely impressive, especially Ross Barkley who must go to the World Cup. His strike was perfect. The first time hit curving up and over Joe Hart in the City goal will live long in the memory. Barkley also showed his remarkable ability to carry to the ball forwards at speed. It sounds simple, but to do it in a fashion that has defenders backing off you constantly is a rare ability. He would look good in a lighter shade of blue…
Also impressive were Steven Naismith and Gerard Deulofeu when he came on in the second half. The defence was not up to scratch yesterday with Alcaraz in particular looking not really a lot like a professional footballer, but that almost didn’t matter as Everton could have scored at several other points to draw the match.
Everton’s rise under Martinez this year following the stultifying football played under his predecessor has been well documented and it will be extremely interesting to see how they progress next season, assuming they can keep their current players and add a few more.
One of the features of this City season is the amount of time key players have spent injured and how that has affected the team. It doesn’t seem like an exaggeration to say that we could well have won the league a lot sooner if Aguero, Silva, and Kompany had been fit for longer. Sergio gave us another indication of what he is capable of with a precise strike which beat Tim Howard at his near post and levelled the game at a crucial time. That he was taken of as a precaution(?) a few minutes afterwards seemed fitting. On a similar note, the substitution of Toure worked extremely well and was a worthwhile gamble if it means he is fit for our remaining three hours of the season.
However, it is the little things we can take pleasure in even with all those injuries in mind; City have scored the joint most goals in the league and conceded the joint least. We have the best away record this side of the New Year.
The Bosnian continues to impress in the end of season run in. He scored two more vital goals here and is in probably the form of his City career to date. That this is occurring just before the Summer he might leave the club is the most Dzeko thing ever, but let’s enjoy it whilst it is happening.
His first was another superbly well taken header to go with his goal at Crystal Palace and the second was a well executed finish from two yards that we could be forgiven for thinking he might miss. Thankfully he didn’t and it may prove to be crucial in the title race.
Further improvement recently has come in the areas which he normally is criticised in, i.e. overall workrate and defensive duties, first touch control of the ball, and holding off defenders properly rather than just giving the ball away. With regards to his four minute long rest…well, that wasn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever seen on a football pitch, but he went far beyond the point where he could just get up and obnoxiously stuck with his gambit which I can respect.
He can be an unbelievably frustrating player and hopefully if he stays then he will continue his current form, remembering the fact that we all really, really like him when he does it. His interplay with the crowd recently should stick in his mind.
And The Rest
Another decent defensive performance despite the screeching from the pundits after the game. There comes a point when blaming City’s defence for everything actually becomes insulting to Everton. Barkley’s goal was undefendable. Lukaku’s goal was the end point of a simply superb Leighton Baines cross, a fact which seems to have been lost in the rush.
Joe Hart’s save from Naismith brought a smile to the face as he saved the three points and atoned for early season errors. The new iteration of Hart as a more humble, commanding, and generally more grown up goalkeeper is far superior to our old Malibu drinking friend Hartdog.
Finally, we really all have to just ignore the media at this point. Most of them don’t like this new City, most of them want us to lose. I for one will just be pretending they don’t exist and enjoying the last week of this, in many ways, bizarre season of football.
Written by Alex Timperley who is on Twitter