The players, manager and fans were bang up for this one and I always had a feeling it could be a special night. Moyes set the tone in his pre-match programme notes, suggesting that Manchester City had behaved improperly last summer over their ugly pursuit of Jolene Lescott, and earlier in the week had called for the fans to make it a memorable night at Goodison with a lot of noise from the word go.
They didn’t dissapoint and place was rocking from the first whistle. The players were committed, determined and desperate to win. They chased every ball, tackled like men possessed and showed real quality in possession. City started confidently and had a couple of decent chances, as Tim Howard palmed away a Petrov drive and then Robinho fired over from a good position inside the box. But after that it was all Everton as the blues dominated and created chance after chance infront of the Park End.
Landon Donovan continued where he left off against Arsenal and was again impressive. He has pace, is good on the ball and gives Everton a good outlet down the right hand side. He went close to opening his account for Everton, lifting the ball over Shay Given only to see it drop the wrong side of the post, but for me his workrate was the most impressive thing about his performance. He has immediately grasped how Everton play and works his socks off, chasing lost causes and turning them into corners and chances. He’ll do well at Everton.
Bily also went close, driving inches over from the edge of the box and then shooting just wide from a decent position. He looked lively and up for the fight, also making some vital tackles and interceptions, and used the ball well when he had it.
The real stars of the game though were Pienaar and Fellaini. More on the Belgian later, but Pienaar, playing in center midfield was superb, using the ball intelligently and moving Everton forward in a way that we’ve come to expect from him. The South African capped a great performance with the opening goal, expertly curling home a low free kick beyond Shay Given and then running to hug a quite bewildered looking steward who didn’t seem to know what was going on! Great goal though.
Everton looked solid at the back with Distin retuning to the side alongside the impressive looking Heitinga and aside from the chance for Robinho, they dealt with everything City threw at them, which admittedly was not much. Baines and Neville were fantastic at full back though and got forward at every opportunity. That was crucial to stopping City’s game plan of attacking down the flanks through Petrov and Bellamy.
Just before half-time, Everton grabbed a second after Micah Richards pulled Saha’s shirt and the Frenchman put it straight down the middle, sending Given the wrong way. It was no more than Everton deserved and they were even more dominant in the second half, attacking the Gwlady Street end.
Man-of-the-match was easily Marouane Fellaini. He’s gone from a rather cumbersome looking player with a good touch who’s useful at set pieces, to the complete midfielder. His was one of the most commanding and impressive performances that I’ve seen at Goodison for ages. He was absolutely everywhere and looks faster, stronger, fitter... ten times the player of last season. Don’t get me wrong, he’s done well in his Everton career so far for a young lad coming to a new country, but he’s just got so much better in the last couple of months.
He peaked against City though, winning tackle after tackle and always choosing the right pass. He capped it all with this amazing piece of skill, taking the ball away from Bellamy and spinning away in one impressive move before laying it off casually as the whole stadium rose to its feet. Absolutely brilliant.
He almost got the goal he deserved with a powerful header that was tipped onto the bar by Given. Tim Cahill then rattled the woodwork with another header after good work by Leighton Baines.
It could have been four but in the end Everton were comfortable at 2-0 and thoroughly deserved the win. I can only imagine how well we could play with a midfield of Arteta, Fellaini, Pienaar and Bily, with Cahill just infront. Throw Jack Rodwell into the mix and we really do have some great options in the middle of the park.
Things are certainly looking up and we can confident going into games against the likes of Liverpool and Sporting Lisbon. I see no reason why the blues can’t go on a great run and get close to the top 6, while doing well in the cups.
Great performance and a night to remember.