27/12/2023 36comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 3 Man City

Everton's final home game of 2023 ended in defeat as Manchester City eventually prevailed, but the key moment of the contest was laden with controversy as Amadou Onana was adjudged to have illegally handled in the box and Julian Alvarez scored what proved to be the winner from the spot.

The Toffees led last season's treble winners at half-time thanks to Jack Harrison's 29th-minute strike but a brilliant goal from Phil Foden levelled matters eight minutes into the second half before Alvarez drove home his penalty and a late Jordan Pickford error gifted Bernardo Silva City's third with four minutes left of the regulation 90.

Sean Dyche had rotated his strikers, opting for Beto from the start, and deployed André Gomes in central midfield in the absence of the injured Idrissa Gueye while James Garner continued in the role behind the striker with Abdoulaye Doucouré still unavailable.

Pep Guardiola's side started with their customary dominance of the ball and the hosts had Pickford to thank for the fact that the visitors didn't grab the lead inside a quarter of an hour. The England goalkeeper saved well from Alvarez in the fourth minute and then denied the Argentine and Mateus Nunes with a terrific double-save after City had carved Everton open on the counter-attack.

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Pickford was there again in the 24th minute with a smart one-handed save to keep Jack Grealish's toe-poke out before the Blues started to make inroads at the other end. First, a corner was hooked clear from under City's crossbar from a corner and, three minutes after that, Harrison struck.

Everton's pressing forced a trio of defensive errors from City's defence and when Rodri erred trying to pass it back to Manuel Akanji, Dwight McNeil pounced, cut the ball back from the byline and Harrison was there to slip it past Edersen from a couple of yards out and make it 1-0.

The on-loan winger came very close to making it 2-0 shortly afterwards when another corner fell to him just inside the box and his delicious effort with the outside of his boot was heading for the top corner before Edersen got his fingertips to it and pushed it over.

Man City were on course to extend their recent run to just one win in seven in the Premier League but they turned things up a notch again after half-time and Foden put his stamp on the contest with a fine goal.

The ball was worked to the England international outside the box and he picked a spot just inside the left-hand post of the partially unsighted Pickford and arrowed a shot into the net from 25 yards.

He almost doubled his tally straight away when Alvarez centred from the byline and Foden got a touch on it but the ball dribbled across the face of goal and past the far post.

Gomes's needless trip on Grealish just outside the box handed Alvarez the chance to give the visitors the lead but Pickford batted his direct free-kick away. Two minutes later, though, he was given an altogether more routine opportunity when the officials decided to penalise Onana for handball.

The Belgian had slid across to block a shot from Akanji and the ball struck his arm as he tried to protect his face. Referee John Brooks was well-placed but didn't elect to award a penalty until he had checked with his assistant, Lee Betts, who signalled for a spot-kick. Pickford got a foot to Alvarez's conversion but couldn't keep it out and it was 2-1 to City.

Dyche replaced Beto with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and switched Gomes out for Michael Keane in a 3-5-2 formation and with 15 minutes left, the first change almost paid dividends. Harrison fired a dangerous cross to the edge of the six-yard box but, under pressure from a defender and the goalkeeper, Calvert-Lewin could only sweep an effort inches past the near post.

Arnaut Danjuma then replaced Harrison with 10 minutes to go but, instead, it was Manchester City who scored next as Everton tried to play their way out from the back. Pickford's attempted clearance from near the corner flag struck Alvarez, the ball pinged off Jarrad Branthwaite's legs and fell to Bernardo Silva who lofted it into the empty net from 20-odd yards.

Foden tried to rub salt in the wounds with a couple of speculative shots late on, rattling the post in the first minute of stoppage time and then forcing one last parrying save from Pickford.

This was the first time Everton had lost having scored the first goal since Dyche took over 11 months ago and it was a harsh result given the Blues' tireless running and the fact that they had worked so hard to take the lead.

Sadly, as the incident involving Rodri in this fixture three years ago, where the Spaniard got away with the most blatant of handballs, certain teams get questionable penalties awarded and others don't. Guardiola and his men don't need the extra help and there was no consolation for Dyche and Everton that the discussion among the pundits will likely feature plenty of sympathy for the home team.

The Toffees, who are now just a point above the drop zone because of that 10-point deduction and Luton's recent revival, must shrug off a second disappointment in the space of four days, though, and prepare for another stern test, this time against in-form Wolves who hammered Brentford this evening and moved into 11th place in the table.


Reader Comments (36)

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Ian Bennett
1 Posted 28/12/2023 at 07:58:45
It's bent. They pick and choose what they want to give depending on which way the wind blows and who the opposition is.

It's playing against 12 men, when they just surround the referee until they get a decision and demand yellow cards. That was meant to stop, but it is clear it carries on for the big teams until they're winning.

The linesman gives a deadball decision 50 yards away, but couldn't see the Rodri handball two seasons ago, or Zinchenko stroking the ball the other day. There's a clear bias or agenda by the officials and media against the non-favourites.

We've had countless decisions go against us and apologies to managers, when the VAR is meant to be making the right decision. The VAR is just another mechanism to help the favourites, dressed up in an underhand way.

The Gomes 'foul' against Spurs was another example of it. Did he touch him? Yes, but was it strong enough for a foul to be a clear and obvious error?

Well put it this way: do you think we would get a goal overturned if it was the other way? No chance. The commentators would just say great finish from Son and weak defending from Everton...

Barry Hesketh
2 Posted 28/12/2023 at 08:14:04
If the Onana incident happens at the other end of the ground and a City player was involved, I'd want a penalty, no question. Would we have got it – who knows?

First goal for City should have been prevented, Pickford left too much of his near post available to cover it properly, he may have been unsighted but not great keeping.

City are miles ahead of Everton, in fact possibly in a different galaxy, we've had worse performances against them and there's no shame in losing to them, but with Villa and Tottenham up next at Goodison, we're going to have to get points from some of these encounters else, we'll be right back to square one, with or without the points deduction.

Geoff Trenner
3 Posted 28/12/2023 at 08:41:17
Just watched the game as I was working last night. Really good first half by the boys, defence played well, Beto and Garner unsettled their defence and Harrison took his goal well. If only his second shot had gone in.

City were always going to come at us more in the second half. I think that Jordan tried to cover all angles for the first goal but would probably have stopped it if he hadn't been partially unsighted.

How the hell was their second a penalty though? Clearly not deliberate, hit at Onana from very close range, were his hands in an unnatural position? Absolutely not. A joke!

Ray Roche
4 Posted 28/12/2023 at 09:00:48
Barry @2,

Re your first paragraph:

“If the Onana incident happens at the other end of the ground and a City player was involved, I'd want a penalty.”

Think back a couple of seasons and we did have ‘penalty', and a clear penalty, against City, not given despite the VAR's scrutiny. I don't believe all the tripe about things evening themselves out over a season. We don't get a penalty but we might get a contentious throw-in.

Rob Jones
5 Posted 28/12/2023 at 09:17:42
I was speaking to my kopite brother last night after the penalty. Liverpool were denied basically the same penalty on Saturday evening against Arsenal.

They really do pick and choose who they give these penalties against. It's so utterly corrupt.

Jerome Shields
6 Posted 28/12/2023 at 09:41:03
Barry #2

I agree with most of what you say, but don't believe City are in a different galaxy on play. Dyche allowed Everton to defend too deep, giving unmarked City players the freedom of the space on the edge of the penalty area with our midfield defending the 6-yard box, in an already congested defence. IMO he reinforced his intent by bringing Keane on who was always going to play deep.

They are on a different galaxy finishing, in that they would have scored the Calvert-Lewin chance. Also, their goalkeeper would never have been near the corner flag trying to pass the ball. Very few Premier League goalkeepers would.

Did anyone notice how hyper Pickford was? Too many sweets at Xmas!!!!

Jim Bennings
7 Posted 28/12/2023 at 10:51:32
The more I've looked at the penalty, I think I'd be annoyed if we didn't get that.

The fact we don't get them is of course another argument altogether but yes, it was a penalty.

Pickford didn't have his best night, no doubt about that, very erratic and he got away with one of those against Newcastle when Gordon hit it straight at him; don't mess about.

We need to make sure we are back at it on Saturday because Luton's resurgence could prove a problem if we start getting decimated by injury later in the season.

James Marshall
8 Posted 28/12/2023 at 11:00:47
It was handball under the current rules – the issue isn't whether it was handball (it was), the issue is whether the law is correct – it isn't.

We played well against one of the best sides in the world, and at no point did we give up; we were also great against an excellent Spurs side and only narrowly got beat so we have many reasons to be happy with this Everton team moving forward.

