Newsletter #1870

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A short edition this evening ahead of our ‘dead-rubber’ against Dortmund on Tuesday evening. Dead, unless that is, the battle for the Europa League is one the club wants to fight for. Mixed opinion on that front it seems.

We go into derby week on the back of a battling point/wasted two points against those hardy perennials Everton. Our definitive bogey team. None of us know the true meaning of the result until the end of the season. For those heading to Dortmund, enjoy your trip – it will be nice that you can actually relax and just enjoy the spectacle!

Next Game: Borussia Dortmund, Westfalenstadion, 4 December 2012, 19.45

MATCHVIEW: MANCHESTER CITY 1 EVERTON 1

“Muck and nettles” was the phrase that Stuart Hall once used in 1985 in one of his legendary match reports to describe the performance of Billy McNeill’s City side, containing the likes of Paul Power, Nicky Reid and Mark Lillis, as they battled to a Maine Road 1-1 draw with then Champions Everton, who fielded the likes of Peter Reid, Trevor Steven and Neville Southall.

How times have changed since the dark days of the 80s when City were up against one of the finest teams of that era, and were more than happy to strive to eke out a point, even at Maine Road. Nowadays Everton come to the Etihad to fight and restrict us, and despite their unjustified protestations about City’s penalty in this game (if you’re going to keep pulling the shirt of the opposition’s big centre forward in the centre of the penalty area, right in the view of the referee, you give him no option but to award a penalty), they were more than happy to have taken a point away from Manchester.

Given our current position, we were naturally a little disappointed as City dropped two points after this keenly contested draw against an Everton who continue their tradition of being difficult opponents. Games with Everton are normally fiercely contested, and this one was no different. Indeed, Everton started the stronger, with their trademark high energy pressing game ensuring that they enjoyed a good proportion of possession. They showed a great deal of composure and passed the ball around neatly with Fellaini being a particularly strong presence in midfield. City were well organised in defence though, and except for Baines’ searching crosses, Everton had little pace or guile to challenge the back four that was superbly marshalled by Vincent Kompany, who had his Championship winning partner Joleon Lescott restored alongside him for this game, which was played on a cold winter’s day when the sky was as Blue as City’s smart shirts.

This particular City side don’t start quickly against pressing teams, but we eventually came into the game after twenty-two minutes. Tévez headed Silva’s cross wide, Silva forced a save from Howard, Dzeko’s goal-bound effort was blocked by a defender and Lescott headed a Silva cross wide. Just when it seemed like City were getting on top, Everton struck after 33 minutes. Baines played a deep, high, out-swinging cross, which Fellaini headed goal-wards at the far post. Hart made a good reaction save, but from the rebound, Fellaini, resisting a challenge from Zabaleta, bundled the ball over the line to put the Toffees in front.

City tried to hit back straight away. Nasri, who was having a good game on the left flank, crossed and Tévez forced Howard to push the ball round the post with his goal-bound shot. Very clever interplay between Nasri and Silva on the left resulted in a pass that Barry deftly chested into Dzeko’s path and his shot was saved at Howard’s near post.

For all of Everton’s obdurate defending, they could only hold out so long. Ten minutes after his side had taken the lead, Fellaini had a big tug of Dzeko’s shirt and the referee couldn’t fail to notice it and pointed to the spot. Tévez duly drove the penalty down the middle to equalise as Howard dived to his left.

Everton were dangerous on the counter, and Joe Hart had to make another good, low save from Fellaini after another good Baines cross. The Everton and England left back was getting far too much room out wide to get his crosses in.

HT: 1-1

City came out of the blocks quickly after half time, stroking the ball round and interchanging positions with real purpose. Silva and Nasri switched wings and they and Yaya Touré led the way as we probed for openings. Both Tévez and Dzeko had efforts blocked. On the hour Silva threaded a pass out to Zabaleta whose left wing cross was headed over by Tévez. Maicon had a fierce shot saved three minutes later. It was all City for the first twenty two minutes after the break before Everton managed to muster an attack.

Everton seemed more intent to dive and con the referee Lee Probert. All afternoon he fell for their theatrical diving, much to our annoyance.

