Are we there yet? EVERTON 2 MAN CITY 3

Goodison Park’s version of the ‘SAS’ may well have determined the destiny of the Premier League trophy a week today.

For months now the media have been hailing Anfield’s sensational strike force of Suarez and Sturridge as the specialist service that would land Liverpool the title.

Together - City did the job at Goodison. Courtesy @MCFC

Together – City did the job at Goodison. Courtesy @MCFC

The blue half of Merseyside, desperate to deny the red side its first ever Premier League crown, instead opted for a combination of the surreal and subdued in a strange spectacle, with the home crowd almost willing Manchester City to prevail over their Everton favourites.

So often a graveyard for City, Goodison was still far from a scene of tranquillity as the muted benevolence adopted by the normally vociferous fans did not extend to Roberto Martinez’s team.

With 5th place assured and 4th place out of reach, Everton were going nowhere fast…but Ross Barkley had clearly missed the memo.

Vocal MP - Manuel needed to be heard at a strangely muted Everton. Courtesy @MCFC

Vocal MP – Manuel needed to be heard at a strangely muted Everton. Courtesy @MCFC

The prodigious England attacking midfielder shook the game from its early lethargy with a ‘worldy’ – a beautifully crafted, curving shot from 35 yards out.

Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance. It was a goal of the month contender and was rapturously received, before the Toffee support, ever mindful of the bigger picture, reflected on the benefits to the folk across Stanley Park.

What the Flip? - Sky pundit & Liverpool fan Graeme Souness is perplexed by Everton fan Iain Evans' one-off t-shirt!

What the Flip? – Sky pundit & Liverpool fan Graeme Souness is perplexed by Everton fan Iain Evans’ t-shirt!

Having come out at Crystal Palace all fire and brimstone, knowing that their fate was once again in their own hands, City were infuriatingly pedestrian.

Sergical incursion - Aguero equalises. Courtesy @MCFC

Sergical incursion – Aguero equalises. Courtesy @MCFC

Sergio Aguero came to the rescue in more ways than one, with a sizzling low drive, beating Tim Howard at his near post. In doing so the injury-plagued Argentine, damaged his groin and was substituted five minutes later.

It looked a bitter blow to City’s hopes. In reality it enabled Manuel Pellegrini to address a tactical imbalance. Instead of replacing Aguero, like-for-like with Jovetic, the wily Chilean sent Fernandinho on to counter Everton’s midfield superiority.

Perversely City, shorn of their world class talismanic hero, started to function better as a whole – The Engineer had successfully tinkered with his machine.

Deja vu - Sergio injury jinx struck again. Courtesy @MCFC

Deja vu – Sergio injury jinx struck again. Courtesy @MCFC

Proof positive came when the enigmatic Edin Dzeko gave City the lead in the run up to half-time.

The Bosnian planted a precise header beyond Tim Howard for his 13th league goal of the campaign.

Clearly trusted by Pellegrini – more so than Roberto Mancini, who splashed £27m of Sheikh Mansour’s pocket change on the Wolfsburg striker – Dzeko continues to  divide opinion among City supporters.

His goals-to-minutes ratio in the Premier League bears favourable comparison with the best at 136 minutes per goal – comparable with Daniel Sturridge, better than Luis Suarez, but not as good as the all-time leader, Sergio Aguero.

Edin home - Dzeko heads City's equaliser. Courtesy @MCFC

Edin home – Dzeko heads City’s equaliser. Courtesy @MCFC

He’s hit 24 goals in 46 games (12 as substitute) this campaign, and 64 in 155 full and sub appearances for City. His goals are often vital strikes, not just the icing on the cake in a five or six-goal romp.

And yet he still manages to incur the ire of so many fans. There’s a perception that he often lacks the appropriate work ethic and is too profligate when chances come his way.

The two-goal hero yesterday, Dzeko was curiously booked by referee Lee Probert after lying prone for several minutes. It was a bizarre, farcical episode and one where Edin didn’t emerge in the most favourable of lights.

It may be that his true worth will only be recognised when he no longer plays for City, albeit he was flavour of the month, when he steered home a Samir Nasri cross to put his team 3-1 up on 48 minutes.

ED-ging it - Dzeko celebrates. Courtesy @MCFC

ED-ging it – Dzeko celebrates. Courtesy @MCFC

The two goal buffer was established moments after Barkley had burst forth with a Yaya-esque 70-yard run, before slipping the ball to Naismith who looked nailed on to equalise.

Joe Hart produced a world class finger tip save, diverting the Scottish forward’s ground shot inches past the post.

It was Hart who preserved City’s advantage when, at 3-2, he pushed a Deulofeu effort the right side of his near post. Lukaku’s free header had eluded Hart in the 65th minute and signalled a mass Mancunian nail-biting exercise.

