Howard and Everton repel City's second-half tide to claim hard-earned draw

13/01/2016  150 Comments  [Jump to last]
Manchester City 0 - 0 Everton

John Stones was deployed at right back in Seamus Coleman's absence

Tim Howard answered his recent critics with a man-of-the-match display to help Everton to a goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium that could prove to be a psychological lift ahead of the League Cup second leg there in a fortnight's time.

The American was recalled to the side after sitting out the back-to-back cup League ad FA Cup ties and despite calls for Joel Robles to keep his place but Roberto Martinez's faith was rewarded as his first-choice 'keeper pulled off a series of saves to keep the increasingly intense hosts at bay.

Everton's magnificent defensive display, exemplified by returning skipper Phil Jagielka, was almost undone, however, when Raheem Sterling was sent sprawling by a stoppage time tackle by John Stones that was heart-stoppingly reminiscent of the recent home defeat by Stoke but referee Roger East waved away City's appeals.

Howard had to be alert early to push away Yaya Toure's downward header from a ninth-minute corner and he was called into a flurry of action in the second half to deny Sterling, De Bruyne and Aguero as Manuel Pellegrini's side established a grip on the game that had the Blues defending manfully to keep things goalless.

Howard's return was one of a number of changes Martinez made to the starting XI from the side that beat City in the Capital One Cup first leg, as John Stones moved to right back to deputise for the injured Seamus Coleman, Leon Osman came in for Tom Cleverley and Jagielka resumed his role at centre half.

Steven Pienaar and Bryan Oviedo, both starters against Dagenham and Redbridge on Saturday, were on the bench alongside Kevin Mirallas and Aaron Lennon.

The match started in pedestrian fashion with Everton focused on ball retention early doors with neat passing but after Stones had emphatically headed away an early City corner, Ross Barkley had a powder-puff shot easily saved.

Kevin de Bruyne got in off Raheem Sterling's pass in the eighth minute but shot wide but Howard did brilliantly to make that save from Toure at one end before Gerard Deulofeu was denied by Hart's leg at other.

City remained the more incisive of the two sides overall and Howard beat Aguero to a loose ball and Sterling blasted over the bar but Deulofeu remained a threat and he rounded Martin Demichelis with pace but, again, his cross was cut out at near post.

Everton came within inches of taking the lead with half an hour gone when excellent hold-up play by Lukaku ended with a flighted cross that Osman flashed inches past the post with a stunning left-foot volley.

Three minutes later, Lukaku raced away in front of Demichelis but from a tightening angle, he clipped his shot just over the bar.

Those incidents came in the middle of a superb spell for Everton in which they frustrated the home faithful by dominating the ball but City came back into in the closing stages of the half and Stones was easily beaten to the byline by De Bruyne but, thankfully, his cut-back didn't find a sky blue jersey.

Everton began the second half well and Lukaku was almost put in off Barkley's reverse pass before the Belgian's right foot shot was blocked behind as Stones struggled at the other end of the pitch with a knock.

The young England international was able to run the injury off but after Jesus Navas's wayward shot flew wide off Jagielka's heel, Stones was almost caught out badly for dithering on the ball but Sterling couldn't capitalise on the error.

Stones atoned shortly afterwards by blocking a shot from the same player, an intervention that allowed Howard to gather, Navas smashed a cross into the side-netting, Ramiro Funes Mori blocked another Toure effort behind Howard batted away an Aguero volley from the resulting corner as Everton's defence held firm.

With the visitors largely extinguished as an attacking force, City kept coming forward in waves but Everton's back line remained resolute. Howard made two important stops with his feet to save from Sterling and divert De Bruyne's cross away from danger before denying Aguero once more with 20 minutes to go.

Martinez then moved to help out his tiring team with two substitutions, withdrawing Deulofeu and Osman in favour of Steven Pienaar and Arouna Kone, changes that allowed the Blues to flirt with forcing a shock winner in the closing stages but Lukaku had another effort blocked behind while he headed another difficult chance wide.

In between, Navas dropped a free header over the bar from 12 yards out, Aguero clipped a shot over the bar after being forced well wide by Jagielka and Stones appeared to make a lucky escape as Everton were able to see the game out for a creditable and battling 0-0 draw.

Full details: ToffeeWeb Match Report

Reader Comments (150)

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Jeff Armstrong
1 Posted 13/01/2016 at 18:56:04
Pienaar for Osman for me, give Baines someone to play with.
Joseph Terrence
2 Posted 13/01/2016 at 18:58:38
Ossie will poach one.
Lyndon Lloyd
3 Posted 13/01/2016 at 18:59:51
I was speaking with Dr David France when the team news came through and he sent this terrific gag over! Very timely and very apt...

Gary Mortimer
4 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:04:43
Can someone give me one good reason why Howard is back in goal...

OK, just one reason...

Even a really shit one...

It's a Wednesday doesn't count!

Colin Battison
5 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:05:01
I'm not happy with Howard coming back in but it was inevitable. Osman on the left is a strange one but he has played their before; I would of preferred Lennon or Mirallas but Martinez will never play two wingers and obviously KM is going to leave this window if he can't get in on the left before Cleverley, Kone or Osman.

Saying that, I do believe City are scared of our attacking prowess... Bite your nails time. COYB.
William Cartwright
8 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:07:09
Brilliant cartoon, love it. However the team selection just throws me. I hope it throws the opposition as well! I'm off to bed...
Colin Battison
9 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:07:14
That's class, Lyndon, LMFAO!
Clive Rogers
10 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:13:45
I thought he said he wouldn't move Stones as we couldn't afford to lose him at CB!!!!
Denis Richardson
11 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:15:50
Few things I don't like...

- Howard back in goal
- Stones at RB
- Osman starting (Pienaar and Mirallas benched...)

Lot of weaknesses in the starting XI and we haven't even kicked off!

Long night ahead, I fear... at least Besic starts.

Rob Hooton
12 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:16:38
Gary, don't be ridiculous, it's because tomorrow is Thursday and Tims initials are the first 2 letters of said day...
Brent Stephens
13 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:17:05
That's very good, Lyndon!
Dick Fearon
14 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:18:08
Marc Williams
15 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:20:36

Gary @ 4 ......l'll have a go at a shit one..... How about a hopeless attempt by a clueless clown of a manager to justify the long lucrative contract he gave to a hapless has been.

Jay Harris
17 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:25:02
I am shocked even taking account of this manager's previous.

Stones at RB?

Ossie in a game like this?

Never mind the obvious.

RM must know something the rest of us don't.

Maybe he thinks he will shock Man City with the selection.

Rob Williamson
18 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:26:02
Picking Howard is a big risk for Martinez tonight. If there is even a sniff of a mistake from our seemingly untouchable keeper – an unclaimed cross, a near post goal – then he, Martinez, will be pilloried and rightly so.

If the recent statements from Bobby, that he doesn't know whether Howard will be staying beyond the end of the season, are true, then I would have thought it was better to make the decision to replace him NOW.

Howard is a bad enough keeper when his focus is supposed to be on Everton – if he's got half an eye on his likely return to the States, God knows what he's going to be like.
Tony Hill
19 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:29:55
Osman on a big pitch like the Etihad is a massive risk. I am concerned also if Stones is at right back but here's hoping. Come on boys.
Anthony Flack
20 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:36:29
I thought Ossie was outstanding when he came on against city, more of the same please.... As for Tim shite I hope he proves us all wrong.....
Dave Abrahams
21 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:47:08
David France, thanks for the laugh, I'm sure we could all do with one. I mean Martinez makes you laugh; unfortunately most of us are laughing at him. I suppose it is better than swearing.
Andrew McLean
22 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:48:27
Stones will be fine. He played plenty of times as RB for Barnsley and in early days in England U21
Christy Ring
23 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:53:19
Stones is not a fullback, Pennington, or Oviedo a better option, but it tells us, we need to buy Byron.
Steve Davies
24 Posted 13/01/2016 at 19:54:03
Howard back in the side, he will be immense, phenomenal.....

Three more points down the pan Roberto.........

Totally frustrating.....he is on another planet to the rest of us.......

Roman Sidey
25 Posted 13/01/2016 at 20:08:31
Howard aside, I'm pretty happy with the line-up. Not sure about Stones at right-back but when we signed him three years ago a lot of people thought he was a right-back anyway.

20 mins in and so far Howard seems to be playing like he knows he's got someone looking at his spot.

Also, I really like Aguero but he he should have had a yellow for that dive after the Besic challenge.

Teddy Bertin
26 Posted 13/01/2016 at 20:12:41
Shut up about Howard in goal (unless it's in the form of an entertaining cartoon). He's got years left on his contract, he's been a great servant to the club, he's a good influence on the kids, he's an Everton ambassador in the emerging US market, he's a top quality shot stopper and, like Moyes, the current manager doesn't want to drop him.

Personally I would have given Robles a run in the team to try and get Howard fighting for his place (considering we're stuck with him) but that isn't how Martinez is going about it, so can we just stop moaning and stop the sarcastic cheering? It's making the situation worse.

Martinez doesn't read ToffeeWeb and I think we're all in agreement that Robles should have been given an extended run to see if we needed to sign a new goalie in Jan. Enough's enough.
Rob Hooton
27 Posted 13/01/2016 at 20:36:34
So far so good, Blues, some excellent play and Ossie rolling back the years – one of my favourite players in recent times and has more technical ability than Lampard and Creasehead put together, so underrated and undervalued.

Howard looking assured so far too – IMWT??
Roman Sidey
28 Posted 13/01/2016 at 20:40:09
That volley, eh, Rob? Agonising.

Stones at right-back is like a new signing.

Andy Crooks
29 Posted 13/01/2016 at 20:42:11
Marc (#13), good post.
Rob Hooton
30 Posted 13/01/2016 at 20:46:35
Roman, that would have been a goal of the season contender! More of the same 2nd half please, defence (and Howard) looking solid.

Oh shit... tapping wood, OCD like!
Clive Rogers
31 Posted 13/01/2016 at 20:52:57
Rob #24
Are you serious?
Rob Hooton
32 Posted 13/01/2016 at 20:54:19
Maybe a bit OTT, Clive, but I love him!
Jim Hardin
33 Posted 13/01/2016 at 20:55:32
Howard is in because Robles is not better. Simple. He didn't exactly keep a clean sheet versus Man City now did he? Over here we say you have to beat the man to be the man and Robles, well, guess we will still call him boy.

Second, Stones is at right back because he has played there. Plus, he is not a center back. Get him wide or up the field to begin with to take advantage of the things he does well, passes, dribbles, and avoiding headers.

First half kind of supports all of the above doesn't it? Awaiting the usual witty drivel in response.

Rob Hooton
34 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:01:27
Nail on the head, Jim. Apologies, Clive, I am on a combo of Guinness and Jamiesons and have to throw my disdain in for twat head, I really hate him and come out with some bollocks sometimes!
Clive Rogers
35 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:24:23

That explains it. Ossie has been a good servant, but only averaged 4 goals a season. Lampard has 178 Premier League goals.

Andy Crooks
36 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:34:19
Jim, Robles needs a run in the side before you can compare like for like. At present Tim Howard is a poor goalkeeper in my view; he is a liability and his continued selection is incomprehensible and almost cruel.

I am not watching the game right now so I hope he is having the game of his life.

Andy Meighan
37 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:37:28
Take that result 2 weeks tonight as well. More than happy with that.
Jim Potter
38 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:39:16
Sounds like Tim had a good game. Well in that man.
Andy Crooks
39 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:39:30
Jim Hardin, just heard that Howard had a super game. Serve me up some of that US humble pie.
Rob Hooton
40 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:42:04
True Clive, though I reckon if Ossie had played with players that cost more than our while squad at the time he would have had a shed load more, though Frank was definitely the best goal scoring midfielder we will see for a very long time (sheepishly purring drinks with tail between legs).

Well chuffed with that result and solid performance, and the shite are losing!! Even the biggest anti-Howard brigade have to admit he didn't put a glove wrong tonight, – at least in my blue-tinted specs anyhow.

Couple of nice Bainaar moments too, sign of things to come for a fee months?

Chris Gould
41 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:42:47
Tim Howard was fantastic. His positioning and focus was first class. Martinez got it right. That can't be argued tonight.
Gavin Johnson
42 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:43:32
Well done lads. It was much deserved.

I think we put in a brilliant defensive shift in the 2nd half. And it was by design that we sat back rather than Man City dominating us.

Stones was lucky at the end but karma balanced things out with the penalty that should never have been against Stoke the other week.

I fully expect us to win this trophy now... It's destiny! :)

Gavin Johnson
43 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:45:29
And credit where credit's due. Tim Howard played brilliantly and his first half save made the difference in the end. Martinez made the right call and I was wrong.
Ian Riley
44 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:47:56
Sorry, Howard puts in a Man of the Match performance. About bleeding time!!!!

Good result, shame it's not the cup match!!!

Andrew Brookfield
45 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:48:09
Brilliant tactics tonight by Martinez, great strength of character by the boss to bring our Number One keeper back despite what fans think. Well done Everton, bring on the cup semi...
Ognjen Mojovic
46 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:49:23
Well, at the end, why Sterling left his leg to be caught by Stones? But, thank you referee!
Andrew James
47 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:49:52
Gary @ 4 - if you saw Howard's performance tonight....MOTM.

Sometimes we are a little too quick to slate our own players / manager.

Well done the lads tonight – Tim especially. Brilliant gutsy performance!

Gavin Johnson
48 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:49:58
It's not the Cup?! Nooo!! Here's me celebrating. I don't believe that.
Kevin Fitzsimons
49 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:51:22
Nice Cartoon to sum up the game on the BBC
Nick Armitage
50 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:52:33
Barkley was abysmal tonight. Again.
Christy Ring
51 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:53:29
Superb result, had chances, but delighted with the team effort, as we worked and defended to a man, and Tim to his credit, MotM.
Chris Gould
52 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:55:21
Nick, after a great team performance, why do you feel the need to slate Barkley?
Nick Armitage
53 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:57:19
If Barkley had a brain, we'd have got 3 points from that game. He's the new Gravesen: slow, clueless and lazy.
John Raftery
54 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:57:54
Tonight, Tim Howard repaid the Manager's faith in him with some superb saves. We deserved the point and might even have snatched a win. Same again in a fortnight will do nicely.
Teddy Bertin
55 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:58:01
So many negative comments about Howard on here before the game and he played a blinder. He's been poor this season but I don't agree with excessive criticism (especially of such a long-serving player). I just hope Howard can use this as a spring board to return to form and show he's not past it.

If I was Howard, I wouldn't want to end such a long career at a club thinking that the fans hated me at end the end and were desperate for me to leave. I hope he proves his critics wrong, wins the fans back, and then gracefully moves to the MLS having been replaced by a world class keeper.
Paul Olsen
56 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:58:30
Barkley was good for the first half. He obviously was told to stay up front, so therefore no sight of him was made in the second half.

