We know this article is a little bit late, the match itself happened 6 days ago so sorry about that, but re-watching the match constantly has given me a buzz all week. The game earlier on in the season was a very good watch, two penalty saves and another Everton bottle job. This was a fantastic game; not because of the score line but the way Everton played and stopped the Guardiola ‘total domination’ tactic, which is one way to call it. Here’s my analysis.
Everton only made one change from the defeat to Leicester, Enner Valencia replaced by Kevin Mirallas upfront. The Toffees started in a 352, Robles in goal with Holgate, Funes Mori and Williams in defence. Coleman and Baines started on the wings, with Barry in defensive midfield. Ross Barkley and Tom Davies completed the midfield set, Lukaku and Mirallas starting upfront.
Man City made one change from the victory over Man City, Willy Caballero being replaced by Claudio Bravo in goal. Sagna, Stones, Otamendi and Clichy making the defence. Zabaleta and Toure started in defensive midfield, with Sterling, Silva and De Bruyne completing the midfield. Sergio Aguero started upfront.
From quite a dull half in general, you could tell this was a very close tactical battle between two legendary Barcelona figures. Every Guardiola side dominates possession and we saw exactly that. Guardiola usually has one player that commands the ball going forward, at Barcelona it was Iniesta, at Bayern it was Thiago and at City it is David Silva.
Everton done extremely well to not allow him to dictate the play, Silva lost the ball more times than any other player on the pitch.
Although Manchester City didn’t actually give the ball away that much when in possession, there was a complete failure from the front men to create any space when going forward (baffling considering the amount of money they all cost the club).
We all know Koeman’s ideology is to press, aggressively and at pace. It was for the first time, in my opinion, that we didn’t stop doing this once throughout the 90 minutes. Putting the team in a 352 allowed both Baines and Coleman to press high up the pitch, whilst Barkley would sometimes join the front two of Lukaku and Mirallas to press the backline.
Another noticeable trend this season has been the overload on the wide channels – especially on the right side of the pitch. Not all the players would necessarily be on the ball carrier either but scattered around in the channel.
When we were on the ball in the final third, Everton where extremely quick at times. This is what helped us take the lead. Davies’ intercepting and instantly finding Mirallas in space, who found Lukaku, who slotted home.
Manchester City still totally controlled the ball, but in my opinion, Everton were always looking more dangerous. From the first minute to the hour-mark, Man City had 599 touches of the ball, which was almost double the amount of touches we had. Another tactic in the Koeman’s ideology is the counterpress. When losing the ball, his side would press up the pitch higher. It was the first time we really saw this come together.
Everton have also missed another element this season, being clinical. We’ve had at total of 8.3 shots per goal ratio, the total average of all the other 19 PL clubs is 8.6 shots per goal, so compared to us we are slightly under this. It’s not necessarily the striker we have; it’s more the creativity behind it. Within 47 minutes of this match, we had two shots and two goals.
Once again, Everton’s press was at play, giving no space for a City player to have an attempt at goal, de Bruyne shooting widely wide. Robles boots forward, Yaya Toure spilling possession, Barry to Lukaku, his ball intercepted by Stones but falling for Ross Barkley who plays in Mirallas to score his first goal at Goodison this season.
Although City controlled the tempo, it was odd to see them not tracking back as well when losing possession. This made Everton even more dangerous on the counter, especially Barkley who is arguably one of the best ball-carries in the league (that’s not judging him overall, please calm down).
The amount of possession didn’t really change, City obviously topping the passing statistics but when the back passing was in play they looked frantic, almost intimidated to have the ball. Silva was somehow still the ‘target man’ if you will in midfield, having 15% of the 70% possession City contained – to compare against ours, the player who had most of the ball was Tom Davies, who had 4.7% possession (from minutes 60 to full time).
Replacing Mirallas and Barry with Schneiderlin and McCarthy cemented the victory for us. Every Man City player was comfortably dealt with and the visitors found it increasingly difficult to get into our penalty area. Tom Davies made the game out of sight for City with an astonishing goal. Holgate winning the ball and the rest was all Davies, beating both Toure and Clichy with one move, Barkley playing the ball back into Davies who dinks it over Bravo. One word, Kaiser.
The game was capped off with another youngster scoring for the Blues. Lookman came on in the 90th minute, replacing the impressive Ross Barkley. Two touches later, he scored his first Premier League goal for Everton. Stones clearing the ball straight into Coleman, who found Lookman, one touch to settle it, one touch to finish it under Bravo.
What a result.
A few talking points
Firstly, the ability to shut down David Silva was very impressive. As mentioned earlier, he is the player that dictates the tempo of the entire play and when he failed to produce so did the rest of that City team. One big problem for the visitors was a problem we faced under a certain Spanish manager, no plan B.
For Everton, play like we did and we can beat anyone, no exaggeration. Our pressing play, for the first time under Koeman, was absolutely top notch. It’s no surprise that when Tom Davies is on the pitch, we don’t concede and the amount of goals we score increases. He totally bossed it. Another mention goes to Barkley, who has noticeably stepped up in recent times. Although it is a myth when people say, “if he had better players around him, he’d be better”, I think the point is when players around him show up, so does he.
Everton were brilliant. As we’ve said, we will have games were it is déjà vu for us and when we just don’t show up, but this was the first game we saw a team that Koeman desires at the club. I do believe that we will be bringing in one or two more players into the squad sometime in January, Schneiderlin and Lookman both look quality buys. Brilliant game.
Stats via Squawka and Whoscored,
Up the Toffees.