Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Everton 1-0 Man City analysis

Man City started in a rough 4-4-2/4-2-2-2 system while Everton lined up in a 4-4-1-1/ 4-5-1 system with Stracqualursi leading the line with Cahill supporting.

First half

Man City started the game well with good flexibility in their attack particularly between Dzeko, Aguero and Silva. The Spaniard was moving into central positions from the left hand side for much of the time in possession which allowed him to link up with the forwards and cause problems between the lines, especially with his low centre of gravity and excellent mobility against Fellaini. City were getting good depth and width in their attack and thanks to their quick ball movement were creating promising situations.

However it was Everton who created the first chance of the game from a corner. Fellaini made a run between defenders near the far post which distracted Clichy who lacked intensity as the ball made it's way to Stracqualursi who had his header cleared off the line where Hart had left space.

City were controlling possession even though Cahill was helping Stracqualursi in pressing City's centre backs. Everton's midfield on some occasions did not fully support these two in their pressing and as such Man City created spaces well with their holding midfielders dominating play and playing central passes to players between the lines. City were managing to manipulate Everton's back four at this point with the two forwards stretching the centre backs horizontally and City also looked to create numerical superiority in wide positions and then play tight passes to penetrate Everton's defence.

One promising strength from the away side was their interchanging and versatility and this helped not only in attack but also in defence. On a couple of occasions, Everton tried to move the ball out in central positions when City lost the ball on the attack and this allowed City, who had players fairly close to each other in possession, to press Everton and force them back. The home side on these occasions could have done with moving it quickly forward or towards the flanks.

City looked at their most dangerous though when they enticed Everton high up and found space between the lines. Their biggest chance of the first half, Nasri's strike which hit the crossbar, came because of this, with City moving the ball quickly and exploiting the area between midfield and defence.

Around half an hour in Everton started to get a better foothold in the game, pressing higher up on the midfielders and working hard to win the ball back. Stracqualursi was proving to be a difficult player for City to handle and was moving the centre backs out to create space behind when he challenged for the ball in the air. He was also moving to the far post where Everton often aim their crosses and this created a chance when he headed it down for Fellaini's run on the left.

After a five minute delay when one fan handcuffed himself to one of the posts in Joe Hart's goal, City ended the first half the strongest with Fellaini's lack of mobility being tested down the centre and City still controlling ball circulation.

Second half

A small tactical change for City in the second half. Milner, who had moved towards the left at the end of the first half, moved to a holding midfield position alongside Barry whilst Nasri moved to an inside right position. City were again controlling down the centre with Silva and Aguero combining on a couple of occasions between the lines; both Dzeko and Aguero were recieving passes into feet as they came off the centre back and Everton weren't stopping this. Their full backs were moving higher up to give better width in depth and give the option to the front four of combining in wider positions.

However Everton were working extremely hard off the ball and started to cause problems for City in their attacks with City now mainly creating through counter attacks. One notable thing was that Nasri and Silva were finding it hard to track back because they kept moving central in attack. This meant that it was often down to the holding midfielders to support the full backs when Everton attacked down the flanks.

A few minutes later, Everton got the goal that would turn out to be the winner, partly because of this.  Richards got caught down the centre in midfield and Everton moved it quickly to exploit the space left by the right back. Milner then had to cover for him while Barry was also tracking on that side. The cross came in from the left to Donovan at the far post who initially miscontrolled it but then  pulled it back to Gibson who had found space because Barry and Milner had had to fill in on the right.

Everton started to stand off City in their own half now with the intention of holding onto their lead, allowing the centre backs and holding players time on the ball in the early stages of possession. With Johnson on for Milner, his energy and 1v1 ability allowed him to take on Baines down that side but Everton were getting players behind the ball well and making it tight for City to penetrate the back four. With Clichy moved to right back when Kolarov came on, City couldn't go round Baines out wide because Clichy and Johnson both wanted to move onto their left foot and were instead playing passes inside to Dzeko and Silva

The away side were now more laboured on the ball particularly in deep areas of the pitch and allowing Everton to get organised quickly and make space tight. Dzeko, Aguero and Silva were taking it in turns to peel off the centre back and recieve the ball into feet and play 'pick up passes' to switch play to the left hand side where Kolarov was creating width. However crossing wasn't particularly successful and City were reluctant to take shots from 'pull backs', even though space was created well for these.
Everton kept space extremely tight at the back as City struggled to create openings in the penalty area and through being clever in possession and pushing up on the ball to force City back away from Everton's goal they managed to secure an impressive win.

City will be disappointed with their lack of chances in the second half with a lack of width a problem in the early stages of possession, which would have created more space to penetrate the back four and also a lack of tempo late on in the game. This result combined with Manchester United's win means they lead the Premiership only on goal difference now. Gibson's goal now means Everton have moved into the top half of the table.

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