COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL
Man City v Everton
It was one of those where I was here, there and everywhere before the game as I had to drop my other half off at a hotel and then a mate off at Manchester Airport. Following that I was able to head on to Eastlands.
Navigationally I couldn’t be any more useless so without the assistance of a sat-nav I just haven’t got a clue where I’m going. Thankfully I have a sat-nav so found Eastlands easily enough though couldn’t find any obvious free places to park on any of the side streets so when I saw a huge sign saying “CAR PARK £5” I settled for that. Once in I realized it was the same place we parked last time I came here…and what a nightmare it was getting out again...more later.
After a quick chippy I went in search of a pub for a quick pint. The first couple of pubs looked ‘sketchy’ at best so I wandered further on and found another one, the un-originally titled ‘Eastlands Bar’ though with a sign outside saying ‘HOME FANS ONLY’. I asked the doorman where there was a pub accommodating away fans but was told there wasn’t any. As I was on my own he let me in. “You’ll be alright” he said…unconvincingly.
I needn’t have bothered as the pub resembled something out of Phoenix Nights. A DJ playing Man City songs and (being a home pub only) not an Evertonian in site. I was quite happy to get into the ground a little early this time.
I’d seen the team news in the pub and so knew Saha and Osman were in for Yakubu and Anichebe, though Yakubu was on the bench, with Anichebe not quite recovered yet. Man City began with Tevez as the lone striker, supported by Bellamy, Ireland and Johnson in offensive midfield. The referee was Peter Walton. We attacked the end opposite to the away fans in the first half.
I felt we started pretty well and dictated the tempo early on, albeit without creating anything. It didn’t take long for Tevez to start stretching us in defence though and Howard had to be at his best to stop him as he got through on goal, getting something onto his effort to slow it down and allow Jagielka to clear just short of the goal line. The Argentine came close again a little later on when he turned inside Distin though was closed down by a posse of black shirts as he shaped to shoot and the ball was deflected away.
This helped Man City gain a bit of confidence and they were knocking the ball about well and really stretching us on the flanks with Johnson and Bellamy. Speaking of which, I don’t know what happened but everyone around me shouted loud about an off-the-ball incident involving the ex-red with Phil Neville, though the referee and his assistant missed it.
Back to the action though and I was relieved when Cahill won himself a free kick down the other end of the field as I thought it could alleviate a bit of pressure…I didn’t really expect us to score. There was quite a collective groan when Arteta played the ball back to Baines. I thought he’d shot at it had somehow scrambled in, though it was only when I saw the corner flag getting punched everywhere that I realized Cahill had scored.
The replay showed it was actually a well worked ball in from Baines which Cahill nodded home…a training ground goal I guess. This settled Everton and we were a lot more comfortable up until the half-time whistle. Other noteworthy incidents in the first half included a soft booking for Heitinga with his first foul, and two fair bookings first for Tevez for a lunge on Jagielka, and one for Given after he ran 60 yards to try and get Arteta booked. Well done referee.
We began the second period in style, knocking the ball around smartly and defending stoutly when we had to. Arteta, Osman and Cahill all struck efforts from distance. Whilst Arteta’s was straightforward for Given, Osman’s had the Irishman sweating as he clipped it just past the post. The best was Cahill’s. He picked up the ball once Arteta had been fouled with Walton playing advantage. He looked up and went for the lob, getting it over Cahill though unfortunately just past the post…very unlucky.
If we re on the backfoot for long periods of the first half we certainly reversed the trend in the second period. Whilst Man City did get in and around our box quite a bit their end product was never really good enough. Moreover, I don’t recall Howard having to make any saves at all in the second half, which was just as well given that the American was injured and couldn’t take goal kicks. Late on in the game he punched away a corner, landing awkwardly in the process. It looked as though Carlo Nash was going to make his Premier League debut for Everton though Howard powered through.
It was just as well then that we got our two goal cushion wth five minutes left as I’ll wager we’d have been dragged through the grinder here. The goal was a brilliant one. Substitute Rodwell skinned Kompany beautifully before surging into the box, playing the ball across to Cahill. He hurdled it leaving it for Arteta who stroked home masterfully to seal the points.
There was still time for drama off the field with Mancini and Moyes both pointlessly sent off for a nothing spat. Man City did attempt to keep up the pressure but as injury time ticked on, you felt they could have played all night and not scored…and so it proved. Their supporters thought so to…many of them leaving well before the full time whistle. A second consecutive cleansheet. A second consecutive 2-0 win, and a third successive game in which we’ve scored two goals in a game.