Doubtless City are going to spend, and spend big in the summer on improving key areas, but with Hart now back to his best, Pellegrini need not worry about who should keep goal.

City in his heart - Joe is City & England's Number One...and should stay that way. Courtesy @MCFC

City in his heart – Joe is City & England’s Number One…and should stay that way. Courtesy @MCFC

By all means intensify the competition for the position – go and buy a very competent English number two to help out with ‘homegrown’ needs – but forget big budget acquisitions such as Iker Casillas or a now stricken Victor Valdes.

Hart is top drawer, English and the best is still yet to come. He won’t however, be picking up his fourth consecutive Golden Glove Award for the highest number of clean sheets this season.

It reflects Pellegrini’s emphasis on attacking football, with City having to sacrifice the title as the best defence in the league.

Fighter - Zaba embodies City's spirited approach. Courtesy @MCFC

Fighter – Zaba embodies City’s spirited approach. Courtesy @MCFC

Conceding at the rate of a goal-a-game (37 to date) City have made scoring goals the priority.

Dzeko’s second was City’s 150th in all competition’s this season and the 96th in the PL – level with Liverpool.

The Sky Blues have smashed the previous season-long scoring record of 143 held, by Sir Matt Busby’s Babes back in the 1950s.

With Aston Villa and West Ham still to visit the Etihad, City could equal or even surpass another record, that of  Chelsea’s 103 goal PL haul in 2009/10.

Punching home the advantage - Dzeko's double has set up a City League & Cup Double. Courtesy @MCFC

Punching home the advantage – Dzeko’s double has set up a City League & Cup Double. Courtesy @MCFC

But points make prizes and City need to focus firmly on boosting their total to 86. If it comes down to goal difference their +59 advantage is nine better than Liverpool’s and 16 in excess of Chelsea’s.

As 2012 champions, City had a GD of +64 and 89 points.

They edged closer to regaining their crown when, after nearly eight minutes of torturous added time, City emerged with only their second away win at Everton in 16 attempts.

David Silva’s introduction in the 74th minute – after the enforced withdrawals of Toure and Nasri – was influential. His ability to pick a pass and retain the ball helped quell Everton momentum when City were fraying around the edges.

Hugs but no lovebites! - Demichelis and Hart celebrate the win. Courtesy @MCFC

Hugs but no lovebites! – Demichelis and Hart celebrate the win. Courtesy @MCFC

The relief among the City team, the subs bench, management and stressed out supporters, was palpable – the on-field hugs and yelps of triumph were in abundance.

City are now facing the equivalent of a duo of QPR, May 13th 2012 matches to close out a most unpredictable season.

Ever cautious and pragmatic, Pellegrini doesn’t take it for granted that the title is heading back to the Etihad.

Will he be back? - Can Sergio overcome his latest setback to help City win the Premier League? Courtesy @MCFC

Will he be back? – Can Sergio overcome his latest setback to help City win the Premier League? Courtesy @MCFC

It’s imperative the players are in synch, any lapses or cock-ups in concentration from hereon would be criminal.

The sniping has already begun from the football columnists and putrid pundits as they seem resigned to a City triumph.

For years Manchester United and Chelsea were able to grind out wins in a less than stylish fashion – apparently it was the measure of true champions.

As City hit top spot for only the fifth time this season, with goal scoring records aplenty, they are labelled as ‘unbecoming’ having not played ‘magnificent free flowing football’ since the turn of the year.

Up where we belong - City have hit the front with just two games to go.

Up where we belong – City have hit the front with just two games to go.

It’s pathetic and reeks of hypocrisy from so many dark quarters of the football fraternity.

Chelsea’s failure to cope with the Canaries effectively means it’s either City or Liverpool to rule England. If the Scousers were to lose at the Palace on Monday evening, City could wrap matters up as early as Wednesday night.

Oh what a joy if the last day of the season was to be a party, devoid of any cliff hangers and cardiac arrests…but lest we forget WE ARE CITY!

Unity - Sergio, Pablo and Samir celebrate at the final whistle. Courtesy @MCFC

Unity – Sergio, Pablo and Samir celebrate at the final whistle. Courtesy @MCFC

The best form of revenge is huge success and Manuel Pellegrini and City are on the cusp of delivering it at the double – two more wins (possibly one) and a twin trophy haul will be their reward.

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@ReadButNeverRed

@djwskyblu

 

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34 Comments

  1. May 4, 2014  7:08 pm by Shite Fart Drain Reply

    Really good read that. I was a Spud fan until half way thru their joke of a season....I just couldnt take any more of watching their dire shite I took up enjoying the grit and determinati0on and winners mentality that is Man City! Long may it continue...Spuds wont be winning fark all for the next 5 years so lets hope City knock a few records off the man ure mob. And the scousers!. #:)

    • May 4, 2014  7:33 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for reading and the positive feedback.