The last 2 games won't define our season – the upcoming games will, and for those we can be confident in our team and our management at the moment.

Remember, we'd be 10th right now, and I still believe we'll get a few points back on appeal. Whether I'm right remains to be seen, of course, but even if we don't, I still feel we'll climb the table to a comfortable mid-table finish come the end of the season.

We're a good side.

Kunal Desai
9 Posted 28/12/2023 at 11:02:01
Sell up Premier League, Sell up Richard Masters. Corrupt shitbags.

I'm fairly confident we'll get another 6/7 wins in the second half of the season to keep us in the Premier League.

Jim Wilson
10 Posted 28/12/2023 at 11:11:49
Without Gueye, the midfield was totally overrun.

Like it or not, Gueye is essential to our midfield. He pops up everywhere with tackles and covering; without him, we will struggle – especially against a team like Man City. Onana and Gomes were woeful.

The sooner Gueye is back, the better. He was playing very well before his injury and is totally under-appreciated by many.

The penalty. Just another Corrupt 6 rule. Not a chance of being given had that been the other way around.

Andy Crooks
11 Posted 28/12/2023 at 11:26:34
I like Pickford and think he is the best around at the moment. That's no great compliment. Like most modern goalkeepers, he parries tame shots that would have been caught in bygone days.

The shot he pushed out in the first half would have been held by Pat Jennings and then thrown the length of the pitch into the Man City net!!

Jim Bennings
12 Posted 28/12/2023 at 11:42:03
James @8,

I think we've got the makings of a good side, I'm not sure we are actually there yet to say we are a good side.

I think what Dyche has done is get the very last drop of work out of most of these players, he's improved McNeil and Doucoure, just two to mention, so much that they resemble different players.

We work extremely hard and, at the very least, it feels as though we are getting our identity back, that's on the manager.

I still think we are short in some areas: the lack of a consistent ball-comfortable and creative centre-midfielder and potentially a wide player with a bit more pace.

Gomes could be a big asset but, even before his injury in 2019, he was very hit-and-miss and inconsistent; if Dyche can get him to consistently perform, then that could be a solution short-term.

Tony Heron
13 Posted 28/12/2023 at 11:44:20
Andy @11. I totally agree with your comments re modern goalies.

Pickford in particular seems only to want to parry shots. I can only think this is current coaching philosophy.

Okay, I was only an amateur keeper, but the theory when I played (in the last century!) was that, if you parried, it was only to put the ball dead, ie, out for a corner. The exception being to knock a cross off an opposition head.

At other times, the aim was to gather in or catch direct shots. This modern trend both mystifies and irritates me.

Eric Myles
14 Posted 28/12/2023 at 11:52:15
Tony #13, Ditto

Andy #11, or Gordon West!

I wasn't around to see Big Nev. How did he deal with those situations?

Andrew Ellams
15 Posted 28/12/2023 at 11:57:23
I saw an interview with Neville Southall a couple of years ago and he said he'd been critical of keepers parrying everything.

Then one day, he went down to Finch Farm and stood behind the goal during shooting practice and said he was stunned just how much modern balls move in flight. It was nothing like in his time and made it very difficult to judge a catch properly.

Eric Myles
16 Posted 28/12/2023 at 11:58:10
James #8, your first paragraph is spot on.
Jerome Shields
17 Posted 28/12/2023 at 12:12:39
Gomes seemed to play okay, but his stats when compared were poor.

Gomes Onana Garnier Keane

Shots: 0, 0, 0, 0
Key Passes: 0, 0, 1, 0
Touches: 22, 48, 42, 15
Passes: 11, 38, 25, 13
Passing Accuracy: 54.5, 73.7, 76.0, 76.9%
Tackles: 1, 2, 2, 2
Fouls Won: 0, 0, 2, 0
Fouls: 2, 3, 1, 1

Gomes was the only one to foul in a dangerous area, as per usual, which led to pressure and the Onana arm in the way.

Gomes was the weak link.

Sorry not get the post to line up the figures as I intended.

Robert Tressell
18 Posted 28/12/2023 at 12:15:08
Barry # 2,

Man City's squad is absolutely miles ahead of Everton right now and for the obvious reason — they have spent a fortune.

But there were excellent performances all around the pitch for us – indeed swap Foden and Rodri for Gomes and Onana and I think we'd not only have won but we'd have outplayed them. Foden in particular put in a truly world class display.

The challenge is somehow finding these top class players.