Getting home was hell. Like last time the Police didn’t let me cross this pointless little barrier so I had to walk all the way round the main gate to get to my car. Once in my car I had to wait the best part of an hour before I was out of the most ridiculous of car parks. It basically holds 1000 cars and has one exit in the corner which everyone has to squeeze out off and is basically a free for all so I’ll need a new parking spec for next season. It got worse getting home also. Given that I’m reliant on a sat-nav a road closure sends me and my dated device into a state of chaos so finding my way back home was a bit more hellish than I’d have liked, though I still made it back for midnight.
Fantastic again Everton. We’re now three points behind Aston Villa and Liverpool, five behind Manchester City and seven behind Spurs. I like the way everyone keeps ignoring us and we’re going about it quietly, and have you seen Spurs run in? They could suffer badly next month. Keep up this form and who knows where we’ll end up.
Said that…wouldn’t it be just like Everton to go and blow it at Wolves on Saturday after tonight’s great work.
Come on Everton…don’t bottle it now.
- Howard: Made some great saves in the first half and battled on manfully in the second despite clearly being crippled. 8
- Baines: Struggled at times against Johnson which is why I was surprised Mancini took him off. Seemed to find it easier up against Sean Wright-Philips. 6
- Jagielka: I don’t care if he’s distributions generally poor given how long he’s been out. I love his knowledge of where to be and when to be there also. With Lescott’s injury he may just make the World Cup yet. 7
- Distin: Similarly, distribution isn’t his forte and he does dither on the ball at times but defensively he was absolutely spot on. 7
- Neville: Distribution not great but he put in a solid shift against Bellamy. 7
- Heitinga: Unfair booking I felt. He did put himself about well though and broke up play all game. 7
- Pienaar: My man of the match. Amazing work rate and use of the ball. 8
- Osman: After a sheepish first half he was excellent in the second period, working tirelessly and getting in their faces. 7
- Arteta: Poked the ball around delightfully. Faded at times in the second half but then popped up with the settler. Just great to see him getting back, and better game on game. 7
- Cahill: Cracking performance from Cahill. I thought going into the game he was due a performance and a goal and he certainly gave both of those tonight. 8
- Saha: Needed more from him I felt and was rightly subbed about midway through the second half. 5
- Rodwell (for Saha): Set up the second goal brilliantly. 7
- Yobo (for Arteta): Not on long, can’t judge.
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1 Posted 25/03/2010 at 04:25:14
I have criticised Moyes this year and I have criticised individual players at times but there comes a moment when it all comes together and this could be Everton's time. We could fall again but I really do doubt it. Wolves away will be a very tricky one but hopefully we have just a bit too much class for them.
2 Posted 25/03/2010 at 04:36:41
As has been said on here by a few posters in the past, "I suppose we can't really count Timmy's header goal because if you take away all his header's he doesn't score much". Have you ever heard such crap in your life. Sorry, I just had to bring that up as it has been peeving me for weeks. Funny how his goal turned the game massively in our favour.
Great performance by Jags and Distin as well.
3 Posted 25/03/2010 at 07:03:03
I also empathise with your parking problems. It took us over 2 and half hours to get there from Liverpool — was going to park by stadium, but being late, parked up in car park on road in. No prices, but as I got out of car he said 'that'll be 10 quid'. Had no time to find anywhere else so paid. Later the road was jammed — got back about 11.30. Horrible place to get out of, but do you know what — I didn't mind one bit!!!!
4 Posted 25/03/2010 at 08:45:25
I criticised Cahill against Bolton but said to my mate he has to play against the big boys as he always does it time and time again and he never let us down. Keep these players add some pace up front and who knows what next season can bring.
5 Posted 25/03/2010 at 09:36:50
Ireland was looking well up for it and Jonny fixed him good!
Cynical I know but it did the job!
he took one for the team!
6 Posted 25/03/2010 at 13:25:57
The Sky (pun intended) is the limit for this team but in the Premier league it's not the best but those with the best resources who succeed. Will everton stand up and be counted or cash in on the wonderful assets that we have? Was the twat Benitez right when he called us "small".
I can see parking getting even harder next year.
7 Posted 25/03/2010 at 19:29:08
Centre forward? Big Dunc restored?
Only a whimsical notion.
8 Posted 26/03/2010 at 13:14:00
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