After the weekend off, tonight`s game saw Mancini`s men face one of their bogey sides in David Moyes` Everton team. Everton had only lost one of their last thirteen home games against City and even worse, City have never won against Everton in the Premier League after conceding the first goal. Mind you, City had kind of torn up the record books this season haven broken pretty much every record the club and the league have set.
Good news for City that Kompany was back to replace the nervous looking Savic and the team sheet read as follows: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Milner, Barry, Silva, Nasri, Aguero and Dzeko. The subs bench consisted of: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Savic, Kolarov, De Jong, Johnson and Razak.
The game kicked off in a charged atmosphere with City playing left to right and instantly launched a long ball toward Dzeko. Within a minute, City had earnt a free kick after Heitinga brought down Dzeko just over thirty yards out from goal. The ball was played out wide to Richards who interchanged neatly with Milner, who eventually strayed offside. Second foul of the game came in the third minute after a nasty challenge by Baines who went in two footed on Kompany.
First corner of the game came in the fourth minute after the ball came off Lescott. The ball was swung toward the far post and headed toward goal by Everton`s unpronounceable striker. The header was arrowing toward goal and had Hart beaten hands down only for Lescott to clear the ball off the line.
Within seconds City were attacking at the other end and had earnt a corner after Richards shot was pushed out by Howard. The corner went far post and was headed back in by Kompany only to be gathered by the Everton keeper.
On the stroke of eight minutes, Fellaini looked to have broken free of the City defence but great covering by Lescott saw the ball forced wide and the chance for Everton recede. A good tackle and pass by Richards saw Aguero break down the City right. The move was ended by a blatant push by Baines on Milner which was given as an Everton throw???? From the dodgy decision Everton broke up field and crossed in a neat ball which ended with a tame header from Cahill which Hart gathered easilty.
Next chance fell to City as Silva played an exquisite ball to Milner on the right wing. The City player crossed the ball perfectly for Dzeko and if not for a timely interception from Gibson, the towering Bosnian looked certain to shoot.
On the stroke of fifteen minutes, Drenthe threw himself to the floor theatrically after running past Kompany. The ref waved play on and surely should have booked the Everton player for simulation, but this was starting to look like a game where the home team would certainly bend the rules in an attempt to beat the better team.
Everton earnt another corner in the seventeenth minute after Kompany cleared the ball into touch under pressure from Baines. The near post ball was easily cleared by Dzeko who turned defender himself to dispossess Drenthe. Within seconds City were attacking at the other end and had a corner of their own after Dzeko`s shot came off a defender. The Silva cross was easily gathered by Howard.
Everton were awarded a free kick after Drenthe once more went down as if shot when Milner dispossessed him. This time the ref bought it, but such was the poor decision making from Drenthe he played the ball straight to Clichy who passed to Silva. The Spaniard played a sublime ball to Aguero who`s shot went just wide.
Drenthe then attempted to chop Richards in half after the City man had dispossessed him with a strong but fair challenge. The ref awarded a free kick, but no word for the player.
Baines put in a good tackle on Richards in the twenty eigth minute after Milner found him in the box. The throw City earnt from Baines` clearance was played long to Dzeko whose weak header was easily gathered by Howard.
The ref was once again reticent to award City a free kick in the twenty ninth minute after Milner was clipped from behind near the Everton penalty box. Whilst the City player kept his footing, he lost possession of the ball. City were quick to win it back and were soon attacking again, but the Manchester Blues were struggling to break down the ten men camped along the Everton penalty box.
Suddenly in the thirty first minute, after several tackles by each team, all of which could have been awarded with a free kick, the ref deemed a challenge by Barry, no worse than any of the others, to be worthy of a free kick, it was of course in range for an Everton free kick which is probably why he gave it. As the free kick was launched, the Everton striker deliberately barged into Hart and the ref missed it completely.
Clearly unhappy with the diving, kicking and underhand tactics, City were getting distraught and after a soft tackle not even worthy of a free kick, Kompany somehow found himself in the refs book. How Baines and Drenthe had escaped without even a telling off whilst the City Captain gets booked is beyond me and made me think that once again the ref was doing everything in his power to make sure City had a difficult time.
On the stroke of thirty six minutes and despite the attentions of the ref and the Everton kickers. City nearly broke the deadlock as Nasri found himself unmarked twenty five yards from goal. He struck the ball sweetly and with power, it beat the flailing arms of Howards and struck the inside of post and cross bar. How lucky were Everton going to be tonight.
Next talking point was a stamp by Fellaini on Nasri which rather obviously now went unpunished. In fact it was looking like the Everton players would need to produce Stanley knives to get their names in the refs book.
With five minutes of play to go, an Everton fan, clearly upset at the referee`s bias, decided to handcuff himself to Hart`s goal post?.says a lot really.
As the normal time ended, five minutes of stoppage time was announced. Everton had built up a head of steam and despite lacking any finesse, were playing in the City half, without it had to be added, looking dangerous.
With two minutes of stoppage time, another tackle from behind this time on Nasri, went unpunished by the referee again when City were in a dangerous position. There was a definite trend to the first half of the game. Everton attack, City tackle, Everton dive. Or City attack Everton foul and the ref waves play on. This was another poor showing by the referee and a typical thuggish performance from Moyes` clodhoppers.
The second half kicked off with no changes to either side and City were soon forcing Everton back into their own half and playing long balls that City easily dealt with.
City were on the attack again within two minutes of the half kicking firstly through Nasri and then Dzeko who`s neat header was stopped by Howard.