  2. May 4, 2014  7:19 pm by Andy Devereux Reply

    Great read David, almost unbearable that last 20 mins yesterday but we got there and now it is so close, love Liverpool to drop points tomorrow just to make things a bit easier. Not bothered though we do our job and all will be well, bring it on.

    • May 4, 2014  7:35 pm by David Walker Reply

      I couldn't believe the lethargy but hell, we beat Everton at Everton and moved a step closer to becoming the Champions of England - what the hell have I/WE to complain about?

  3. May 4, 2014  7:24 pm by Susan richardson Reply

    It wouldn't be City if we didn't have the heart attack games! I'm with Nasri please don't leave it to the dying second. Dzeko's an enigma he looks a right sulky lazy b_______d and then scores a blinder BUT the other players love him so he will do for me. Just wished we could have seen more of Negredo and Aguero together to see what might have been. Trying not to count the chickens.

    • May 4, 2014  7:45 pm by David Walker Reply

      We can and WILL do it & then strengthen in the summer and start to be a dominant force in England AND Europe.

  4. May 4, 2014  7:30 pm by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    Brilliant read Dave, wow what a nerve shredder awful to watch but 3pts will do me. I so hope we dont let drop now" would love it just love it" (sound's familer that) to shut the I love Liverpool & Saint Brendan media up. Two more wins & its all over.#DareToDream #TrustOurMP

    • May 4, 2014  7:46 pm by David Walker Reply

      2 wins, maybe even one will do us, who knows? FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS!!!

  5. May 4, 2014  8:01 pm by tony glynn Reply

    yep agreed we are city..it wont come easy......BUT will it though,ive got a weird feeling that pool are gonna get beat by pulis non footy tomorrow..its been with me since last night and after seeing chelski huff n puff today, well something strange could be happening at selhurst....and then being us we all know what happens next,city lose to villa !! (but then finally do the hammers on sunday).....phew!!!!!

  6. May 4, 2014  8:29 pm by guy Burke Reply

    Anyone else think edins 5 minutes injury break was a superb piece of gamesmanship? Gave everyone a breath and reduce the heat of the game to a gentle simmer ! Superb result and the pressure is all on Liverpool for tomorrow.

    • May 4, 2014  9:08 pm by David Walker Reply

      You mean Edin 'Oscar' Dzeko?

  7. May 4, 2014  9:05 pm by John Evans TT Reply

    Thank you David for putting in the effort to produce such excellent reports on this and all our other matches. I particularly like the photographs. It may be you can do it like shelling peas, but I doubt that. Seems to me a lot of research and hard work is involved.


    Yesterday's deadly atmosphere probably affected us more than Everton. That was until Barkley (a young ‘Gazza’?) woke us up with a cracker.


    Kicking off with two strikers left us light in the engine room. Aguero’s injury forced MP’s hand (thank goodness). Bringing on Fernandinho gave us parity (or better) in midfield.


    After scoring twice the enigma that is Dzeko (having just lost possession), embarrassed us by lying lifeless on the pitch for an age. Rightly he was carded for play acting; wrongly (IMO) he wasn’t initially allowed medical attention. Fortunately, after a few minutes Edin ‘rose from the dead’ like Lazarus.


    City did a job yesterday and now Déjà vu 2012. Don’t know if I can stand that all over again. Come on you Eagles!


    PS. Shame about Maureen and the little horse!

    • May 4, 2014  9:10 pm by David Walker Reply

      THANKYOU!

      As for The Little Horse by J Mourinho - what a load of pony & trap!

  8. May 4, 2014  9:24 pm by Blue inc Reply

    Great read as always Dave!!!
    Dzeko continues to divide opinion among City supporters. Yeah that would be the blind and deluded Dave, not the football purists like me and thee, I've always loved Dzeko, his goal to level things against QPR will always be remembered by me, "Legend"
    I also hope we rap it up on Wednesday, don't think I could stomach another Aguerooooooo Moment my nails have never forgiven me.
    Don't think I will Cry this time if we win it though.

    • May 4, 2014  10:34 pm by David Walker Reply

      With a nice big sky blue and white ribbon - hope for the best but plan for the worst - NO COMPLACENCY! If this gets away from us there'll be hell to pay.

  9. May 4, 2014  10:01 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    That must have been the longest 7 minutes of 6 minutes injury time since the Mickey Owen goal at the swamp

    Fortunately the outcome was different this time! 2 more games...

    • May 4, 2014  10:07 pm by David Walker Reply

      Exactly my thoughts on same topic

  10. May 4, 2014  10:21 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    Tremendous win. The Arsenal bogey laid last season, Everton this, with a double over them to boot.
    Just Sunderland to now sort out next season!
    You're right, though....focus on the next game only. If Liverpool beat Palace, we'll have to respond in kind, I just hope we're not as flat as we were against Sunderland, following that other game on Merseyside.
    What a nice bonus it would be if Liverpool follow Chelsea's effort today.....or do worse.