Nick Armitage
57 Posted 13/01/2016 at 21:59:38
Howard great tonight, definitely helped by Jags in front of him.
Paul Olsen
58 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:00:07
Howard is a good goalie when he can play to his strengths, like tonight.
Paul Olsen
59 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:01:50
Mind you. How many corners did they have? How many did Howard claim? The defence definitely did their bit at making Howard look great.

Jags was MotM for me. Not slating Howard in any way, he was fab too.

Eddie Dunn
60 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:01:53
That was defensive solidity, could Martinez have stumbled on his best centre-back pairing? Stones did well at right-back, but he could play midfield.

Martinez has had lots of stick from me this season, but he got it right and Howard repaid his faith. I hope Stones cuts out those sliding lunges, when the player is going out of play!

Gary Mortimer
61 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:03:29
Andrew @42. Yep, I saw it... I didn't see that coming, but well done Tim Howard. Perhaps the break has done him good. If he plays like that every week, then he deserves another chance...

Great defensive effort in 2nd half – though Ross did a good job on Toure, but I would have liked to see him get on the ball a bit more.

Andrew Laird
62 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:04:02
Well played Tim Howard, perhaps the little bit of bench warming gave him some much needed focus that we have been crying out for?

I honestly cannot remember (2012?) the last time Howard put in a man of the match display so the brickbats are justified for his poor form. He has definitely earned us a point today though so, well in Tim Howard.

Colin Hughes
63 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:05:22
Nothing result, just keeps us floundering in mid-table, 15 points behind the mighty Leicester, and we couldn't even gain a point on the RedShite as they get their customary 90th minute equaliser.

Managers are judged on their league results and quite frankly our win ratio this season is piss poor – can anyone really see us winning at Chelsea at the weekend? If not, it's 6 wins in 22. Less wins to games than last season's debacle.
Ernie Baywood
64 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:05:38
Second half, backs to the wall and Bobby waited too long to make subs again. That half had to be all about counter attacking and we had a shattered Deulofeu and Osman puffing away on each flank.

The first half was a great performance and deserved something. Barkley oozed class and was my pick of the players. Besic dominated and played good stuff as well as harrying and tracking as usual. We looked more assured with Jags back.

Tim for MotM for me.

Patrick Murphy
65 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:06:19
My heart won't take a similar backs-to-the-wall performance in a fortnight's time. We were so unambitious going forward it was like a return to the Moyes era.

Yes, Man City are a decent team, but we over-respected them as we have done all too often in the past. We will have to score at least once in the second-leg because I can't see us keeping them out at the other end. We may get away with it like we did tonight. If that's the case, I'll keep my cardiologist on speed-dial.

Osman starting is a signal of our lack of strength in depth. Howard, Jagielka, Baines, Osman, Pienaar all played in this match but we didn't have a Cahill or an Arteta to worry them. Very reminiscent of a Moyes team without really troubling their below standard defence.

Obviously I'd settle for the same result in 14 days time, as it is our only realistic chance of taking anything from a pretty disappointing season.

Tony Abrahams
66 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:06:48
I can see us winning at Chelsea.
Ernie Baywood
67 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:08:13
Nick you've got me amazed.

Barkley was abysmal?

Howard benefited from having Jags in front of him when he made those point blank saves?

Those points aren't even worth countering... Just repeating them is enough!

Jamie Barlow
68 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:08:29
Steve Davies@21, your first sentence is absolutely spot on.
Mike Oates
69 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:09:07
Martinez has a nice problem to sort out, thought Jags and Funes Mori were superb together and Stones isn't a right back. I still believe Stones will make a brilliant defensive midfielder.

Full credit to all the team tonight; tough place to go and we were better than them for the first 45 mins, but we never got going again till 80th minute

MotM – Jagielka.

Tony Hill
70 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:11:33
A good result but I agree with Patrick (60) and I'm afraid I find it difficult to get too excited. Deulofeu is struggling at the moment which is a worry since he has been important for our attacking intent and we were toothless tonight in truth.

Excellent from Howard and Besic.

Gary Carter
71 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:12:26
6 wins in 21 games!! We are not even winning one in every three games... unacceptable!
Paul Olsen
72 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:15:04
Howard definitely benefited from having Jags in front of him, Ernie. He could stand safely on his line on all their cross, not having to make his usual flaps.

Again, not faulting his performance but he didn´t have to do those things that he has been faulted for all season.

Sam Hoare
73 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:15:25
I'm pleased for Tim but, to be honest, I didn't think he made any top class saves. Most were regulation in my opinion though they still have to be made of course.

Besic impressed me as did Barry who has been great all season. Jagielka and Funes Mori looked very solid and I thought Barkley and Lukaku did pretty well for the most part. Ossie and Deulofeu the weaker links for me and we really need a first choice left winger who can make things happen whilst working hard up and down his flank.

A good result and hope we can do the same when returning there next!

John Jones
74 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:17:34
@62 The problem with Barkley is that he leaves so much to be desired, it's there for all to see the ability he has, but he lacks one critical element and that's his decision-making: its absolutely terrible.

His weight of pass, type of pass, direction of pass, when to hold or when to release the ball and when to shoot are nearly always wrong. He is a good player and will always be a good player, nothing more. He is at his level with us in mid-table, quite honestly.

I hate to say it as he seems a nice enough lad, and he is one of us after all, but will he ever be at the level of say Cazorla, Oscar, Ozil or Mata and the answer is a resounding no.

Jamie Sweet
75 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:18:22
Howard wins us back one of the twelve points he has cost us!

Keep it up Tim!

Paul Thompson
76 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:20:51
Okay, we CAN defend. Too close for comfort in the second half, but total concentration and superb organisation.

Besic in front of the back four makes a real difference. It was perhaps inevitable that Man City would raise their game in the second half, but bringing Kone and Pienaar on to help us keep the ball didn't really work.

As for Howard – one of his best ever displays for us and he was great in the post-match interview.
Tony Dove
77 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:21:02
Gavin@38 Not sure where Stoke come into this. City were probably at the wrong end of two major decisions last Wednesday so lets hope there is no balancing act until after the second leg!
Paul Olsen
78 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:21:07
At least we proved two things:

1: We can go toe to toe with them and attack at their ground (1st half);
2: We can actually shut up shop at the Etihad and defend with discipline. That was the most surprising aspect to me.

Both things gives me hope ahead of the replay next week.

Andrew Laird
79 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:21:11
Why can't Martinez play 2 wingers at the same time?
Darren Hind
80 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:21:49
I don't think we set out to defend quite so deep, but Some of City's approach play was fantastic, we defended our box manfully and deserved a point.
City gave it everything they had and it wasnt enough, I'm taking great heart from that
Paul Smith
81 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:23:04
I have to give Howard credit – it was a very good performance by him. I was also happy with the resilience shown 2nd half.

On the downside, why bring Kone on and not Lennon to play right midfield? I thought Besic played well again and Jagielka looked like he had not missed any football.
Bill Gall
83 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:25:27
Great team performance tonight, every player played there part in a game that we where always in with a chance for the 3 pts, played in poor conditions.

We have been complaining about our defensive performances for a number of games and the return of Jags to me shows how much he has been missed. Jags return also gives us a chance to rest either Stones or Funes Mori.

The effort tonight should be recognized as a good performance. as there are very few teams that have stopped City from scoring at home.

Brent Stephens
84 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:26:17
Sam, I can't disagree about Tim. He's comfortable and looks great (as he did tonight, well done) with reflex saves (a la World Cup) but shit scared of crosses and getting hurt in a heavy challenge.
Phil Walling
85 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:29:07
I would have gone with Robles in goal... And we would have lost.