As for Pickford, he cocked up when the game was already lost – and got caught out by a moment of brilliance for the equalizer.

Other than that, I thought he was extremely good. A few of his usual superb saves and good distribution, too. Every week a few (often celebrated) goalies get caught out with a high press. He was unlucky it fell to Bernado because not many players would have had the balance under pressure and ability to score.

As for the Calvert-Lewin miss, he did well to get to the cross at all ahead of the defender and keeper. To have steered it in would have taken an extremely good finish. Haaland and other top strikers miss plenty of those – he just gets about 5 better chances to score every match.

Will Mabon
19 Posted 28/12/2023 at 12:21:04
Basically, we lost 115-1 on sporting advantage.
Rob Jones
20 Posted 28/12/2023 at 12:22:38
Jerome, that's all well and good, but you have to ask why Gomes was playing where he was.

If you're going with that line-up, put Gomes behind the striker, not in central midfield.

Robert Tressell
21 Posted 28/12/2023 at 12:38:18
I thought Gomes played quite well in the first half, picking up dangerous positions, pressing and using the ball reasonably well. He seemed to interchange with Garner as to who was most advanced at any point in time and the two (and McNeil) linked up well I thought too.

The problem was when he tired – then you saw the usual stupid tackle in a dangerous area.

Tony Abrahams
22 Posted 28/12/2023 at 12:45:45
I said it last night but, if Calvert-Lewin would have converted that chance, then I personally think there would have been even more controversy because I'm certain it would have been pulled back for offside against Harrison when we initially broke.

I might be wrong, he still should have hit the target, but what I'm definitely not wrong about is that this was the third time Man City players were all over the officials (it was the linesman after this incident) but whereas other teams might get a couple of yellow cards, the opposite happened last night when City were awarded a penalty kick.

The ref changed his mind in a shot, but was it the linesman or a word in his earpiece that made him do so? This is why I think it's imperative that we are allowed to listen to what these refs have got to say.

John Raftery
23 Posted 28/12/2023 at 12:56:01
The challenge now for our team is to prevent the narrow, unlucky defeat at Spurs marking the start of a lengthy run of consecutive losses. With key players like Gana, Doucouré and Young injured, that will not be easy.

In the bigger picture, our 16 points is 4 points below the mid-season level normally projected for safety. That said, if form from the first half of the season is matched in the second half we would total 42 points in May, in a position of safety if not comfort.

Jerome Shields
24 Posted 28/12/2023 at 14:35:54
Rob #20,

He was in a central midfield role, his stats are still poor. Having both Gana and Doucoure missing left Dyche with no choice. There was no way he was going to get running about unpressurised like the Spurs game, against Man City.

Gomes does what he always does when he can't get onto the ball, he comes deep to get it. When deep, under more pressure as the defensive line moves up into the space, he coughs up possession and then makes stupid fouls trying to recover the ball. It is more petulance than tackling.

Dave Cashen
25 Posted 28/12/2023 at 15:01:12
Talking of stupid "new" rules, I wonder what John Stones thinks of the crazy law which prevents a linesman from raising his flag for clear offside until there is an outcome to an attack.

If the flag goes up immediately for the obvious offside, he doesn't need to make the challenge. I've Just heard he may be out for months... Mindless!

The game is going to fuck.

Niall McIlhone
26 Posted 28/12/2023 at 17:17:34
A fair summary as ever, Lyndon.

Jerome (#6), you have it right, Pickford was back to the version of himself we saw up to last season, all fired up, at times screaming at his own players. At one stage in both the first and second halves, it appeared that Tarkowski had some strong words with him as he was not helping the hoping for cause with his antics.

He is, however, one of the main reasons why we still go in to games with a fair chance of a clean sheet, but the "calm version" of Jordan is the one we need.

Paul Kossoff
27 Posted 28/12/2023 at 18:38:23
Merry Christmas every body, hope you are all well.

How long do we give Everton and Dyche a get out of Dodge card with the, oh hard luck guys, you played brilliantly and should have won but were beaten.

Three games, knocked out of the EFL, no wins, no draws. two losses, two goals for, five against, no points. Do we extend the get out of Dodge card to Wolves, if we play well but get beat?

We are just hovering above the Bottom 3 now and a defeat against Wolves and a Luton win will see us Bottom 3 for the New Year. Something is not working recently, I hope Dyche has his tactical hat on at the weekend seeing as Wolves just battered Brentford away.