Roberto brought on Agüero for Tévez, when we expected the toiling Dzeko to be the man who was replaced. A large minority booed ignorantly the decision. Oh dear, there is no need for that. It was clear to see Roberto’s logic as he needed Edin to counter Fellaini’s height at set pieces.

City tried hard to find openings but found Everton’s defence typically stubborn and very well drilled. Everton got nine men and sometimes ten behind the ball and there was very little space between their back four and midfield five. They did carry a threat on the break, though, and Kompany, Lescott and Zabaleta were vigilant in repelling their counter attacks.

Balotelli came on with nine minutes to go but couldn’t force an opening as the visitors seemed intent on disrupting the game with more theatrics. Everton like to talk about their School of Science. It was more like drama school. They are a good side but they let themselves down here and it would be interesting to know what the likes of Peter Reid or Graeme Sharp would have made of their successors’ play acting.

We could have succumbed to another late Everton mugging had Hart not made a sharp low save to push out Jelavic’s fierce, dipping free kick, but such a goal would have been more than the visitors deserved.

So we are three points behind the leaders but we can take positives from the defence’s performance.

Whilst City didn’t play badly, we were not at our best on this occasion, and a draw was a fair result. Everton were very difficult to break down, and we couldn’t find the cutting edge to break them down. Sometimes you’ve just got to accept that, and move on.

We have a big derby game next Sunday and hopefully our players will get plenty of rest before then, so that they are refreshed and ready to put the Rags to the sword.

One suspects we will have to show a little of that “muck and nettles” spirit and impose our superior quality over them.

Goals:
0-1 Fellaini 33
1-1 Tévez (pen) 43

Att: 47,386

Ratings:
Hart: Top drawer again. Two good saves played a crucial part in earning this point: 8
Maicon: Some good constructive work after the break but allowed too much room for Mirallas at times, and slowed down some attacks in the first half when we needed to keep up the momentum: 6
Kompany: A Captain’s performance. He is back to his best now and was a very dominant defender again, making some crucial blocks, tackles, headers and interceptions: 8 (Joint man of the match)
Lescott: Rock solid. Good to see him back: 7
Kolarov: Unfortunately injured early on; hope he makes a speedy recovery: n/a Silva: Some lovely build up play in this game, in the first half in particular. Seemed more effective starting from the right and cutting in than he was from the left in the second half, though he is at his most effective when given a freer central rôle: 7
Barry: Possibly gave Baines too much room to cross for Everton’s goal, but that does not define his contribution here. He does so many simple things right, which makes him such a good player: 8 (Joint man of the match)
Yaya: His physical presence in midfield is crucial in our ability to impose ourselves: 7
Nasri: Led the way with exquisite passing from his left hand midfield berth in the first half. Good to see him get straight back into form after illness: 7
Dzeko: Worked hard and his link up play was ok but didn’t look like scoring: 6
Tévez: Worked very hard as ever, and the crowd’s disappointment at his substitution showed how well he’d played: 7
Subs:
Zabaleta (for Kolarov 6): As ever he was as brave as a lion; it takes a very special footballer who can be very good in either full back position: 7
Agüero (for Tévez 68): No real chances were created for him and he struggled to free himself from Everton’s defensive web: 6
Balotelli (for Dzeko 81): too late to mark: n/a

Refwatch: L Probert: A terrible performance. All afternoon he was duped by Everton’s play acting, and he booked Lescott for a perfectly good challenge (which got the ball). He compounded this by not playing advantage as we tried to break away after an Everton foul. Instead, Probert stopped play just to issue a ticking off and City were penalised. It was strange how so many decisions went Everton’s way. Alex Ferguson would have been a very happy man: 1

Joint Best Opposing players:
Fellaini: Despite giving away the penalty, he was such a muscular, skilful presence for the visitors, and his goal capped a very good performance: 8
Baines: He had been doubtful for this match, but having made it, he put over two very good crosses, one of which led to Everton’s goal: 8

Acting Awards:
And the Golden Globe Best Actor Category goes to… Leon Osman for laying down as if in need of immediate emergency treatment, only to make a miraculous recovery and hotfoot it back up the field once a free kick had been awarded to Everton. His mother confirmed that little Lazarus, sorry, Leon, had a “comfortable” night.
Worst Actor Category: Jelavic, for performing his dying swan act even before his marker or the ball had reached him. Even Lee Probert wasn’t fooled by that one. Director Moyes must have been very disappointed.

