“You gotta know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run”
One of the offshoots of playing in the Europa League is that Saturday 3pm football is at a premium for as long as you remain in the competition, and as such, Sunday and Monday matches will become the norm. So it was, that the first instalment of a run of four tough games, including three on the road, found us at the City of Manchester Stadium, or the Emptyhad to yer da.
There was no Sandro again, and no starting place for club record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson, Ronald Koeman reverting to the 3-5-2/5-3-2 hybrid that was woefully ineffectual against Stoke in the first half. The home side started strongly and pressed hard, drawing a series of fouls that saw early bookings for Schneiderlin and Davies. City almost took the lead when an Aguero lob was cleared smartly off the line by Jagielka. Shortly after Silva struck the upright with Pickford well beaten.
After all that early domination, it was almost inevitable that Everton would then spawn a lead against the run of play and so it transpired. A smart, flowing counter attack found the flourishing Dominic Calvert-Lewin and as support flooded into the box, his low cross picked out Rooney who fired first time through the legs of the despairing City keeper with his 4 haircuts rolled into one and fucking abysmal neck tattoos. The big ming. Anyway, one nil the Toffees and Rooney’s second in as many league games this season.
The ten minutes before half time saw yet another example of the ineptitude of refereeing in English football and the sending off of Kyle Walker for two bookable offences inside three minutes. The first was soft although forgivable but the second, an accidental collision when jumping for a header between Walker’s shoulder, not elbow, and the chin of Calvert-Lewin. Bobby Madley flashed the cards and Walker, well, walked. Advantage Everton.
As it turned out, it wasn’t much of an advantage. The home side continued to control most of the ball, without ever really creating anything too dangerous. On the hour, Koeman decided to go all in, bringing off Davies and Williams for Klaassen and new boy Sigurdsson in an attempt to get as many “number tens” on the park at the same time as possible. After a couple of smart Pickford saves, City finally made their possession count. A mistake by Mason Holgate who up until then had been flawless, saw his clearing header drop right to substitute Sterling whose first time volley flew into the bottom corner. Little twat.
The final ten minutes of the second half mirrored those of the first. An impeccable sliding challenge from from Schneiderlin saw Aguero write on the floor like a white supremacist with a face full of pepper spray and Madley was quick on the scene, waving a second yellow that rules the Frenchman out of Chelsea away next week, which all in all is a bit of a shitter. Neither side really looked like nicking a winner and in truth, a point was a better result for us than them, despite playing against ten men for the second half. The biggest positive of the night was the performance of Calvert-Lewin, the youngster looking increasingly comfortable leading the line.
Chelsea away next then. Easy stuff.
“If you’re gonna play the game boy, you gotta learn to play it right”