No matter what result you wanted to see from today’s Everton match against Manchester City, I think we can all agree that the overall effort and tactical plan was a vast improvement on the capitulation against Wolves. The Blues more or less shackled the centurions in open play, but were again undone by their set piece defense when Aymeric Laporte scored off a free kick right on the stroke of halftime. The goal ended up being the winner, although Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus did combine in the 98th minute for a second while Everton were pressing for an equalizer.
Lucas Digne’s return from suspension was a welcome sight, and Tom Davies continued his good run of form in midfield. Idrissa Gueye came back from injury and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. Everton didn’t create much, but then again, creating is hard to do when you never have the ball bar a few counterattacks.
In truth, there’s very little shame in losing to Manchester City. The shame today was incurred by the continued lapses on set piece defending, a problem which remains ever present. It could be Marco Silva’s undoing, but at least for one match, the majority of the tactics he got spot on.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Portuguese manager carries some of these wacky lineup changes (no Richarlison, Lookman, Coleman, or Sigurdsson) with him into Saturday’s match against Watford. Everton don’t play again after Watford for seventeen days, meaning there’s very little need for any rest or rotation.
Nobody likes a loss. That’s understandable. But this was not the same kind of loss as last weekend’s against Wolves. Everton went toe to toe with the title holders and didn’t lose their dignity, and around these parts, we call that progress.