Tim is the best shot-stopper in the business... when he's on form. A top keeper is a summer priority!
Dave Abrahams
86 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:31:30
I didn't see the game: good result, pat on the back to Howard, if he was as good as most are saying on here. I still would have played Robles because the lad has more than earned a run in the team.
Dave Southword
87 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:34:54
City are pretty formidable at home, so that's a good point and a good clean sheet.
Colin Metcalfe
88 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:36:55
Howard did well – a few routine saves.... but he is past his best we know this...

One swallow doesn't make a summer!
Philip Yensen
89 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:37:30
We played great in the first half and shite in the second. What does Martinez say to the teams at half time?

Barkley's back to square one: wrong pass, wrong shot or attempt. Stones – right back? Nah. Deulofeu – one-half player. Pienaar nowhere near fit and finished.

Second half, we were crap and could have lost by 3-4 goals. But I'll take a draw though.
Jim Hardin
90 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:41:51
Just wondering if maybe the problem all along has been Stones as a center back? Mori and Jags looked much better together without the usual shakiness between Stones and Mori and Stones and the rest of the defense. Maybe Jags knows Spanish or Texican and can communicate better?

Stones could play right back or midfield. Perhaps he and Besic together would be an interesting duo. Besic defending and Stones getting forward more since his offensive skills seem to be the better of the two players. Does give options for RM.

On form, does Howard play the second leg versus Man City in the League Cup? Did everything right so how could he be dropped?

Dave Pritchard
92 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:42:43
A clean sheet at Man City is very good. Stones needs to stop making these lunging tackles as that could easily have been given as a pen... About time we got a decision in our favour.

I thought every player worked hard and Jags was excellent. Same again in a fortnight will do nicely.
Trevor Lynes
93 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:48:42
Look at the cost of that Man City side and look at the cost of ours. That was a fine result against a top team and confounded the pundits and the bookies.

If we get anywhere near the top four by the end of the season then that would be a real success. This season gives us an outside chance but if this board continue to dither over strengthening the squad then we will falter.

No other top team would have players of the calibre of Osman, Pienaar, Kone, McGeady, Gibson, Hibbert and others on their first team squad. Osman, Pienaar and Hibbert have been fine players but are now fading. Signing Gibson and McGeady were monumental errors. Kone has dried up as far as goals are concerned and Lennon was a discard from Spurs. Barry and Howard are needing replacement pretty soon.

Our real assets are all coveted by richer clubs and whether we can hang on to Lukaku, Barkley and Stones is debatable. IMO we need an overhaul and we must sign two or three ready made players of repute if we are to show enough ambition to keep our young stars happy.

Great result this evening and it was a pity we could not have done a 'Leicester' and poached a goal at the end.

Rob Hooton
95 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:52:40
Welcome back Cap'n Jags! He was immense and slotted straight back in for such a big game.

Thought the whole team did well and can't fault anyone for City's pressure 2nd half, they are the most expensively assembled team in the league – even surpassing the vile Chelski

Jay Harris
96 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:55:09
I should eat my pre-match comments.

Thought the whole team were exceptional first half and were unlucky not to nose in front.

What a difference Besic has made.

It wouldn't be Everton to keep it up for 90 minutes though.

Thought we were under siege second half and Stones should have been taken off after getting injured. It should not be the player's decision to stay on the pitch. I thought he was a real liability after that and almost gave a penalty away.

Nick, I can't believe your comment on Barkley. He practically ran the game for us. Lukaku doesn't like being shackled and his hold up play was poor but otherwise a good result and more of the same hopefully in the games to come.

Ernie Baywood
97 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:55:45
Paul #66, I won't disagree that Jags makes a difference or that he played well tonight.

But Howard has been slated for not attacking crosses (and everything else about his game). Now we say it helped him that he didn't have to? Surely the issue there is that defensively we have gone months without the right personnel. The issue has been as much to do with Mori and Stones as it was Howard. Jags coming back helped the whole team. It helped Funes Mori look better too. And Stones. None of them were criticised for not doing something that isn't a big part of their game.

Howard is declining with age. No doubt from me. But he is what he is and Roberto picks the team.

On the right back issue. Some on the live forum we're claiming Seamus must be an issue and Stones should play there. I thought Stones filled in well but he's a much better centre-half. He got carried away going forward attempting passes and dribbles... you've got Barkley and Deulofeu next to you – give it to them! As much as I want to see the exciting parts of his game he needs to realise he could be a top centre-half but has nothing like the ball skills of a top midfielder.

Gavin Johnson
98 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:56:58
I thought Jags played very well alongside Funes Mori tonight. And while I don't want to take anything away from Howard's performance, I thought that defensive pairing actually looked safer than Stones & Funes Mori.
John Hughes
99 Posted 13/01/2016 at 22:59:33
Well played, The Blues... and well played, Tim Howard – from one who wanted Robles to play tonight. COYB
Colin Malone
100 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:01:58
Great defensive performance, Howard still not commanding the penalty area, did well in shot-stopping.

Nothing up front at all, very frustrating again.

Roger Sunde
101 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:02:24
I am one of few that wanted Howard back. I am not blind and see that Timmy has been struggling a long time but I don't think Robles is the answer to be honest. Everton need a keeper but it's not Robles.
Michael Polley
102 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:03:19
Back Four were solid and soaked up all the pressure. Even Howard had a good game, and redeemed himself for some of his woeful displays. Besic was outstanding. Great draw, and well deserved point.

Thank Christ the ref didn't view Stones tackle in the last minute as a penalty, I was certain it would be given, I was already storming out of the living room in disgust. Relieved we got away with it, as was Stones I'm sure.

Chelsea for the taking on Saturday then. COYB

Michael Polley
103 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:06:33
Interesting to see what the game plan will be for the Cup replay?
Mike Price
104 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:07:30
Howard made a few decent saves, that's what decent keepers do all the time. It will be talked about for eons by his few supporters and Martinez. He just did his job for once and then was quick to point out that he is at the 'top' and doesn't listen to outsiders.

He can get way with years of disastrous performances, play one or two decent 'reaction save' games a year and rest on them with a smug grin until 2018.

Decent point but using PL games to get clearly unfit players up to speed, like Osman and Pienaar, isn't likely to get us wins at the Etihad.

Brian Furey
105 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:09:14
A few weeks ago, I started to pick on Stones. We all know about his skill and great tackling but the lad is still young and has a lot to learn. For example when to just hoof it to relieve pressure and when NOT to make that amazing lunging tackle.

Glad so many on here have the balls to praise Howard when he has a good game but yes Lennon or Mirallas would have given them more to worry about than Kone. Still I'm delighted RM has showed his team are capable of going to such an attacking team and getting a 0-0 draw.
Liam Reilly
106 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:13:36
It was a penalty Michael; stupid challenge. Can't fathom why Martinez leaves it so late for subs in a game that's crying out for fresh legs.

Still a pont gained and Howard did well; can't argue with that.

Simon Harris
107 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:14:29
Can't agree that Barkley practically ran the game. In the match I watched he was a passenger.

The lad's got so much talent but frustrates (a la toure) with his lethargic sauntering without the ball.

It was crying our for a bit of energy up front, I'd have welcomed Naismith (if fit/selected) or Mirallas.

Solid defensive display and hopefully a confidence boost going into the all important semi-final decider.

And what about Ossie's Sheedyesque strike!

John Malone
108 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:15:08
Gavin 86, great point, mate. Stones – for all his good ball play – has not been good enough defensively; too many bad decisions which have cost us points but people blame the goalie without looking what the defence are doing!

Howard never got this much stick when it was Distin and Jags, did he!

BW Johnson
109 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:15:28
We are apparently the first team to keep City scoreless at the Etihad this season. Do it again ... And we're at Wembley.

