Manchester City produced chances but failed to finish them over the course of Everton’s 2-0 home victory over The Citizens. Moyes’ side played a direct, physical style, pushing Manchester City off the ball and looking to fire forward to immediately spring pressure on City’s defense.
City continued to play three at the back with Barry supporting the defenders as an anchoring midfielder. Kolarov played in a more advanced midfielder position as opposed to his normal role at right back. Dzeko played centrally in attack with Tevez and Silva using their creativity to create chances.
Everton played a traditional looking 4-4-1-1. Fellaini played behind Anichebe, roving around the midfield and looking to keep pressure upon City’s defense by using his physicality to stifle clearances. Additionally, Fellaini provided an advanced option for long balls out of defense.
Typically, Everton try to avoid a protracted transitional phase and throw the ball out to wingers or hit a long ball toward an advanced, physical player. The effect is a quick shift in attacking pressure, and an opportunity to counter teams with a high defensive line.
Behind Fellaini, Osman and Gibson acted as destroyers and deep lying distributors. Together, they counted for 12 of Everton’s 26 total interceptions. Osman was also an effective tackler. He won 50% of his ground duels with the most attempts of any player (12).
Everton forced this tie to be a pressure cooker. They used unrelenting pressure and physical presence to make City skittish and hurried on the ball. This pressure clearly affected City’s finishing ability. While they produced a plethora of chances (16 in total, 5 of which were clear cut scoring chance) Manchester City failed to score a single goal. Their chances were quality, and most of their shots were in the penalty area, but they also looked hurried and stressed.
Manchester City’s 20 shots numbered almost double the amount Everton managed. Despite this, they conceded and looked rickety throughout the match.
Highly physical teams tend to erode focus and stamina from their opposition, forcing mistakes and making half chances more dangerous. This was the case with Everton. Osman’s goal, a fantastically struck curler, was the result of Everton pinning back City’s defense. Everton had 6 players in or around the attacking penalty area at the time of the goal. Javi Garcia, who should normally be closing down the area Osman was attacking, was caught too deep, allowing Coleman and Fellaini the chance to engineer a fairly clear shot at goal, albeit from range. Garcia’s proclivity for ball watching and getting caught in two minds has been endemic in Garcia’s game this season.
Interestingly, Garcia passed well in this game: 56 passes at a 90% completion rate, the best in this match for any player. Delving deeper into his passing, he was also the most accurate final third passer, with just one of his 25 attempted passes going astray in this area. For a player that can clearly pass well but struggles tactically in defense, maybe a more advanced role would be better suited to his abilities.
Everton accelerated the pace of the match to a point that Manchester City were unsettled. Compounded by the fact that Everton played a physically imposing game, City struggled to put away the chances that they created. The Toffees’ two goals were fortunate insofar as both were fantastic strikes, but these are the types of goals that happen when too much space is afforded to quality players. It was a pressure cooker of a match, and City were simply unable to cope with fervor that seemed to propel Everton’s players.