The quote from Moyes before this game — a fixture that Everton had won in the previous two seasons — was along the lines of, "It's like bringing a knife to a gun fight". Which turned int it's own self-fulfilling prophecty. Uttering such pre-match shite in lieu of motivating the team should be considered a sacking offence.
Nevertheless Everton started brightly against their far more illustrious hosts, swinging crosses in from either side with Rodwell having a rather lame poke from distance too. Baines's first free kick was poor, though and Osman lost the ball, then Baines cut inside but his shot was woeful as Everton totally dominated possession in the first 5 minutes.
A poor defensive header by Jagielka almost let Dzecko in. They inevitably had more possession but were denied space and effectively stymied by dogged defensive work from the boys in Royal blue.
Aguero's first effort on goal came on 18 mins out of very little but he screwed his shot over, as Everton's forays penetrated less and less, while Rodwell went in the book for a sliding tackle on Silva.
Neville switched with Rodwell with the same result: an incident off he ball had the Ethiad crowd screaming after Silva blatantly dived over Neville's leg yet the Everton captain went in Howard Webb's book followed by Osman who tangled with Richards before the half-hour. Yaya Toure was also booked for a late tackle.
City structured something approaching a second chance that Dzecko also screwed over as Everton were forced to stand off a little under fear of more unjust cards. Aguero got his first shot on target that Howard saved well as he was fouled by Dzecko: not given. A poor clearance let Barry have a poke too but Moyes's "keep it tight" plan was holding, just as Everton looked for half-time.
Aguero ran into Baines to more howls but this time no Blues card as Everton let City probe and poke away at a very disciplined Blues defence, with the almost entire second quarter of the game being played in Everton's half.
Everton almost fashioned a chance for Cahill but it was laboured stuff on a rare visit to Hart's goal, and a rather wild cross from Hibbbert before the half-time whistle blew with the Moyes gameplan so far on track.
City attacked with more zest after and Aguero almost forced a goal at Howard's near post before normal service resumed, with Lescott, Fellaini, Coleman and Kompany getting feisty. Aguero was forced to clip one wide from distance.
Some neat work down the Everton left led to a good strike by Osman, straight at Hart, while Howard was well placed to save from a Clichy cross. Fellaini did brilliantly to win a ball that was eventually delivered to Coleman whose hard cross was just too high for Cahill, his header going over.
A gifted series of corners allowed Everton to put some pressure on Hart but Mancini kept at least two attackers up and Everton failed to make use of the space in the City area.
Balottelli was swapped in for Dzeko on the hour as City appeared to become a little frustrated at their failure to break Everton down. Fellaini tried to get a break going but Cahill injured his ankle badly tackling Kompany and he became the fourth Everton booking before Louis Saha replaced him.
Nazri was forced to strike from 20 yards that Howard saved easily and Everton broke rather lamely with Fellaini squandering a good ball from Saha and in the next City attack they finally broke through, an Aguero backheel to Balotelli was deflected wide of Howard's dive by Jagielka's desperate block.
So the gameplan worked for almost 70 minutes, Silva then hitting the post as City smelt blue blood, shots flying in from all and sundry.
Royston Drenthe came on for Phil Neville with 17 minutes left as the Blues became more aggressive in trying to win the midfield. but it was worth nothing when Webb refused to give a free-kick for a blatant Kompany block on Saha, perhaps because he did not want to give Everton a penalty..
Milner replaced Aguero as Drenthe strated to have more impact and Vellios came on in place of Coleman and Everton went full-blown 4-4-2 for the last 10 minutes. An Osman corner came out to Drenthe but he drilled a half-chance over Hart's bar.
Howard had to be alert for a low curling shot from Toure as City won a few corners that kept Everton at the wrong end of the field. Jagielka became the fifth yellow card for Everton. In the last minute, a poor Drenthe mistake allowed City to run at Everton and Milner got the ball in the net to underline the ultimate pointless of Moyes's much vaunted gameplan.
So... the brilliant gameplan, brilliantly enacted by Everton, worked for all but 10 or 15 seconds of the game... and the result? Null points. Voodoo broken.
Success in football is rarely instantaneous but if your definition of "instant" in this context extends to two or three seasons, then Manchester City could be on the verge of achieving just that — near instant success.
Before 2008, City were more or less peers of Everton, a big-city club struggling to escape the shadow of their more famous neighbours, albeit one with considerably fewer trophies in the cabinet and an inferior record in the BSkyB era. After a couple of managerial miss-steps, however, and spending an ungodly amount of money on a galaxy of foreign and domestic stars, Sheikh Monsour has achieved Champions League qualification and, if the early going in the Premier League is any indication, seems to have finally bought his club into title contention.
That, in concert with Blues' own decline in fortunes and squad membership over the past 12 months, has the pundits predicting that this weekend will see Maninci's men put their "Everton bogey" to rest.
David Moyes enjoys the best recent record against City than any other Premier League manager. Everton have won seven of their last eight fixtures against City, done the double over them for the past two seasons, and have won on their last four visits to Eastlands — indeed, they're the last team to have won there in the League.
Of course, while such hoodoos always come to an end at some point, while they remain alive they can weigh on the psyche of their victims and Moyes will no doubt be hoping that can play in his favour at a time when his own charges are grinding out results despite struggling for consistency.
The Blues' surprise 2-0 win in this fixture back in May also came at a time when they weren't playing particularly well but after catching City with a couple of sucker punches and then defending stoutly, they robbed Mancini of three points. More of the same, coming a week after the Manchester side dropped their first points of the season in a 2-2 draw at Fulham, would provide an enormous shot in the arm for Evertonians as they gear up for a particularly difficult run of fixtures.
Moyes's biggest challenge will be two-fold: keeping his defence, a mostly reliable unit that seems to shoot itself in the foot once every game, tight while finding the right combination going forward to make the breakthrough at the other end.
Tim Howard will return after making way for Jan Mucha in the Carling Cup win over West Brom in midweek and the only selection question regarding the back four ahead of him will be whether Phil Neville is retained at right back at the expense of Tony Hibbert for his experience, leadership and new-found shooting boots, or whether those assets will be utilised in midfield.
Up front, seeing as Moyes is likely to don his Captain Conservative cape for this trick game, Manchester City nemesis Tim Cahill is the likely candidate to lead the line as the lone striker. If so, that would leave the biggest question marks hanging over midfield, where John Heitinga, Jack Rodwell and Phil Neville are in competition to partner Marouane Fellaini in the central area, Leon Osman is the prime candidate to play in the hole if Cahill plays up top, and one of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Royston Drenthe will play wide left.
Despite his impressive start to the campaign, Ross Barkley's confidence is unlikely to be risked against this calibre of opposition given his unfortunate error at Blackburn.
Any seasoned observer of Moyes's side will know the gameplan already going into this one: keep it tight and hope to nick a goal, relying heavily on set-pieces to trouble a City defence that hasn't been breached on home soil since the 1st of May. The Blues have been playing some really nice football at times this season, though, and if their hosts do offer them the kind of space that they allowed them last season, though, Moyes's boys could really make a game of this against the latest media darlings of the Premier League.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2011-12 Reports Index|
|When Skies Are Grey||Report|
|Everton fans' reports|
|Other media reports|
|4 the Game||Report|
|MAN CITY (4-4-2)|
|Nasri (83' Savic)|
|Dzeko (60' Balotelli)|
|Aguero (78' Milner)|
|Subs not used|
|Neville:25' (73' Drenthe)|
|Coleman (81' Vellios)|
|Cahill:63' (66' Saha)|
|Subs not used|
|Premier League Scores|
|9||Queens Park Rangers||8|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||4|