And yet we have the usual moaners ... Barkley was rubbish, Osman is slow, Howard has only had one good game all season.

Besic must start every game now surely? More creativity, pace and tackling grunt than McCarthy and Cleverley in the middle.

So... Cheer up, boys and girls!! A point there is a positive!

Brian Furey
111 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:23:59
January 2015 was Man City's last time not to score at home v Middlesboro in the FA Cup and Arsenal the week before. Impressive.
Colin Hughes
112 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:50:26
Watching the highlights on MotD, they didn't show one single attack from us in the second half. Can't get away with being that negative in the cup tie or we will get a thrashing. We were lucky not to have conceded 4 there tonight.
Dave Abrahams
113 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:53:30
Just watched MOTD. Stones was very lucky, it was a clear penalty to me, foolish tackle, he's not learning is he.
James Stewart
114 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:54:51
Besic is a real player, big improvement on others in that position.

Stones is no right back, not at this level. Hope to never see him there again.

Tony Hill
115 Posted 13/01/2016 at 23:55:07
The frustration is that we cannot maintain form over two halves. Of course, we were playing a top side tonight – though a side which, in my opinion, is well out of form – but we shrivelled in the second half if we're honest as any sort of attacking force. What might have happened if we'd really believed in ourselves and pressed on?

We are told that we mustn't moan but it would be lovely, just for once, to see us play with joined up defence and attack against a decent side in the Premier League for more than 45 minutes.

Steve Jenkins
116 Posted 13/01/2016 at 00:01:41
A very mature performance from a defensive point of view - plenty of men behind the ball defending well with intensity.

Isn't that what we've all been screaming for.

There was moment where City broke and normally we wouldn't have any cover - but there was Besic back protecting the back 4.

Hopefully a sign that lessons are being learned.

I definitely thinks we've missed Jags' experience and organisation, which told tonight.

I thought Besic and Barks were excellent and brought much required energy and composure to our midfield.

Del Boy was dangerous with his pace down the right.

Howard was solid tonight.

Osman - for me its a risk starting him, especially in game as fast and with as many fit and pacy players as City have.

A excellent point as long as we continue defensively like this in the following games, we all know we can score goals.

Bob Parrington
117 Posted 13/01/2016 at 00:01:42
Dave #103. Agreed. Good job Clattenburg wasn't reffing the game, eh?

Stones needs to get his act back together!

David Hallwood
118 Posted 13/01/2016 at 00:05:49
I'm watching extended highlights on Sky, and the 1st half we are excellent and Ossie could've scored the goal of the season, Besic brilliant and must be 1st on the team sheet.

Haven't seen the 2nd half yet, but 0-0 away to Citteh does me, and we'll turn Chelsea over

Max Fine
119 Posted 13/01/2016 at 00:07:37
Just watched the highlights and City had a nailed-on pen denied to them. Stones is a lucky man and we could easily (and probably should) have walked away with nothing there.

That said I think we're overdue some luck. I hope it's a sign of things to come... well done, blue boys!
Clive Lewis
120 Posted 13/01/2016 at 00:14:09
Seemed like it was a defensive dress rehearsal for 2 weeks time in the second half, we were excellent first half. Barkley and Besic became a bit anonymous second half but were excellent first. We have improved first half.

I get the feeling Roberto gets out his statistical tablet out at half-time and saddens them into a depressing state of mind. It seems like we lose all our ambition to score. Maybe he is trying too hard, saying nothing at half-time would be a better option.

Jim Hardin
121 Posted 13/01/2016 at 00:23:16
Mike Price,

At it again I see. I won't re-post my reply to yet more of the same "opinions" from you. Will it be medication or alcohol or both to blame for your anti-Howard post on this thread? I think that, if he could bring back Jesus, you still would slate Howard for waiting so long or some other nonsense. Maybe his saves looked routine to you because he made a couple look easier than they were simply by being correctly in position in advance (advantage of playing closer to the line).

Maybe, as I have suggested since last season, the blame is in the organization of the back four, specifically Stones? Seems Funes Mori - Jags is a better pairing than Jags - Stones, or Stones - Funes Mori. It is too early to tell yet but it looked promising, almost like Distin was back.

Not all were routine saves, sorry. Also, the foot save was exactly what Robles doesn't, or can't do, and didn't for the Man City goal in his game from a similar angle. Tim kept it out, Joel didn't.

Mike Price
122 Posted 14/01/2016 at 00:41:19
Jim Hardin,

Thank you for pointing out my occasional use of alcohol and drugs (prescription of course); that was very nice of you and I just hope it doesn't upset your sensibilities too much.

You may have noticed that most Evertonians agree with my opinion of Howard, whether under the influence or stone cold sober.

Might have known that his few acolytes would be out after he actually did what a Premier League goalie should. Congratulations to him and you of course.

Peter Cummings
123 Posted 14/01/2016 at 00:50:57
Yet again a 45 minute performance... up to half-time we were as good as City in every department. Cue the second half and we were under siege, Hart could have gone home and watched the 2nd half on the box.

Those who believe a similar result will see us at Wembley (and it will of course) will be living in hope that our rejuvenated defence will make it happen but, if we set out to make that the plan and allow them room to express their obvious talents over 90 mins, we are doomed I tell you... DOOMED!!!

Have to give credit for a 1st half of an excellent combination of teamwork and application plus individual effort by all the boys Besic, Jags, Funes Mori and Stones, who nearly cost us the points, Barry and Howard in particular.

Colin Gee
124 Posted 14/01/2016 at 01:12:16
I have been one of Howard's biggest critics this season but he did have a decent game tonight. Besic was class again, Rom and Ross both had one of those games..... Pienaar and Baines showed some of the old magic once he came on for Osman. I can't believe Kone came on instead of Mirallas!

Got home just in time to see the last 10 seconds of the highlights on MotD, it didn't look like it at the time, but that was a penalty in the last minute. I think we got lucky there! I will take the same result in a fortnight's time though.

Darryl Ritchie
125 Posted 14/01/2016 at 01:15:35
An excellent point. It should have been a penalty, but with form Howard was in, he would've saved it anyways. MotM performance when we... and he, really needed one. The debate will rage on!!!

Jags was phenomenal, as was Funes Mori. Bainsey seems to be fully recovered. Watching Stones vs Sterling was epic (Stones won in the end...with a bit of luck, it must be said).

The starting midfield did very well. We weren't quite as effective with Deulofeu and Ossie off, and Kone and Pienaar on. Kone did alright, but Pienaar was way off the pace. He's not all the way back yet.

If we can duplicate this result the next time we face City, it will make my year... mind you the year will only be month or so old.

Derek Thomas
126 Posted 14/01/2016 at 01:22:55
Howard's performance was a mini reprise of his USA World Cup peak. After all, starfish jumps aside, even his sternest critic would always give him a tick in the reflex shot-stopping box... It's his job, basic 'Goalie 101' ffs. It's all the other stuff he's stopped doing, or not doing well enough that gets us in a sweat.

If the answer to the Left Side is not Kone... and for some reason it's never going to be Mirallas, then any Osman or Pienaar permutation might not be the end of the world. Although none of them will ever again put in a full 90+ or even 60 at this level.

Martinez seems to have stumbled on to a good 11 with the addition of Besic. I hope he keeps this as his new base line minimum for all the season not just for January.

Got to sort this 2nd half mental block thing though. The standard team talk at half time after you've done pretty well, especially away to a good team, should always contain the driven home message (leaving the bleedin obvious unspoken doesn't work) 'We know they are going to come out hard at us, so'...

