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?