Frank Lampard’s Everton side put out a fearless and inspired performance at the home of the Champions, Manchester City, on New Year’s Eve, bouncing back after a nightmare defeat at Goodison to fellow relegation candidates Wolves. Most expected the Toffees to be slaughtered at the Etihad Stadium, but Everton managed to leave East Manchester with an unexpected point after a resolute defensive performance and a Demarai Gray wonder-goal. The draw marked the first time Everton had avoided defeat at the Etihad Stadium since August 2017 when Wayne Rooney scored his second goal after returning to the club.
It’s clear that there was an element of fortune in Everton’s ability to gain a point from what is the most difficult fixture in the Premier League on paper. Demarai Gray’s incredible strike was the Toffees’ only shot on target of the match, and their only other effort in the 100+ minutes of football played was Amadou Onana’s strike from miles out which was deflected out for a corner. That opportunity, however, was the only one that Gray needed to score a memorable goal in front of the traveling Everton fans. That being said, Everton held the Citizens to just 3 shots on target; an extremely impressive feat. As they say, fortune favors the brave, and this performance was just that.
Man City (2.07) 1-1 (0.08) Everton— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) December 31, 2022
Trend Turned Over
Everton have been very susceptible on the counter attack this season, as despite Lampard’s desire to play possession based football, his side constantly give the ball away in in-opportune areas of the pitch and leave themselves exposed at the back. On Saturday, however, it was the Toffees’ turn to catch a team out on the counter-attack after Rodri’s uncharacteristically sloppy giveaway allowed Idrissa Gueye to spring Demarai Gray down the left wing, and the rest is history. It was the first time all season that Lampard’s men scored a goal on the break.
Demarai Gray's goal against Manchester City was the first goal Everton have scored from a counter attack in the Premier League this season. #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) December 31, 2022
Much has been made about James Tarkowski’s utterly ridiculous defensive numbers so far this season. The former Burnley man’s 38 blocked shots leads the Premier League by a wide margin, and he also ranks fourth in both clearances and aerial duels won. Although these stats are very impressive, they are also indicative of Everton’s structural issues and vast amount of shots and touches in the defensive third allowed. However, conceding possession and chances is an inevitability against Manchester City, and so the 30-year-old’s fantastic display against the Champions was more than necessary for Everton to steal a point at the Etihad.
James Tarkowski made 13 clearances against Man City, the most by an Everton player in a Premier League game this season.— Squawka (@Squawka) December 31, 2022
A ball magnet in his own box. pic.twitter.com/u5pbgavznp
Amadou’s Approaching Absence
Despite what many predicted, Everton’s greatest loss today did not come in the form of the result, but rather in who they will be missing for a crucial clash against Brighton on Tuesday. Belgian Starlet Amadou Onana, who was fantastic against City, will be unavailable when the Seagulls come to Goodison Park on January 3rd due to yellow card accumulation, leaving a large hole in Lampard’s first-choice XI. Abdoulaye Doucoure and Tom Davies will both be vying to take the 21-year-old’s place in the side, but regardless of who Frank selects, it will represent a significant loss of quality in the midfield for Everton. Hopefully the Toffees can pull out a pivotal victory despite the absence of last summer’s key signing.