    • May 4, 2014  10:31 pm by David Walker Reply

      If - IF - Brenda comes a cropper big time at the Palace and our trusted MP does the business on Wednesday night, we can order extra jelly and ice cream for Sunday tea!

  11. May 4, 2014  11:58 pm by Blue inc Reply

    I'm calling first on the Bouncy castle Dave.

    • May 5, 2014  4:10 am by David Walker Reply

      Well you'd better go easy on the jelly & ice cream in that case! Don't go complaining you feel queasy after a celebratory Tigger impersonation...BOUNCY BOUNCY BOUNCY!!! ;-) #MCFCPLCHAMPIONS2014

      • May 6, 2014  5:20 pm by Blue inc Reply

        http://www.smile-day.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Smiley-Party.jpg

  12. May 5, 2014  6:44 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    Great read as always, David.

    The last 20 minutes against Everton were almost unbearable. However, there was not a typical City moment. have this team finally laid that to rest, or is there another twist still left in this title race? I hope not.

    By the way, even if Palace win tonight and we win on Wednesday, we still can't celebrate. We would still need a point against the hammers on Sunday to be mathematically 100% certain of the title. Remember, it ain't over till the fat lady sings (although I think I can hear her clearing her throat).

    • May 5, 2014  7:01 am by David Walker Reply

      If Pool lose tonight (don't think they will) and we win on Wednesday night, we would, by definition, have at least an 11-goal advantage. Now I know Newcastle are bad, but are they that bad to lose 11-0 at Anfield on the last day? Come to think of it, with Pardew at the helm they could well do.

      Cheers George.

      • May 5, 2014  7:21 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

        Weird to actually want a Tony Pulis team to win, isn't it?

        • May 5, 2014  12:19 pm by John Evans TT Reply

          And kick a few lumps out whilst he's about it.

          How very unsporting of me!

          • May 7, 2014  12:40 pm by David Walker

            Why not? Skrtel dishes enough out and gets away with it.

  13. May 5, 2014  11:18 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    As always a a good and true reflection of the game David
    I said I would post on Monday - could have done this last night but the lure of a couple of pints Cheshire Brewhouse took precedent !
    What a great game and advert for the EPL
    It was always going to be a tough afternoon against a very good Everton team with Barkley and Baines outstanding.
    Browsed the MEN yesterday and scanned some of the attendant comments :- This player had a bad game, that player should have done this or that, why make that substitution etc etc etc . Some fair points but in a game like that to over analyse every minute and every incident to me spoils the overall enjoyment
    It was a game with some very good moments and yes some errors and great goals (where did that Barkley goal come from !) and what could be a title winning save from Joe Hart.
    Great goal Edin but oh dear that was a bit embarrasing. Was he hurt ? Why did it take so long for the staff to come on the pitch ? what I do know is - We had to endure the seemingly endless 6 mins sorry 7 mins or was it 8 mins of time added on.
    Overall it was a 'brill' day out with the Everton fans joining in the Stevie G falling on his ---- and giving the ball to Demba Ba song, and the 2 lovely ladies in the Burger Van who offered us a free Cheeseburger - Buy 1 get 1 Free .
    I knew then it was going to be our day
    A final word of praise for Jimmy Milner. Rarely included in reports but in the last 2 games his workrate justifies his inclusion in the stating line - up
    It is hard to see City failing now : We have the squad, the commitment comes with the job description and we seem to have the momentum (just beware the City v Sunderland and Chelsea v Norwich scenarios)
    C'mon you Blues

    • May 5, 2014  2:48 pm by David Walker Reply

      Nicely put RC - thanks for taking the time.

  14. May 6, 2014  4:30 am by Simon Wilson Reply

    Shades of Fergie time at the end. Professional performance though; hunker down and get it done. As my Dad (70 years young) has always said, "Edin has always got the crucial one in him". In this case two!

    • May 6, 2014  6:51 pm by David Walker Reply

      Your Dad knows his stuff!

  15. May 7, 2014  10:45 am by John Evans TT Reply

    David,

    I realise this is not the time place to go apeshit but......

    Joe McClean, Partner at Grant Thornton (former Rag auditors), did an outrageous puff for the Rag's on the BBC's 'Today' program this morning (7/5/14).

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b042jpjr (at 2hr 26 min)

    McClean puts the boot into City whilst claiming the Glazers are doing a good job for United!! You really have to hear it to believe it!

    • May 7, 2014  12:38 pm by David Walker Reply

      When is the football world going to get a grip? MCFC need to smash UEFA & FFP in the courts - blow this bureacratic, restrictive trade and restraint on employment crap to smithereens!

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