So? rip into them first... Harder, Faster.

But I don't think 'Getting your retaliation in first' features anywhere in Bobby's nice guy, purist 'Philosophy'.

Colin Metcalfe
127 Posted 14/01/2016 at 03:29:27
Peter (#113) – I could not agree more, why did we stop playing after the first 45? Yet again like Bournemouth, Norwich etc we just switch off in the 2nd half.

In the first half we were toe to toe with them and I don't buy they upped their game! We backed off!

As for Tim Howard, he made up for the the two howlers he made in the first game back in September! Strange, Robles made a better outstretched save last game in the league than anything Howard did tonight but got none of the superlatives showered upon TH tonight!

Victor Jones
128 Posted 14/01/2016 at 03:49:19
Well played, Tim Howard. Take a bow, and all your supporters also take a bow. Thanks for pointing out how great a shot stopper he is. Must be a thrill for you all, knowing that he can "stop a shot"... and he plays a "blinder" about once every two years. Add tonight's performance to his Wolfsburg heroics and his World cup exploits. Pity he didn't get into a shot stopping mode against Bournemouth, Leicester or Stoke City. I'm not going to get into any stupid tit for tat comments, because we could go on all night about who is the better goalkeeper, Howard or Robles. Problem is, as I see it, they both have their moments. They both have their faults but Robles deserves a proper run of games in the team. Then we will know if we have a proper keeper. And people faulting Robles for the goal Man City scored in the League cup? Come on. He also made a few outstanding saves. We need to see more of Robles to make a proper judgement.

Howard played well tonight. It's about time. So all credit to him. Jags and Funes Mori looked solid. That's good. Stones? Will he even be at Everton next season? Will we manage to bring in a top class replacement? Besic? Will he now stay fit and get a proper run in the team? Where does McCarthy now fit in? Pienaar and Osman? Are they really the way forward? Kone?? WTF is Martinez doing to Mirallas? Why is Naismith going? Can Deulofeu ever play two good games in a row? Same goes for Barkley.....why do I support this crazy team? So bloody good....and yet so bloody bad. So talented... yet so error strewn. So quick....and slow. So close....yet so far away. Let's do the business against City in two weeks' time. Martinez must have them sussed out by now. COYBs

Jamie Crowley
129 Posted 14/01/2016 at 04:33:53
Stones showed how young he actually is today numerous times and how he is still developing.

Really, really stupid tackle at the end of the game. You just don't dive in like that in the box after your team has fought so gallantly. It was a pen – no question – and he really got away with one and should have cost us points.

After he was injured he received the ball and gave it away very sloppily after attempting to maneuver around a City player – and he was almost the last man at the rear of the back line. Very poor judgement in that instance.

The final time he was poor was when he shielded a man in the first half while moving back towards our own goal by the touchline for like 30 yards. He really, really needs to know there are times you just put the damn thing into touch.

John Stones is an amazing footballer and I absolutely think he's top class. But he's still very young and I think we saw that on multiple occasions today.

We see the same "off games" from Barkley, Deulofeu, Lukaku... all the young guys. This team is full – bursting – with talent. As these kids mature as footballers and learn to make better decisions they will just get better and better.

We are sitting on a gold mine. It's going to take a bit more time, but we are literally sitting on a gold mine.

Tony Abrahams
130 Posted 14/01/2016 at 07:44:56
Never saw the game Jamie, but I agree about our younger players being exceptional. Can we now add Besic to this list? I was reading last night that Deulofeu was poor, but that pass in the first half to Lukaku was really as good a pass as I have seen off any player this season. Especially considering how wet the pitch must have been.
John Crawley
131 Posted 14/01/2016 at 08:55:46
Played well in the first half, disappeared in the second half. Substitutions made us worse I thought, should have brought on Mirallas and Lennon.

Howard played well and did what you'd expect from your goalkeeper. However the problem he's had this season is dealing with crosses particularly in and around the six-yard box. City aren't the type of team who sling crosses into the box and on corners they didn't really have anyone standing on Howard. When we face a team that does these things, I'm sure we'll see the same old problems raising their head.

Jason Murray
132 Posted 14/01/2016 at 09:07:31
Made up for Tim Howard. Producing a performance like that after all his recent (deserved) criticism will hopefully inspire similar efforts for the rest of the season. If we didn't need the three points so badly, this would ordinarily be considered a great result but we desperately need to start climbing the table.

Second half was a proper Moyes-esque defensive display, I didn't think we had it in us! Shame Ossie's effort in the first half didn't go in coz that would have been a goal of the season contender. Also, it was never a penalty at the end as the diving little shit was already on his way down when Stones went in!
Laurie Hartley
133 Posted 14/01/2016 at 09:14:29
As many above have pointed out, Tim Howard had a very good game tonight. Andy (#36), I am having my US humble pie with maple syrup. ;)

He did make a lot of good saves but I am surprised no-one mentioned the incident where he came for a cross from the left which was less than 50/50 for him. He beat Aguero to it, punched it out, and got clattered in the process – not something I have seen him do too often or that he is renowned for.

I was pleased to see Pienaar come on for the last 20 minutes. He did what he always does, linked up well with Baines, tracked back, and won several free kicks which slowed the game down when the pressure was really on. Still a a good option on the left even if it is as a sub.

A very talented City team came at us with everything in the second half but they couldn't break us down – I think we earned the point with an outstanding defensive effort.

And Lady Luck shone on us in injury time.

Martin Mason
134 Posted 14/01/2016 at 09:15:53
It's hilarious being an Evertonian. A brilliant performance from team and individuals and yet there is still ridiculous criticism of players who played to instructions and did so very well. Last night was one of Barkley's most mature performances in an Everton jersey, Osman played very well in what is not his best position, Stones and Howard were magnificent.

Why is it that we make such ridiculous criticisms of a team that we purport to support and should be giving our encouragement. We make even moaning City fans, who I always thought were the worst, rational by comparison.

Ian Jones
135 Posted 14/01/2016 at 09:18:31
I didn't see the match so not best placed to comment but I have been critical of Tim Howard and the defensive unit in the recent past so credit where it's due and to Martinez. The 5 at the back seem to have had a good evening's run out.

I guess how resilient we have become will become clear over the next few weeks/months. I would take a few one-nil wins. Become hard to beat first and foremost whilst trying to develop attacking instincts. Who would be a manager?
David Midgley
136 Posted 14/01/2016 at 09:48:24
Jamie (#122),

Yes, we are sitting on a gold mine, but does the boss know how to mine it?

I enjoyed the game but thought we ran out of steam a bit. Roberto obviously thinks Pienaar has more to offer than Lennon and Mirallas. In the 80th minute, Kone gave the ball away very poorly and easily. The City player was 20 feet away before he decided half-heartedly to chase after it!

The majority of posters think that Mirallas is better than Kone. If Roberto thinks Kone is better, that's his choice, which I think is wrong. However, if Kone is preferred to spite Mirallas, then that is a terrible decision because it's EFC who suffer more than the player.

Darren Bailey
137 Posted 14/01/2016 at 09:53:23
Good result and some very good performances. Jag's has definitely been missed and like some of you say he seemed to fuse well with Funes Mori which is a great sign as if (when) Stones leaves it means maybe we have a partnership there ready to go. He also led by example and made the back 5 so much more organised and solid which is why he gets my MotM.

Besic has been outstanding since his return and we can all see that he's a must starter for the foreseeable future and for me the successor to Barry to play alongside McCarthy or Cleverley.

I'm not Barry's biggest fan but I can say without doubt he has been so much better than last year and much more consistent, one of our best players of the season so far. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable seeing him start week in week out next season though hence Besic replacing him.

