Get Well Soon Leighton Baines
Everton struggled mightily to get quality chances on goal during the run of play. They were often resigned to playing the ball out wide and pumping crosses into the box in hopes of finding Romelu Lukaku. However, when playing a center back combination that consists of Vincent Kompany and Equilium Mangala, those headers can be hard to come by. The Toffees best opportunities came in the form of free kicks at the edge of the box just before the end of the first half. The first free kick was poorly taken by Ross Barkley and the second, taken by Lukaku, missed by just a few inches. When opportunities like these present themselves, it makes one wonder how they would've gone had Leighton Baines been in the line-up. Baines' skill in taking set-pieces was sorely missed today and could've possibly changed the tide against a difficult opponent.
Tim Howard With a Moment He'll Want Back
Tim Howard's performances last season left a lot to be desired. After his back-up Joel Robles put in some solid starts it seemed the American's days as the starter were numbered. This season he has looked significantly more solid and has largely been able to make the saves that are expected of him. He was excellent for large stretches against Manchester City, making key saves against Sergio Aguero and Jesus Navas, but his positioning on Aleksandar Kolarov's goal left many scratching their heads. The Man City left back found himself in a position that should have been nearly impossible to score from, but Howard, expecting a cross, found himself poorly positioned to deal with the shot. This goal seemed to take the air out of Everton's sails and likely cost the Toffees a shot at some points.
Roberto Martinez's Questionable Subs
With Everton down 1-0 and in need of a spark off the bench, Roberto Martinez opted to go with Steven Naismith to replace Arouna Kone. Naismith is a wonderful player with a great work rate and a knack for scoring late in games however it seemed Everton needed creativity and pace more than anything. Everton's preferred game plan was not troubling the Man City defense and instead of bringing on a player with pace and creativity, like Kevin Mirallas or Gerard Deulofeu, Martinez made a conservative choice in Naismith. When Deulofeu was finally subbed on there was less than 10 minutes left in the game and left little time for the Spaniard to make much of a difference. Playing Cleverley and Kone on the wing has come more out of necessity than preference so far, but Everton have again lacked width and failed to bring on players that could provide that in a timely fashion.
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