Merry Christmas boys, let's hope it's a Happy New Year.

Danny O’Neill
28 Posted 28/12/2023 at 19:07:55
I've been saying for ages, Dave, that players will get injured with this delayed raising of the flag. I understand the theory of not going too early, but the delay sometimes is ludicrous.

Come on, Paul. The manager and team have done their job. The finger of blame for the current situation can't be pointed at them. With those 10 points, we'd be sat in 10th place. Hopefully the appeal will turn at least some of them around.

Don't punish the team and supporters from a footballing perspective when it should have been a financial one.

You don't win them all, but beat Wolves and progress into the next round of the FA Cup and it's a different picture.

Paul Kossoff
29 Posted 28/12/2023 at 19:24:05
Merry Christmas Danny, all, the best.🎅😈✝️
Danny O’Neill
30 Posted 28/12/2023 at 19:39:24
You too, Paul. Have a good one.
Rob Jones
31 Posted 28/12/2023 at 19:44:32
They probably didn't raise the flag earlier because of the furore about the ref's fuck-up with the advantage in the City-Spurs game a couple of weeks ago.

As for the "get out of dodge" card, I imagine that's due to the threadbare squad, the nature of those losses, and the fact that most people recognise just how big a loss Doucoure is to the team.

Mal van Schaick
32 Posted 28/12/2023 at 21:11:20
We made them look superior in the second half. We should have pushed the wide midfielders on and compressed the midfield, but we played deep at the back and invited them on to us.

I agree with others that the officials' decisions were dreadful.

Any justice will be in a 20 points deduction for Man City, but we know that will never happen with the corrupt Premier League.

Jerome Shields
33 Posted 29/12/2023 at 01:00:55
Naill #26,

Yes, he wasn't his calm self. But sometimes that is what you get with Pickford. Good goalkeeper otherwise. I also noticed Tarkowski swinging him roughly back to his goal line

Paul #27,

That would be the view of Howard Kendall. When he managed Man City and an interviewer talked of young side potential, he said they needed to win games.

When I critique Everton, it is pointing out the failings that result in losses. Everton should have been playing 5 yards higher up the pitch in that second half.

We have had three games now when a result was achievable and lost. Now Everton definitely need a result.

Brian Dagnall
34 Posted 29/12/2023 at 01:40:23
Personally, I thought the referee had a good game. You can't blame him if he follows the stupid rules none of us like very much. His job is to follow the rules.

The penalty gave City a big chance to score whereas they were most unlikely to score from the open play. In other words, what our team had to suffer was way out of proportion to any perceived offence. This is a general problem football faces in my view. Same in Rugby Union where penalties are dished out for obscure reasons and it's 3 points just given away by the Ref.

I'm afraid I am not so easy-going about Mr Pickford as some opinions expressed above. I am totally convinced he was at fault for the first goal. He shifted his position by a yard to the right and Foden spotted it, hit it beautifully and beat Pickford low left. He was beaten by Richarlison at Spurs in the same spot, low left.

The third goal was an accident waiting to happen. So many times he takes risks being 40 yards out of his goal, taking kicks or joining in playing out from the back. I suppose he does this with the manager's approval so maybe he should not be solely blamed for it eventually going pear-shaped.

So, for me, we were beaten by 2 goalkeeping errors and a dubious penalty.

Sean O’Hanlon
35 Posted 29/12/2023 at 09:44:19
Tony, #13. I totally agree with you regarding Pickford parrying shots.

It is gifting the opposition with an easy tap-in every time.
Every week, we see at least 3 or 4 goals conceded by Premier League keepers using this tactic. What happened to keepers taking the ball full-on in the chest/stomach? Don't give me that crap that the ball is different today, and is swerving, etc.

I predicted Pickford loses us 12 points minimum every season with his pantomime antics. Yes, he does sometimes make great saves – but that is his job! He would become a great keeper if he lost the attitude and ridiculous mistakes. He gifted a goal against Spurs and then 2 against City.
Let's hope his pantomime season finishes before the Wolves game.

Jerome Shields
36 Posted 29/12/2023 at 11:34:41
I agree with Tony regarding parrying the ball. You can even see Pickford hoping that he has not parried it into the path of an incoming forward.

I suppose the goalkeeper saves the ball and avoids mishandling it, getting the blame. Something that is better avoided in the English League. Remember Robinson and what happened to him. Is Alan Kelly still the goalkeeping coach?

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