Everton 2 Manchester City 1

You would have taken a narrow defeat before the game, wouldn’t you? Just as long as we were left with something to go for in the second leg.

And then we only go and beat City, and deservedly too, and you came away from the ground feeling a tinge of disappointment that we didn’t put the game completely out of sight and make the second leg the nearest thing to a formality that crazy Everton could.

Before we go any further, we need to point out that for the analysis of this match we are going to be using state-of-the-art technologies, so cutting edge that the complex tactical diagrams aren’t going to be displayed on your computer screen, but beamed straight into your brain. Ideal if like us you are absolutely shite at Photoshop.

First up, you need to imagine when they show the line-ups on Sky, with all the players’ heads in their positions on a little pitch. Got that? Great.

Ok, well the next bit – and this is very important that you understand this, otherwise you can’t be a part of the new world of tactical debate – is that you need to keep in mind that the object of the game is for all the players to stay in exactly those positions for the remainder of the game.

Take fig. 1 here – as you can see, Leighton Baines has put a cross in but it’s been cleared. He is now officially OUT OF POSITION and as the luminous yellow arrow indicates, City have a lot of space to attack down his ‘unguarded flank’.

A better example of Everton defending though, is shown here in Fig. 2. It’s just after kick off and as you can see, the blue arrows between the Everton players are all more or less equidistant. As any student of Monday Night Football will tell you, that is a great indicator of a GOOD SOLID SHAPE.

Fig. 3 and Fig 4. are interesting and focus in on more detail on John Stones. In the first, you can see that Sergio Aguero is facing him, with the ball at his feet. That’s because Stones need to position himself a couple of yards further forward in order to get TOUCH TIGHT on the Argentine striker.

Conversely, in the second picture, Aguero – can’t do the accent – is ahead of Stones, trying to latch onto a pass from midfield. In this instance, Stones should have positioned himself a couple of yards further back, to give himself a head start.

Now Fig. 5 is really interesting as it shows two arrows pointing from Mo Besic and Gareth Barry at Fabien Delph, who has the ball. This is clearly an example of Everton ‘pressing’. At this point, it’s customary to talk about how Pep Guardiola gives his players six seconds to win the ball back.

However, what no one ever seems to say is ‘Or what?’

This is not to be confused with the only other type of ‘pressing’ that exists, and that’s Jurgen Klopp’s infamous Gangampress, whereby the players all hunt the ball down while riding on imaginary ponies.

What you, the uninitiated do need to realise is that when looking to choose a method of winning the ball back, well, you know what they say: you get the press you deserve.

Fig. 6 shows someone pointing and laughing at some little box-out in their paper’s sports section written by yet another asthmatic virgin perpetuating this new football lexicography that is reducing the complexity and nuance of this wonderful game into some cross between chess and line-dancing so it can be packaged and sold to similar dullards.

Similarly, the downward pointing arrow in Fig. 7 demonstrates the best direction to take off a massive high horse.

Everton played well against a clearly talented but massively bone idle City side. They pass the ball well enough – and so they should given the cost of ludicrous cost of their team – but until the introduction of Jesus Navas they lacked any sort of real pace. It’s like they want to kill you slowly and gradually, like soil erosion or loneliness.

With Bolshy Bosnian Besic gleefully taking his opportunity alongside the absolute fucking maestro of the midfield, Gareth Barry, Everton grew into the game, as they did against Tottenham, and went in at half time a goal up when Ramiro Fumes Mori turned the ball home after Willie Caballero could only parry Barkley’s left-foot snapshot from the edge of the box.

The big 1920s-bellhop-looking get looked reet pleased with himself. And so he should.

In the second half, Lukaku failed to connect with a delicious low cross from Barkley, and the young midfielder himself should have done better after shouldering the hopeless Nicolas Otamendi off the ball, only to shoot straight at Caballero. And before you could use the word ‘rue’ in the only context that you ever do, them bleeders were level.

From our corner – refer back to Fig.1 – they cleared and Coleman failed to cut Aguero off at the waist, as he should have. The lesbian-haired striking star picked out Navas in hectares of space and Joel Robles, who made one great stop from over-priced minor royal Kevin de Bruyne in the first half, was left exposed and beaten easily.

That was on 76 minutes, but before you could say ‘Liverpool will beat these in the final, the twats’, Everton regained the lead. Barry’s brilliant deep cross was met by the head of Lukaku, who did what Lukaku does.

He hurt himself in the process though, and was replaced by Arouna Kone, leaving no subs, which became problematic when Coleman had to withdraw with a calf injury. However, to the Blues’ players’ credit, the 10 men simply kept hold of the ball for the majority of the remaining 10 minutes or so, and City did very little to win it back.

In all honesty, they probably feel that a one goal deficit is more than overturnable – there are plenty of real words that look worse than that one, so we’re keeping it – at the Etihad Stadium, as their home form is generally very good. However, it just so happens that we aren’t too shabby on our travels, and we will create chances on the break. The deciding factor might just be how ruthless we are at taking them on the night.

Or something completely different, who the fuck knows?

 

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9 thoughts on “Everton 2 Manchester City 1

  1. Brilliant and highly readable piece as always Mark, “asthmatic virgins” topping the lot while making a valid point about how football is covered “these days”. Like those bookmaker ads that feature 20-something bearded “lads” who drink craft beer, have middle-paid jobs, wear striped tops, overanalyse football and are supposedly representative of the entire football-watching demographic. Give me a break. Just watch it and feel the emotion.

    Anyway, we are going to need to score at least once at the Etihad, IMVHO, but, as you say, it can be done. Difficult but if, in August, we were offered a 2-1 lead going into the second leg of a league cup semi-final, we probably all would have taken it.

    As far as possibly meeting Liverpool in the final is concerned, well, that’s a whole other world of stress, but let’s see what happens first.

  2. The amount of time you managed to keep that Sky analysis pastiche going was glorious, a bit like tantric sex…but featuring less Sting and his fucking acoustic guitar. Similar gold stars for the ‘ponies’, use of ‘lesbian-haired’ as an adjective for Künt Aguero and crowbarring in ‘erosion or loneliness’ as a viable alternative to tiki-taka.

    How come we managed to defend with only ten players? Is that what we have been doing wrong all season? Whenever we get the lead from now on we should sacrifice someone, either literally or metaphorically depending on who we are talking about.

  3. Excellent stuff. I’ve been struggling manfully with the need to describe Fumes Mori as an extra from Little Rascals, a reference that precisely nobody would appreciate, but you’ve only gone and nailed it with : “The big 1920s-bellhop-looking get”

  4. You fucked up there you Nogsy melt.

    Lukaku got injured in the centre circle before he got up and made the run to meet Barry’s centre. That’s what finally did him in.

    You should’ve paid more attention to the diagrams technique.

    You biff you.

  5. I introduced tactical analysis to the English game’s lexicon in the mid 90’s, loads of clubs wanted my advice. Nick Barmby was always knocking me ma’s for advice on improving his game. I packed it all in when Rowan Racing opened up at Hood Manor shops, Fred needed someone to pin the papers on the wall in the morning. Sold the idea to Opta like, made a few quid.

  6. Fig.7 shows a blue arrow by that writer who dost protest too much sat in his chair with his new android tablet trying to google ‘How to put a picture with lines on onto a computer screen’ but only succeeding in somehow turning the microwave on. And then a yellow arrow by that bin with two halves of an android tablet in it.
    Words are boss though mate, leave the virgins to it with their fucking graphics apps and never even had upstairs outsidies with a girl and they are 27.

  7. If we score there we’ll surely go through. Course we will. Listen up: we’ve notched at least one goal in nine of our 12 visits to City’s new gaff. Decent math. In seven of those nine we’ve worn all blue. Pretty and decent math. So, percentage-wise and other-wise-wise, we’ll only stand a chance of progressing if we wear all blue (Campbell consolated one in May 2004 wearing amber, but more like burnt-yellow in truth, in Fat Kid’s final [5.1] match for us; then Cahill’s shirt-lifting scandal, come the following September, was in white – but since then it’s been all royal splendour from toffee top to hose). That’s the essential Everton science we’re dealing with, then: 1) all blue = massive chance of a goal; 2) any goal = us surely hammering the Hertz website pronto, a full 24hrs after Liverpool’s shoot-out fluke (kop end) against Stoke has been sorted. “We had a run on Caravelles and that yesterday mate. There’s only Shoguns left.”

    Anyway, in short, it’s basically all down to our wicker-basket men, Jimmy Thingy and Tony Fella, to sort our kits right and we’re all but at Wembers. Oh and whoever scores for us, I suppose. Fair enough, then, so that’s Lukaku too. But, hey, if all those three do their job…

    Try driving a Transit-and-Horses through all that water-tight theorising.

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