City was looking to end its poor run of form in Premier League play today against Everton at Eastlands. The Toffees have been very effective away from Goodison Park this season.
From the opening whistle Everton seemed confidently in control. Mikel Arteta hit the crossbar on a free kick in the first ten minutes and luckily for City, Marouane Fellaini missed the rebound off the post. A few minutes later Leon Osman appeared to be pulled down by Michael Ball, the penalty shout from David Moyes and Everton waved off. But upon review, while Osman exaggerated the contact, no question
Soon thereafter on counter Robinho sprung Benjani, but the City striker made a mess of things. Towards the end of the first half Shaun Wright Phillips looked lively and began to put Everton on the defensive. Right before the half a good save by Joe Hart on Fellanini preserved his clean sheet and a 0-0 halftime scoreline.
In the first half Everton dictated the play. Even when City looked dangerous going forward the change in pace of the match was temporary. The second half took on very much the same feel of the first. David Moyes team looked in control of the match and insertion of Jo for the injured and ineffective Benjani made little difference.
Robinho was replaced by Darius Vassell late, and interestingly the perennially out of form Vassell gave City an attacking spark that the high priced Brazilian failed to provide. However, Everton led by Tim Cahill playing in an attacking role due to numerous injuries was giving the City backline fits.
After a near City goal on a classic Tim Howard gaffe (I’m American and thus am accustomed to seeing Howard make mistakes at the highest level in the most critical matches ) Everton created a corner in stoppage time and Tim Cahill scored a deserved winner. Everton race out of Eastlands with all three points.
No question exists that City will upgrade its talent pool and squad depth in the January transfer window. However, anyway you view it, five points out of a possible twenty four in the last eight matches is relegation form. For all the hype surrounding this City side, the club is closer to the relegation zone than a European qualifying place in the current table. This team while not built with the Abu Dhabi consortium’s money yet, is the most expensive squad City has assembled since the 2003-04 season. That squad much like the current side underwhelmed and found itself closer to relegation than a European spot. That squad like this one was participating in the UEFA Cup thanks to the previous seasons Fair Play Table.
Recent history being a guide, City is more successful when the squad has some degree of continuity. This season has thus far brought countless transfer rumors coupled with below average football for an ambitious Premier League side. At this point City must view the January window as an opportunity to stabilize the squad and achieve a safe mid table finish in order to build the squad and the brand next Summer for a big 2009-2010.
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