Now for the two main talking points:-

Howard – had a great game and deserves credit for that, much more like the form we've come to expect from him but unfortunately too few and far between do we see that type of display. I have been keeping track this season and due to direct errors from Howard we have conceded 5 goals this season leading to a possible loss of 6 points. Now this is direct errors leading to goals and not overall performances which I know would count for more points dropped. It also doesn't include the penalty he gave away against Leicester. So you could say that he has cost us somewhere in the region of 9/10 points. He's just gained 2 back from that and for me still has a long way to go. Still, it's a start.

The penalty! – Was it a pen? I'd like to say no but I think if it was against us we'd be well pissed. Again I've been keeping track and we have gone though this season without being awarded a penalty at all but have serious claims for three. On the flip side we have had just one occasion when the opposition maybe should have been awarded a pen and wasn't so this now makes two. Also, the opposition has been awarded one penalty that shouldn't have been given. So, in total we have had two favourable penalty decisions (including last night) and four bad decision against us. We're due for that sort of decision and more to go our way so I'm not losing any sleep over it.

They say these decisions even out over the season and that's why I thought I'd keep track.

Anish Dosani
138 Posted 14/01/2016 at 10:01:46
Watching the match now from Australia. Kone, what did he offer? Nothing. Kept on losing the ball, couldn't run with it, misplaced passes. Pretty headless. Mirallas would have done a great job instead. Is Kone Martinez's love-child, or something a little more sinister??

Joe Clitherow
139 Posted 14/01/2016 at 10:06:35
There seems to be an acceptance that we were excellent first half and poor second. I don't agree for the same reason I take real issue that we are playing excellent football under Martinez.

The fact is that we had very good possession first half and some really nice approach play. However, I don't recall a single save Hart had to make. I watched once in real time but I don't believe we actually tested him once. We nearly had a worldie from Leon but actually he missed the target.

Contrast that with the second half City pressure when Howard made a whole bunch of saves, some routine, some very good, and there you have why we will never do anything under Martinez. City had an end product to their possession which was making the goalkeeper work. That's why some people are fooled. Half a game of pretty approach play with no end product is NOT the same as excellent football!

The pleasing flip side, for me, was a much improved defensive performance second half when we actually did what we were supposed to which was keep a clean sheet, just about. A top side still cut through us at will but we just about got away with it. Jagielka's return was the clear reason for that in my opinion. Plus I actually thought Stones was pretty decent defensively as a RB despite some balloonhead moments.

Those of you who think we are on the brink of greatness though, think again. The defensive improvement was pleasing and a good point taken for me but right there is every reason why we will do nothing under Martinez: looks good for a time but always a hair breadth away from defeat and eventually that will catch up with him. You'll be scratching your head thinking we are playing great while we drop down the league. It's a results business; you're only playing great when you're winning, otherwise you're an also ran.

We will only ever be also-rans at best under Martinez I'm afraid. There is no end product and only a world class striker on top of his game is the reason we are better off points wise than the same time last season.

John Hughes
140 Posted 14/01/2016 at 10:06:38
Jim Hardin @114 – most agree that Tom Howard had a decent game late night but why bring Joel Robles into it?

Even I who thought Roles should have played, I have stated that Howard did enough last night so let's have less of this anti-Howard talk eh! If he does well, he gets the praise. Oh by the way – how about your anti-Robles rant(s)???
Ernie Baywood
142 Posted 14/01/2016 at 11:04:43
Joe Clitherow, I'll agree that I'd rather play threatening football than pretty football and the Spurs game was a good example of that. We were more threatening when we had less possession yet the first half performance was roundly criticised. At times we simply have too much of the ball, pushing 11 opposition players into their own half while leaving huge gaps in our defence.

But I thought the first half against City was threatening. We had a nice balance between periods of possession and going direct on the break.

Moving onto other comments about Ross. I just don't get it. If people can't appreciate what he already is after that performance then they never will.

First half he gave an absolute masterclass. Second half his moments were much rarer as we retreated into our own half but he still had moments. The time when he and Besic won the ball on the edge of our box and played one-twos right up to City's box just made me smile with pride - how many teams have players of that kind of ability?

Just a shame that Ross couldn't add to his improved goal and assist stats. Sometimes it just doesn't go for you but we deserved something out of that first half.

Graham Mockford
144 Posted 14/01/2016 at 11:28:17
Jim #114

Fair play you have been pretty much a lone voice defending Tim and last night he played very well. I was in the Robles deserves a chance camp but didn't subscribe to much of the hysteria that has been going on and as for Evertonians going on a player's Twitter account to abuse him personally, don't get me started.

However you can't have it both ways, it seems you always want to dig out John Stones which I find bemusing in the extreme. You want supporters to keep faith with a goalkeeper that even the manager acknowledges has not been at his best but you seem happy to dismiss a young lad who has all the potential to be a world class player and suggest our defensive frailties are laid at his door.

In my view it is neither Tim Howard or John Stones that have been the problem to us conceding so many goals especially at home. It's about system and tactics. The good news is that the manager seems to have stumbled across / displayed tactical flexibility ( take your pick depending on your point of view) to play Besic as part of a three allowing Barkley to play in a more advanced role. Personally and I've said it before a midfield three of Besic, Barry and McCarthy will make us a much more difficult side to get at. It may result in being more defensive but after Stoke and Leicester I'm alright with that.

Joe Clitherow
145 Posted 14/01/2016 at 11:28:29
Agreed Ernie, and about Ross too. Improved a whole bunch IMO this year and some can't see it.

Apart from our lack of real threat in front of goal, the biggest problem with Martinez' philosophy is that it is totally focussed on what to do when we have the ball. It overlooks that the other team gets the ball too. It's why our shape is so poor; it's why the movement off the ball is so poor.

I just don't think he gets this part of the game at all

Ernie Baywood
146 Posted 14/01/2016 at 13:02:06
I think, as patronising to an experienced professional as this might be, that he believes possession will win games on the basis that the best teams usually have more possession. So possession becomes both means and ends.

At times, we're a much better team in both attack and defence with less possession, or at least less possession over the halfway line. Possession is about controlling the game and playing it on your terms, to your strengths. Against Leicester, for example, we completely played to the opposition's strengths by camping in their half and moving the ball around endlessly. We played "well" but on their terms.

Tom Harding
147 Posted 14/01/2016 at 13:11:48
I would like to say that it's quite nice to see Howard stick two fingers up at those disgraceful so-called fans who barrack him every week by vindicating his position in the team with the performance of a top-class goalkeeper. That's why he's picked by RM – because he's high on class but short on confidence.

You don't drop a top class goalie easily or quickly because that might destroy a career or finish it prematurely with a club. Despite all the stick, it has been good man management by RM.

Finally, are we happy now we have kept a clean sheet? Is that the end of saying we'll never be able to defend under RM and that we should sack the manager? For 5 minutes at least, please...

David Price
148 Posted 14/01/2016 at 14:43:41
No problems with a backs-to-the-wall draw. City are now in the top 8 bracket of the best teams in Europe so please some perspective when complaining of another draw.

Reading Bobby's article in The Guardian yesterday, it's clear Howard is leaving in the summer. Chase Butland and the Kiev playmaker – then we can challenge anyone. We have to keep Stones and Barkley is outstanding, to criticise their contribution's is crazy.

What is crazy is Mirallas behind Kone and Ossie in the pecking order. Besic is undroppable yet would he have got his chance but for injuries to Macca and Tom. Frustrating stubborn Manager in Bobby... but, if he's a lucky manager, then I'll take that.
Jay Harris
149 Posted 14/01/2016 at 15:00:38

While I agree it is disgraceful to barrack our own players who, after all, do not pick themselves, I have to say one good game does not renew confidence in Howard.

