I think its engrained in the psyche of every long suffering City fan that when the fixtures came out in July that we may have actually been more worried about Everton away than Chelsea at home. Last week there were so many narratives to be told with Eva-gate, City fans long standing hatred of Mourinho, second versus first, Pellegrini v Mourinho and even the new stand opening that buried under everything was the actual football. So many diversion tactics it diverted one team from playing any football.
This week it was more tentative as we’d won only three times at Goodison in the Premier League era, preparing ourselves for the typical combative style that we usually drop points to as failed to deal with players like Cahill, Felliani, Lukaku, god even Gibson and to be forever told that this was a proper football club because they once produced an England International who they sold to a proper football club who proudly hate scousers.
Fortunately for City, Everton’s days of horrible percentage stuff under David Moyes has been replaced by the more aesthetically pleasing football from Roberto Martinez and whilst a front four of Kone, Lukaku, Barkley and even the chance of a Barry or Clevelery haunting was always there they are much more open at the back these days.
In the two games previous City have had a game where they scored early and then steamrollered the opposition into submission (West Brom) and then getting a break through early on and then hitting a team on the counter (Chelsea). This time it was going to be different so it was good that this was the third type of victory as City started well, created several chances early on, allowed the opposition to come back into the game but then lifted themselves again, something we didn’t do last year, and finally break down Everton’s resistance.
I may have been in the minority but I was as satisfied by the performance as any of the other games as it’s rare when City have won a game for the goals to have come so late after missing several early chances. Usually City will start like a house on fire bag a couple of goals, let the home side back into it and then recede as they tried to defend a lead. This time they started well, resisted when Everton made a late surge in the first half, took the impetus in the second half and just when the game lulled a little they punished Everton for switching off.
City played really well and I’m really loving Jesus Navas at the moment, he comes in for a lot of criticism because he often takes a touch when crossing the ball usually allowing the full back to get the block in but I’ve always thought that because no one can keep up with him he has to take that touch and let the others catch up. Now with both Sterling and Aguero to really aim for he’s been driving them across first time and it’s just a matter of when Sterling will get on the end of one rather than if he will. Defensively he has always covered his own, always the big factor in picking him over Nasri, but he and Sagna continue to link up in a way that he and Zabaleta never managed to work out. He should have scored though. All those extra touches came back at once as he couldn’t work out what to do. Hopefully it was just because he had Sergio in his fantasy team.
I’m delighted with the defence so far and in particular the centre backs as they won every header in front of the penalty area and read the game superbly. I’m delighted Mangala hasn’t gone to Valencia and it shows, once again, that if you give players time to adjust to our league they can make big improvements. I thought he had another good game with two only minor points; the first is not to back heel down the touch line when we are winning 1-0 with 10 minutes to go. Mangala just needed to carry on with what he’d done for the first 70 and hoof into touch, there is nothing wrong with conceding a throw in. The other is the booking he picked up, I’ve some sympathy in the sense that with the midfield partnership of Fernandinho and Toure the back four are going to be exposed on occasion but he just needs to stay on his feet, not get so tight in those situations and force the player wide and rely on his team-mates to cover for him.
Once again I thought it was another performance where every single player in the team contributed in a positive way, the balance, the work rate and the energy is all you can ask for but some of the football was borderline ridiculous. Of course there was one man at the centre of it all.
I don’t know what football they grow up on in Nottingham as according to the Guardian’s Jamie Jackson he is only the 31st best player in the World by virtue Spain of having had a bad world cup but for me David Silva is the best player in the Premier League. Once again his passing, his movement and his vision were world class and he ran the game for the entirety of the time he was on. At half time they were talking about how to stop City and Sam Allardyce basically said sacrifice McCarthy and man mark Silva. The beauty of our team so far this season is that you cannot double up on anyone as the team is so balanced they can expose extra space so well but teams have tried to man mark Silva and failed; the man could find five yards of space in a toilet cubicle.
There so many brilliant moments from Merlin but my favourite was when he was surrounded by three Everton players equally trying to kick him or tug on his shirt, he turned them inside out and still managed to play in Fernandinho, mesmerising! They need to start inventing new superlatives for the man.
Short of Liverpool putting seven past Arsenal tonight (actually hope they do) City will finish the round of games top of the league with a run of games leading up to the Derby on the 25th October that can be described as the right kind of tough but winnable. Its early days but it could be a big start in the title race if they can win the next five starting with Watford at home next Saturday.