Published on January 14th, 2016 | by Daniel Cheeseman0
Manchester City 0-0 Everton | Daniel Cheeseman
If you’ve read my last few blogs you’ll be well aware of how much I’ve used the word “frustrating” this season, so (as you’ve seen by the title) for this one I thought I’d use a substitute word that should hopefully still get the job done!
Compared to a lot of games we’ve seen this season, I actually thought that the one against Everton on Wednesday night wasn’t too bad – it was just that both teams were lacking in the attacking department.
Two of the league’s best strikers, Sergio Aguero and Romelu Lukaku, were both unusually quiet for large proportions of the game and looked very isolated at times. For glimpses they looked dangerous, but it felt like both were in need of a support striker to help them break down the teams’ stubborn defences – and that’s why I was very surprised not to see Kelechi Iheanacho make an appearance at any point during the 90 minutes.
If I was in the Nigerian’s shoes I’d be thinking to myself “What do I have to do to prove I deserve more playing time in the first team?”, as whenever he’s played this season he’s looked energetic, quick and hungry to score lots of goals. Sure, he’s far from a finished product, but if he’s not being given time to play while he still has all this hunger and desire we might come to regret it and look back on his career thinking “What could have been”.
Of course, City’s first goalless draw at home since 2010 can’t just be blamed on one player not playing, it was another collectively frustra- I mean, *infuriating* performance in front of goal.
I thought it was one of Jesus Navas’ better games, but saying that he still failed to beat the first man and/or pick out a Sky Blue shirt too many times for my liking. Kevin de Bruyne and Yaya Toure performed below their potential as well, it’d have been nice to see them pushing further forward and having more shots on goal (as we know they’ve got it in them to score).
As for Raheem Sterling, I thought he was completely ineffective once again down the left hand side – and to be honest I was surprised he lasted past the hour mark. It’s true that the team as a whole is becoming far too predictable, but if there’s one player who epitomizes that it has to be him.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t think that Raheem’s best position is as a winger, when I’ve seen him play down the middle or as a second / lone striker he’s looked a lot more of a threat as he doesn’t just do his usual ‘cut in from the left’ which any defender can see coming from a mile away. When things needed changing in the latter stages of the game, I’d have either moved Sterling up to be alongside Aguero or taken him off altogether and brought on Iheanacho. I’m not quite sure which of those two solutions would have been most effective, but I’m positive that either would have made an improvement.
Saying that, the England international could and should have had a penalty in extra time, so you could argue he was technically involved in the winning goal (if the correct decision had been made).
Overall you’d have to say that this was another case of a game of two halves, and also a missed opportunity. The Toffees created a few good chances in the opening 45 minutes, threading the ball through to Lukaku effectively, but after the break it was a completely different story as City were comfortably on top.
A recurring problem this season has been that we haven’t been able to score goals while the momentum is with us, often resulting in the opposition scoring a winner on the counter attack. On Wednesday thankfully that didn’t happen, but it’s still worrying that we’ve played Everton twice in a month now and they’ve at least matched us on both occasions, and even bettering us in last week’s game at Goodison Park.
Although Roberto Martinez’s men can be a very tough nut to crack, if City are serious with their goals of winning trophies this season, they have to now start finding ways of beating these types of teams.
If we can’t beat average Premier League teams, then what chance would we have in the semi-finals of the Champions League?
The thing that frustrates (sorry, I had to use it) me the most at the moment is that it always seems as if Manuel Pellegrini is either implementing the wrong Plan B in matches, or there’s no Plan B at all. Yesterday was a case of him getting it wrong as the Chilean made the wrong changes, but for most of this season we’ve had no Plan B and that might prove to be the reason we don’t win the league this year.
Of course, when we look back on the season we’ll remember the draw at Aston Villa and the home defeat to West Ham as being two of the lowest points, but its easy to underestimate how important the ones like yesterday are too (especially considering we won this same fixture 1-0 last season).
In the end the result at the Etihad capped off what was an all round bad day. The traffic was horrendous (which caused me and many others to miss the opening 10 minutes of the game) and Leicester won away at Spurs – but I suppose that’s football and Manchester for you!
Still looking forward to the game against Palace at the weekend though! 😉