Fantastic Everton shut out City
A performance of military organization and efficient use of the ball against league leaders Man City earns Everton three points.
In a performance reminiscent of the Moyes glory years a few seasons back, a superbly drilled Everton out-fought and out-thought Man City at Goodison Park in that less mean-spirited of Liverpool/ Manchester derbies.
Starting without five players who might expect a starting place-and having to move right-back Tony Hibbert to centre half- might have worried David Moyes before kick-off. It needn't have.
The Blues set out their two banks of four with a Prussian discipline, and held to the plan rigidly for the whole match, allowing City's multi-million pound midfield to look in vain for options which they already had covered. And when David Silva et al inevitably did cede the ball, Everton's wingers, Royston Drenthe and the fantastic Landon Donovan, injected pace and drive which brought the likes of Tim Cahill and Denis Stracqualursi into play.
Stracqualursi looked a different player today, visibly more confident off the back of his goal against Fulham on Friday. He wasn't afraid to get the ball at his feet and run at people, or bring team-mates into play. More than that, he put more pressure on the opposition's defence than Louis Saha had all season. He's unlucky then, that he'll almost certainly be dropped for new signing Nikica Jelavic. And Darron Gibson, who I slated on his debut, has grown in stature every game since, and aside from a few careless passes, is looking like a decent acquisition for Everton. It's not glamourous, but he always gave team-mates an option, and quietly kept possession ticking over. His goal was the harvest of a good build-up from Everton and some patient Lampard-esque loitering from Gibson himself.
Donovan was once again fantastic and showed seemingly inexhaustible reserves of energy, both in his customary attacking role, and supporting Phil Neville in defence. His commitment in running the ball from his own box to the other in an unsuccessful counter-attack, only to chase back into his own half to put in the redeeming tackle showed why he's already a fans' favourite and why he'll be so sorely missed when he returns to L.A. Inevitably, Everton had to soak up a lot of pressure towards the end, but the result never looked in doubt, with only Samir Nasri's first half scud missile of a shot rattling the bar to draw concern from the home bench.
It was a game which might remind Evertonians of the classic match in 2005 against that other Mancunian club, and showed all of the attributes which Moyes's great Everton sides have been built on: discipline; teamwork; and playing to individual strengths. Two good wins on the bounce, along with a fantastic transfer deadline day, will really raise hopes at Goodison for the rest of the season. And renewed confidence will certainly be in order, given thatfour of the next six games come against Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal.