Everton’s four-match league winning streak came to an end over the weekend, but today they were looking to start a new run when Manchester City strolled into town after winning the FIFA Club World Cup last week.
The Sky Blues weren’t exactly setting the league alight with their results of late — they had just one Premier League victory from their five matches prior to leaving for the Club World Cup.
The big move for Dyche was the inclusion of Beto up front in place of Dominic Calvert Lewin. André Gomes STARTS for Everton for the first time in 587 days after his impressive display against Tottenham.
Some good news as Seamus Coleman was fit enough to be on the bench. Everton are still without key midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure because of a hamstring injury, while Idrissa Gueye picked up a knock against Spurs and was not ready for today. Ashley Young and Dele Alli continue to miss out as they continue their rehab programs.
Kevin De Bruyne was nearing the end of his hamstring nightmare, although thankfully, an appearance on Merseyside was a step too far. Jeremy Doku continued to be absent after having missed City’s last three Premier League games. Rodri avoided serious injury against Fluminense but a last minute decision saw him make the starting lineup. John Stones made a start against his former team.
The game kicked off and it was only seconds before Patterson whipped a ball into the box and Beto got on the end of it. Everton were pressing high up the pitch as they had done under Dyche. Manchester then started to get control of the ball with Everton working hard. Their first chance fell to Grealish who had his shot stopped by Pickford. Grealish had scored in his last three games so he needed watching.
Everton were already sitting deep which was concerning after just five minutes. City had their first corner and the wind was so strong the ball was moving. Everton finally got the ball under control and the pressure was relieved. Tarkowski had a problem clearing a ball and Phil Foden nipped in to take it away but his shot was well over the top.
Foden was on his bike again and Nunes put the ball goalward which was nicely stopped by Pickford and the followup shot from Alvarez was also stopped. It was just too easy to get in behind the Everton backline. Worrying signs.
Dwight McNeil lobbed the ball to Beto who did a nice job holding off Akanji which drew a foul. Everton were starting to apply some pressure and the Goodison faithful were happy to cheer them on. The issue was finding the balance of attack and being aware of the very quick counter attack. It was Grealish again who was causing difficulties down the left and it was Pickford who was up to the task with another nice save.
Everton’s first corner created issues for City but they were able to scramble it away. It was another scamble at the back saw Garner put the ball into the box and McNeil put the ball into the six yard box into an onrushiing Jack Harrison who put the ball into the old onion bag. 1-0 to the good guys on thirty minutes! Goodison erupts.
City were immediately on the front foot but when Rodri was alone at the top of the box he skied the ball into the Upper Gwladys Street stand. Moments later, Everton forced another corner with Gomes whipping the ball into the box. It dropped to Harrison who was denied by an incredible save from Ederson. City were rocking....
Everton were bossing the game with the Blues growing in confidence and City turning over the ball. A long ball over the top saw Beto one on one with Stones who cleared the ball but was left in a heap on the floor. He picked himself up and was able to trot off. Nathan Patterson was then given the first yellow card for taking down Grealish.
Guardiola had seen enough and got Gvardiol prepared to come on to replace Stones. A precautionary substitution forced the change. First half stoppage time arrived with 3 minutes on the board. Everton were managing the time to get into the dressing room with the lead. City was pressing but they were not getting penetration. A late corner was worked around the box but the defending was excellent and the whistle was blown by referee John Brooks.
The second half saw Everton using the Beto outlet pass to great effect with the big Portuguese putting Akanji under pressure. The rain started to pelt down which was making City’s passing game more challenging. City worked the ball into the box but great defending from Tarkowski denied the chance. City started to control the ball and an incredible shot from Phil Foden left Pickford stunned as he saw the shot late. All square after 8 minutes.
City were on the front foot and another ball across the box without anyone getting a touch. Everton needed to absorb the pressure. The outlet to Beto was again effective to reduce pressure. The Evertonians were apoplectic when Onana was taken down by Akanji. It took awhile but Akanji was given a yellow card for the tackle. It was then Gomes who was in the referee’s book for a tackle on Grealish. Alvarez took the free kick and Pickford easily saved.
The referee then listened to the assistant referee after Amadou Onana was penalised for his block on the Alvarez shot. The handball was harsh and VAR agreed with the referee. Alvarez took the penalty and Pickford got his foot on it but could not keep it out.
Everton made two changes bringing on Calvert Lewin in place of Beto and Mickael Keane coming on for Gomes. City brought on Mateo Kovačić in place of Nunes. The City fans were in full voice and Everton had it all to do.
It was Calvert Lewin who was doing the running up front to relieve the City pressure. The high press was being used to effect but City were still able to wriggle free. Grealish was on the ground again, whinging for a foul but the referee wasn’t buying it. Calvert Lewin then almost had the ball in the net but his shot just went narrowly wide. Goodison was back onside with noise. The noise got even louder when Tarkowski made a crunching tackle on Alvarez.
It was all getting tetchy with Kyle Walker needing to be separated from Ian Woan on the Everton bench. Harrison was then taken off for Arnaut Danjuma who had a good appearance against Tottenham. It was Grealish who was given a yellow card for a retaliatory tackle on McNeil.
The final ten minutes arrived with Everton showing some real character. Danjuma almost was through on goal but Akanji was strong. Another moment of quality from Bernardo Silva who lobbed the ball over the keeper after Pickford’s clearance was blocked. Phil Foden was then running the show. He had one shot rattle the post and Pickford clawing away another chance.
Six minutes of added time quickly passed with Everton unable to penetrate the more solid backline of City. Everton were put out of their misery with many fans already on the way down Goodison Road in the rain.
Everton Man of the Match: Jack Harrison showed quality and determination throughout the game and it was great to see him get on the scoresheet. His first half performance was excellent and his influence in the second half was taken away by the City pressure and control.
Today, one of the best teams in the world.....and based on their recent trophy, the best team, was on full display today. If Everton go into this match and compete then it was a good day. A team of this quality cannot be written off and the Everton goal was really the starting point for City’s recovery. No one would have put money on Everton for this one and the result proved that to be true. Wolves up next and an away match to give the team an opportunity to get some points, which are needed after the recent results.
Referees get paid a lot of money and decisions change games. The City penalty was bogus at best and if the ball had not hit the arm it would have hit Onana in the face. That means that the hand was in the shape of the body which is not a penalty. Would the game have ended in a win or loss, who knows, but it did influence the outcome. How could VAR not overturn that call and why did the assistant referee make the call in the first place? Everton have had zero penalties this year, the opposition have had several!
After the team news came out, the inclusion of Beto at the expense of Dominic Calvert Lewin confirmed two things; Dyche was not willing to go back to his favourite 4-4-2 and he had seen enough of Beto in his substitute appearances to give him the chance that many had requested. The 6’4” Portuguese forward gets his massive frame around the pitch and often looks like he is wildly out of control. Today, with a chance to impress from the start, it was obvious that there is more to the player that we should see more frequently. His hold up play improved as the match progressed and his work rate was being influenced by the Dyche ethic.
The start of the game has been key for Everton over the past year under Dyche. Everton were unbeaten in each of the 17 league games under Dyche in which they scored first. However, they hadn’t won any of the 18 matches in when they conceded first. Today, the team absorbed the initial pressure and then started to be more aggressive with the press which caused issues for City. The pressure paid off and the goal by Harrison raised the roof and the spirits. Unfortunately, this loss was the first time they had scored first and lost.