City Achievements:
This was City’s 37th consecutive unbeaten home Premier League game without defeat (Everton were the last team to win here in the League) and 21st Premier League game without defeat. Here’s hoping for a thumping City win next Sunday to make it 38 and 22 unbeaten games respectively.

Come on City.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)tiscali.co.uk>

MATCHVIEW II: CITY 1 EVERTON 1

Another game with a lack of being able to score when teams pack their penalty area with defenders.

The penalty was a well taken one by Tévez that kept City as the only unbeaten side in the Premier League.

City did enough to win this game, but credit to Everton who could have won it to with their fast breaks.

We see some good football from City, but it is the same style, which other teams are watching. I just hope that City don’t slow down their game when they have the opportunity to have a fast break; they must move faster, and don’t hang on to the ball too long, giving the opposition time to recover.

I have always been an admirer of Roberto Mancini but I don’t know why hetook off Tévez, who was playing a better game than Dzeko, and Tévez lookedfar more dangerous.

The game in Europe versus Dortmund, it does not matter what the score is, we are out of Europe; give the other players that are in the 25 man roster a game.

Some key players have a little time to get over injuries, if they are not bad.

I have always been an admirer of Roberto Mancini but I don’t know why he took off Tévez, who was playing a better game than Dzeko, and Tévez looked far more dangerous.

Maybe City have one eye on the game versus United, but it should be the game at hand. The big game for City now is against United on December 9th; only look at this one, forget Europe!

I should warn Roberto to get the results; no manager’s job is completely safe whilst Pepe is lurking about!

In Mancini I trust!

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)aol.com>

ARTICLE: MANCINI

Not wishing to be critical in the middle of a 20+ game unbeaten run, but am I alone in thinking that Roberto is being far too clever for his own good?

There is certainly no need to change 4/5 players from game to game and I can’t believe the players are tired by December!

This constant changing of players is certainly not helping the team get into any rhythm. He also claimed the forwards are not in good form but being “rested” every time you score is certainly not going to get you into a scoring run!

Tévez scored 2 against Villa then doesn’t start for 3 matches. Balotelli scores against Wigan then is left out against Everton. Sometimes I get the impression that the team is picked with players rested for the next game before we have won the present one!

Also we seem to start every game with the sole intent of killing the crowd (even when we are at home), à la Liverpool away in Europe in the 70’s. If we play at a high tempo we would steamroller this League but the slow, patient build up is playing into our opponents’ hands in letting them get everyone behind the ball at all times.

Mike Cooke <mikecooke321(at)aol.com>

RESULTS AND TABLE

2 December 2012

Newcastle             3 - 1  Wigan Athletic

2 December 2012

Norwich City          2 - 1  Sunderland            26,228

1 December 2012

West Ham United       3 - 1  Chelsea               35,005
Arsenal               0 - 2  Swansea City          60,098
Fulham                0 - 3  Tottenham Hotspur     25,426
Liverpool             1 - 0  Southampton           44,525
Manchester City       1 - 1  Everton               47,386
Queens Park Rangers   1 - 1  Aston Villa           17,387
West Bromwich Albion  0 - 1  Stoke City            24,739
Reading               3 - 4  Manchester United     24,095

League table as at 2 December 2012

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  15  16  36
 2 Manchester City 15  17  33
 3 Chelsea         15   9  26
 4 Tottenham H.    15   5  26
-----------------------------
 5 West Brom A.    15   5  26
-----------------------------
 6 Everton         15   6  23
 7 Swansea City    15   6  23
 8 West Ham Utd    15   2  22
 9 Stoke City      15   2  22
10 Arsenal         15   8  21
11 Liverpool       15   1  19
12 Norwich City    15  -8  19
13 Fulham          15  -1  17
14 Newcastle Utd   15  -4  17
15 Aston Villa     14 -11  14
16 Wigan Athletic  15 -13  14
17 Sunderland      14  -5  13
-----------------------------
18 Southampton     15 -11  12
19 Reading         14  -8   9
20 QPR             15 -16   6

With thanks to Football 365

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[Valid3.2]Philip Alcock, editor@mcivta.city-fan.org

Newsletter #1870

2012/12/04

Editor:


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