Everton traveled to Etihad to try take advantage of a Manchester City that had lost twice in a week, but found little going their way as they stumbled to a comprehensive 3-1 defeat. Referee Jonathan Moss had a bit of a shocker too, flashing nine yellow cards to try and show some semblance of control when it had already gotten out of hand. The Blues did themselves no favors either, putting in a poor performance all around.
Gareth Barry's loan contract specified that he wouldn't line up against City, and his stabilizing presence in the middle of the field was sorely missed. James McCarthy and Leon Osman in midfield were never going to be enough to foil David Silva and Yaya Toure, and so it proved early on with goalie Tim Howard being called into action in the fifth minute pushing aside a Toure shot. Almost against the run of play, Phil Jagielka's deep ball wasn't dealt with by the City defence and Romelu Lukaku got in behind to beat beleaguered goalie Joe Hart for the opener. Sixteen minutes in and Everton were ahead - under David Moyes, Lukaku would have been taken off and John Heitinga would have come on to hold on for the win, but these are different times under Roberto Martinez and it showed just a minute later. The home side poured forward in a wave and some nifty short passing ensued, with Alvaro Negredo's shot bouncing in off Howard's leg.
The game might have been tied at that point, but the home side were definitely swimming with the tide. City's movement kept opening spaces for them, and with Silva in the lead the home side had opportunity after opportunity come their way. McCarthy was the Blues' best player in the middle as he played a stellar role in the middle keeping the game tied. Everton looked strangely unmotivated after the goal, with pass after pass going astray. Steven Naismith was involved in a lot and Kevin Mirallas looked a little better than he had been in a while but were negated by a strangely 'lost' display from Ross Barkley. The youngster dawdled on the ball too much, and seemed to lose it too easily at times. The vision was simply not there for the Blues today - even Leighton Baines was largely anonymous.
As bad as Everton were today though, referee Moss trumped by a couple of lengths. He showed little comprehension of the rules of the game, or at least in their application towards a real life game. Inconsistent in his decision making, he will be pilloried by the away side's fans for long past this game. Everton relied on quick counter attacks to break out of defence, and almost always were stymied by cynical tackles from the home side to kill the move. Moss failed to lay down the law early on in the game and was forced to resort to handing out yellow cards.
Just before half time, Sergio Aguero finally unentangled his legs to take on Sylvain Distin and strike a sweet shot past Howard to send the home side in ahead at half time. Martinez's halftime speech failed to motivate the troops as City continued to dominate the ball in the second half too. The Blues didn't even muster a shot until the 72nd minute by which time the game was already out of reach due to another contentious decision by the ref. Pablo Zabaleta went over like a towering stack of dishes after Seamus Coleman played the body, and Moss pointed straight at the spot. Earlier in the game, Matija Nastasic had bundled Lukaku over in a similar position at which the ref had waved played on. You could just tell it wasn't going to be Everton's day, as Howard pushed Aguero's penalty against the post, and the ball promptly ricocheted off Howard again to roll in. 3-1, game, set and match.
Darron Gibson and Gerard Deulofeu had come on for Osman and Mirallas with about half an hour to play, but might have had a sum total of two effective touches between the two. Arouna Kone also came on late to replace an exhausted Lukaku, who had ploughed a lone furrow up top for most of the game. For the second straight game, the Blues were completely flat in the second half and Martinez will have to fix this issue promptly. The Toffees previously unbeaten run was the last to stand in the Premier League, and they gave it up in a limp display that disappointed many of the fans. Plenty of doubts face the team as they go into the international break.
Everton: Howard 6, Coleman 6.5, Jagielka 6, Distin 6.5, Baines 5.5, Osman 4.5 (Gibson 5), McCarthy 8, Mirallas 5.5 (Deulofeu 5), Naismith 6.5, Barkley 5, Lukaku 6.5 (Kone N/A)
Manchester City: Hart 6.5, Kompany 5 (Nastasic 6), Zabaleta 6.5, Lescott 5.5, Kolarov 6 (Clichy 7), Milner 7.5, Aguero 8 (Nasri 7), Silva 9, Fernandinho 6.5, Toure 8, Negredo 7.5