Although his contribution was huge last night most of his saves were of the panic variety, ie, leg stuck out, punching away etc, with very few "clean" catches.

I am not saying Robles would have done any better last night and it might be churlish after a clean sheet but I still believe a new top class keeper is required asap.

Ernie, I totally agree re Barkley. He very rarely loses the ball and his skill in turning and protecting the ball is world class. Those that can't see that should book an eye test at the earliest opportunity.

Patrick Murphy
150 Posted 14/01/2016 at 15:08:16
David (#140),

I think a lot of what you might call negativity is about the upcoming match at The Etihad as much as it was about last night's game. In the second period in particular, Everton offered very little and may as well have taken Lukaku off, as if we don't supply him, he won't score very often.

Recently I watched Swansea give City a much better game at The Etihad although they lost to a late late winner on that occasion. Of course, Everton may get the same result, ie, a draw in a fortnight's time and that will be greeted very differently indeed; however, one late slip by a player or an official and all the good work will be wrecked. I hope we show a great deal more ambition going forward than we did in the second half of last night's match.
Oliver Molloy
151 Posted 14/01/2016 at 17:07:11
Tom @138,

My opinion is that Howard should have been on the bench once again last night. Yes, he saved what came his way and you would expect that from your first choice goalkeeper, so if that is me giving credit were credit is due – fair enough.

High on class, yeah posting photos of your exclusive first class seat with your very expensive luggage every time he sets foot on an aeroplane on his social media is classy alright... What a load of bollocks.

Robles would have done everything that Howard did last night. I hope the rumours that he is off in the summer are true. Too many mistakes costing us too many points over the last couple of seasons tell me that he is not good enough for Everton.

Is Robles better? We will never know until the guy gets a decent run and if goalkeeping is all about confidence as you mention then Robles should not have been dropped.

Jim Hardin
152 Posted 14/01/2016 at 18:20:33

I have been pointing out the defensive deficiencies since last season when Distin was dropped. I have pointed out that unless the keeper is actually dropping balls into his goal, letting them go through his legs or other fumbling of the ball across the line, there are usually other reasons for the goals scored (Barclays Premier League site for 2015-16 indcates no errors by Howard resulting in goals) In this case,the reason that I saw was the defense and namely the centerbacks, specifically Stones (since Jags was in last season).

As for blaming one player, isn't that what most on here have done to Howard? He is being blamed for goals not his fault. Everton concede goals from poor defending and poor positioning mostly by the two players charged with commanding and controlling the area in front of the keeper, the centerbacks.

If part of the job of a centerback is defending crossses, man marking, positional awareness, and willingness to control and command the area then Stones is a poor defender because he fails to do this in every game. I am sick of hearing that our defenders with Galloway in were young and error prone. Fine,they are, but that means they make mistakes and those mistakes turn into shots on goal and goals. Stop blaming the keeper and claiming he has poor form when there is more to it. If a defender is only doing half of his job why is he being given a free pass? It is only now that others are seeing that Mori is better at it than is Stones and that the Mori-Jags pairing might be the correct one. That Robles did not keep a clean sheet is as much a factor of the same positional deficiencies as Howard faces each game, as well as it is down to Robles' inability to read the situation, get into position and then make the footsave.

Your point that I am wrong to blame just Stones is valid to a degree but isn't it just as wrong to blame our goalkeeper?

Les Martin
153 Posted 14/01/2016 at 19:19:51
Credit Tim Howard with getting us a well-earned draw last night with some excellent stops. I hope this form continues until the end of the season, then we assess and move on.

Another player of note was Mo Besic, what a great player we could have on our hands here – people who time their tackle like him are not common place... add that to his all-round ability with a great engine, a superb bit of transfer business by Roberto.
Darren Hind
154 Posted 14/01/2016 at 19:32:37
I think we need to judge each individual performance on its own Merit.

Contrary to what Jim (#143) is claiming, Howard has been dogshit for much of this season, a semi-decent keeper would have seen us much further up the table, BUT, he was fantastic last night and we need to acknowledge it.

In my opinion, claims that he was "lucky" just seem Churlish. If we are going to criticise him when he plays badly – and most of us have – How can our argument have any credibility if we refuse to acknowledge a first class performance?

I'm not just talking about the keeper. The claim that Martinez has "stumbled across a good 11" is very harsh indeed. I'm never slow to criticise the manager if I think its called for, but come on... "stumbled on a good 11"???

Criticism and credit when it's due Guys, otherwise we risk our opinions becoming little more than predetermined stand points

Geoff Williams
155 Posted 15/01/2016 at 08:58:10
Tim Howard played well in making some crucial saves and deserves credit for this but I would say all the key saves were instinctive, reaction saves. I would have been very disappointed had he not made them. He didn't have time to think. He wasn't exposed to high balls which is his Achilles Heel. Chelsea will be a totally different game as they pride themselves on their use of set pieces.

I don't approve of the abuse he and others get but he has been in decline for some time and Robles should be given a fair chance to prove himself.

Brian Wilkinson
156 Posted 15/01/2016 at 10:16:07
I still say Robles should have played to give him game time for the Semi 2nd leg.

Howard had an excellent game, he may have an excellent game Saturday, then what? Does Bobby keep faith with Robles in the cup game, or does he play Howard?

If Robles is dropped for the semi-final, Bobby will take a bashing; if Robles plays but concedes goals, Bobby will again get a bashing for not sticking with Howard.

Bobby has put himself in a no-win situation for the cup game.

If ever Bobby needed those magic Brown Shoes, it surely has to be for the semi-final game.

Luke Osborne
157 Posted 15/01/2016 at 13:13:08
This season had fantastic promise at the beginning. I'm honestly surprised at our current position, and am baffled at our dreadful games played/games won ratio.

However... The last two games we played extremely well, against two very good sides, both of which could be seen as mounting a title challenge this season. Yes, if we draw against teams like Norwich and Bournemouth, we are never going to qualify for the Europa League, let alone the Champions League. But if we can avoid losses against teams like Spurs and Man City, we have hope still.

BTW: Congrats on a MotM performance Tim Howard. Showed all of us up. Well done.

Graham Mockford
158 Posted 15/01/2016 at 14:18:58

So basically what you are saying is don't blame Tim Howard blame John Stones, which is quite telling really.

If you actually read my post, you will see I am saying that mistakes by individual players are not the main reason for the goals we have conceded, but the system and tactics which have been deployed have made us extremely vulnerable to counter-attacks.

As I said, some of the reaction to Howard has verged on the hysterical but by no means has he been playing well, other than about three games. Although he has been better than last season when, to use Darren's nicely coined phrase, he was dogshit. We will see if he can carry on at the level of Wednesday.

As for younger players being error-prone... well, to some extent, that is what young players do; they are works in progress. But of course they only learn with experience. This is why many safety-first managers don't take the chance. To Martinez's considerable credit, and I am one who has some doubts about his tactical savvy, you cannot accuse him of not giving young players a chance and support.

James Marshall
159 Posted 16/01/2016 at 06:28:56
Why do supporters always lay claim to young players "making a great (insert position)?"

John Stones was a right back, and is now a world class centre half, yet people are claiming he'll be a better midfielder? I don't understand this way of thinking. He's a centre half, end of story.

Decent result and good for us psychologically, but I fear for the second leg in the cup if we go there again and try to play like that – we got away with murder and it won't happen a second time.

We need to be more adventurous as we were in the first leg if we want a result – if we get another clean sheet against them I'll eat my hat.

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