Playing to Win Pays Off (Manchester City vs Everton)

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One team (Everton) came to Eastlands hoping for a goalless draw. One team (Manchester City) didn’t play very well, but played to score and win, hoping to not let Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Fulham take them off the title challenge track. Two substitutes, Mario Balotelli (with some deflection help) and James Milner (with some genius David Silva passing) scored for City in their 2-0 win over Everton.

Everton came in looking very confident. Maybe the fact that they’ve beaten Manchester City the last four times these two teams have met. The aggressive midfield, the confident in the back. Everton are actually a pretty good football team when they try and actually play some. Problem is David Moyes doesn’t really want his chaps, who only need a decent striker (Tim Cahill is no striker) in my opinion to be much more than just a mid table team hoping for more, to do a whole lot other than defend and hope for some counter attack success.

Manchester City’s brilliant start was halted last Sunday against Fulham, and it seems than in the private Manchester Premier League, every point dropped can be crucial. Especially with United looking like they aren’t about to lose anytime soon. But teams are on to the City trick.

Be aggressive with David Silva, and the City speed and fluency suddenly stops. Jack Rodwell was mostly the marking man, but he wasn’t alone. Silva couldn’t find any space. Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero looked lost an ineffective. Dzeko? He needs someone to feed him with balls. He can’t create alone, usually.

Eventually it was shunned and former wonderkid Mario Balotelli, with typical egotism, that brought the goal. Balotelli, like a real striker should in the eyes of some, sees nothing but the goal. His shot, deflected off an Everton player, was the one that actually beat Howard and opened everything up. Moyes threw in his strikers, which just made life easier for City. James Milner came on for Aguero and made it a double bingo for Mancini’s subs, as David Silva gave Milner a brilliantly through ball to finish off the game, making it a late but deserved 2-0.

We warned City and Mancini about this. The entire offensive game revolves around David Silva. Take him out of the game, and all those millions of pounds on the pitch don’t know what to do. Samir Nasri has to be more involved in the build up, because the midfield creativity is with these two and these two alone. Aguero can create on his own from time to time, but there are bad days, like today for him.

As for Balotelli, you never know with him. His attitude on the pitch is terrible, but he keeps getting chances. I don’t know if it’s too late for him to change, but the talent, power and shooting ability are all there. If Mancini can actually tame this mega-problematic player, it might be crucial in the long run for the title race.