On the stroke of fourty nine minutes, Silva broke through the Everton midfield and was kicked from behind but managed to maintain his feet. He played the ball through to Aguero who returned the favour only for Silva to be ruled offside. Once again though, the ref failed to have a word with the Everton player about his poor and illegal tackle.
Fifty one minutes in and it was Aguero who this time broke with the ball. He played a cross to Dzeko which was behind the City centre forward. Nasri though was in position to take the ball and work it back into the box. Lescott was furthest forward but as he strayed to near Howard, the ref blew his whistle for a free kick, funny how he had failed to do that in the first half when the Everton striker barged into Hart.
City were moving the ball around with much more pace than in the opening forty five and Everton were struggling to keep up and in the fifty fourth minute Hibbert man handled Dzeko pulling on his arm. The ref unsurprisingly awarded the free kick to Everton. Despite this help the ref was clearly giving to Everton, City were in the ascendancy and it looked a matter of time before Howard would be picking the ball out of his net.
On the stroke of fifty seven minutes Everton were once again helped by the ref after Aguero was brought down in the Everton box by Fellaini. There was minimal contact with the ball and definite contact with the player first yet play was unsurprisingly waved on. Within seconds Lescott had been booked for a body check. Funny that.
With the help of the ref, Everton were in the lead through a deflected Gibson shot in the sixtieth minute. Thoroughly undeserved and wholly against the run of play but a goal is a goal and Moyes` clodhoppers were looking like taking all three points.
City actually won a free kick for a foul on Dzeko in the sixty second minute but the foul occurred in the centre circle so the ref probably didn`t feel to bad awarding one there.
City were not even getting the throw in`s as Kompany cleared a ball off Neville but saw the throw awarded to Everton. The officiating of City games was becoming something of a joke as decision after decision was given in favour of Everton and City fans as a whole were starting to get cheesed off.
Mancini soon made a number of changes as first Milner was replaced by Johnson and the Lescott was replaced by Kolarov.
The changes seemed to have an immediate impact as Nasri almost chipped Howard from a few yards out to the keepers left.
As the minutes wore on, the City players couldn`t even use their shoulders without the Everton players dropping like flies and the ref lapping up the opportunity to award a free kick.
A clear handball in the box on seventy four minutes, far more obvious than the one given against Richards last week, was this time ignored by the ref as it had been carried out by an Everton player in the Everton box and this would have meant awarding City a penalty something the ref would never do.
Seconds after this Drenthe should have been red carded for an above the ball tackle on Richards that could have cut the City player in half. The ref ignored this as well and this was now the worst refereeing performance I had seen this season and I had seen some awful ones.
In the seventy eighth minute thug of the week Drenthe was replaced by Baxter when he should have been off the pitch having seen red.
With ten minutes to go City were pounding on the Everton door but a mixture of fouls and handballs seemed to stop City in their tracks. A perfect example occurred on the stroke of eighty three minutes when Barry was brought down from behind by Baines in a sliding challenge after the ball had gone. After apologising to the prostrate Barry, Baines was allowed to play on by the ref who appeared to think that illegal challenges were ok as long as you apologised. Similar to not seeing a stamp that video shows you were looking straight at.
With four minutes of normal time left, Mancini replaced Barry with De Jong, hopefully to do something about Everton`s best player, the ref.
Four minutes of added time was announced as City looked to get a point out of the game. The players seemed utterly frustrated with the wall Everton put in front of them, with the referee and with themselves. City had not been able to put a good final ball in all night and when they had looked in a promising position, they were kicked, tackled from behind, pulled down or generally dealt with in a dirty fashion. The ref was happy to allow this play from Everton. Indeed two penalties not given, one for a foul and one for a clear hand ball. Two red cards not given, one for Drenthe for attempting to cut Richards in two and one for Baines for his tackle from behind and another pathetic yellow card given to Kompany. This was not to be City`s night and the undeserved win went to Everton. The man of the match for Everton however was the referee.
Joe Hart – 7
Could do nothing about the goal and wasn’t otherwise tested.
Micah Richards – 7
Got forward a few times but his final ball was left wanting. Could have been badly injured by a poor and dangerous tackle from Drenthe.
Vincent Kompany – 7
Booked for a nothing challenge and clearly on the watch list for referees.
Joleon Lescott – 6
One of his worst games for a while.
Gael Clichy – 6
Didn’t look effective going forward.
James Milner – 7
The effort was there as was the industry but the final ball was poor.
Gareth Barry – 5
His worst game in a City shirt for a while. Gave the ball away too much. At fault for the goal. Who turns their back on a shot when you are in your own box. Needs to be dropped for that.
David Silva – 7
Made some good passes and seemed to be at the centre of most things. Got kicked off the park.
Samir Nasri – 7.5
Had the best shot of the game and looked good. Got kicked off the park.
Sergio Aguero – 7
Went through a tough time tonight.
Edin Dzeko – 5
Two tame headers and some poor control. Not good enough.
Adam Johnson – 5
Did he come on as a Sub…couldn’t say I noticed.
Aleksander Kolarov – 6
Better at attacking than Clichy but much worse at defending.
Too late to mark.
Roberto Mancini – 6
His team has suffered in recent weeks and just aren’t creating the chances despite dominating possession. Something needs to change or he can give up on the League.
Well once again at least four or five key decisions went against City. Clearly there is a hidden agenda going on here. Two penalty claims, two possible red cards and some generally thuggish play was totally ignored by the ref and his pathetic officials. The FA wont answer questions about bias and I doubt Brian Marwood will get a straight answer to his letter sent to Mike Riley.