Last nights result strikes a blow in our ambition to finish fourth place, however it is far from over, Villa continue to drop points and Spurs have an incredibly hard run! The performance last night, didn't warrant a spot in the top 4, we simply didn't produce enough to deserve a win.
Mancini changed the winning side from the Fulham trip, dropping point man RSC and Vieira to the bench probably due to fitness and making a surprise move replacing left back Garrido with Zabaleta. Steven Ireland returned to the team after a prolonged absence in his favoured position behind the striker.
City started brightly dominated a large part of the 1st half. Ireland's passing was good, although he still lacked the energy and grit in the middle that won him the adoration of city fans last season. We had chances, but simply failed to capitalise on a good spell of possession. Our lack of finishing nearly cost us at Fulham and it certainly cost us last night! It's here, where i feel Spurs have an advantage, with Pavlyuchenko and Defoe , they have two players who would take advantage of the many chances we make in front of goal.
The game changed when Barry gave away a very contentious free kick outside the box. He appeared to win the ball fairly. Even if the free-kick was contentious, it still didn't excuse the defending. Cahill is brilliant in the air, yet was allowed to easily get his head to the ball. City finished the half in a disappointing manner, a lead Everton generally didn't deserve, but were allowed a chance on goal and took it!
City had to change shape with the withdrawal of Steven Ireland through injury, and we didn't look good. SWP came on the right, moving Johnson out left and Bellamy through the middle. It didn't work! Johnson was having some success on the right, being both footed he made life very difficult for Baines, but we didn't really utilise his ability on the left. RSC came on and gave us a focal point, but at that point, the midfield was simply non existent. Vieira's introduction came too late, we needed his ability to keep the ball and pass. I thought Barry was exceptionally poor.
City tried to pile on the pressure, with little result, good chances going amiss with poor finishing and no luck. It was inevitable that Everton would score a second on the break and that sealed city's fate, confirming City 1st loss at home since last Easter.
Once again we were undone by a side that came to disrupt and be overly physical. I thought Everton were pretty disgraceful in their conduct, using a tactic that is popular amongst lower level sides. Disruptive football, a lot of low grade fouls, time wasting, diving and arguing, this conduct highlighted by actions of their Manager who was more than happy to join in the time wasting charade. City lost momentum in the game because of this tactic, something that happened against Stoke as well. Everton are very similar to likes of Stoke and Blackburn, but with the ability to pay 15 million for one player. They were of course allowed to deploy this tactics with the aid of weak refereeing performance from Walton. His performance was deeply suspect, allowing Everton to get away with a great deal and not punishing players enough to limit them. City don't cope well with this pressure from these low-grade tactics and it's something other lower-level sides with be keen to implement when they face us.
An ultimately disappointing result and performance leaves a bitter taste after what appeared to be a turning point at Fulham. The Wigan performance will have to be of the highest calibre. Adebayor should be ready for a return, without much competition! To finish we an over used football cliché, 'it's a must win.'