Before I get into the actual Everton game yesterday, I at least wanted to mention how I watched the game. Not too long ago, I ended up dropping down from the top tier with DirectTV and as such lost BeIN which not only has the rights to La Liga (Real Madrid and Barcelona, etc.) but the League Cup. I wasn’t planning on watching the game but figured I’d poke around and see if there was an option (outside of going to a bar) and remembered FuBo.tv from the World Soccer Talk Podcast and figured I’d give it a shot. The sub costs $9.99/month here in the States (I have no clue about other countries and what’s available there) and covers quite a bit of European soccer, pretty much everything not tied to Fox or NBC. It also offers a free 24 hour trial, which is what I used to watch the game. Pretty good quality, mildly entertaining embedded chat, and overall a good experience and one I’d recommend if you’re interested in those other leagues. I haven’t looked too much more into it, but it is something that was quite intriguing to me that will warrant some more investigation.
As for the game itself, it was very typical of where Everton has been all year. So much promise and then the ship starts to spring a leak and never recovers. The opening goal should have been enough to seal the deal as that gave Everton a 2 goal cushion, and it was a significant goal for both sides. Barkely showed off his talent and flair with a slick turn and was able to bury that shot from distance. However, if I were a City fan I’d be rather upset that no one closed him down given his lethality from long range. Barkely certainly took advantage of the soft defending and made them pay, but City playing a weaker side to rest for other competitions had a hand in it too. After that though, it was all downhill for Everton as they just couldn’t do anything to release the pressure City were applying to them.
Let’s talk about those City goals a bit. That Fernandinho goal did take a wicked deflection to leave Robles helpless, but the non-existent back tracking by anyone in midfield was what gave him the room to get that shot off. They just let him wander down the field and set up in an easy spot to let go a dangerous shot. A barrage of opportunities then followed with a couple of posts included for good measure. Sure, Everton looked dangerous at times on the counter but all too often were a pass short and then left exposed in the back. While the De Bruyne goal clearly crossed the touch line (although the official was partially blocked by the net and on the other side of the field) I don’t think it would’ve made any difference if that goal was disallowed. Why it is such a fight to get technology that’s been proven elsewhere for a LONG time now I will never understand, but that’s a whole other topic. Everton wasn’t showing any sort of competent or structured defense and City inevitably would have found a way to at the very least tie the aggregate score. As for the Aguerro goal that sealed Everton’s fate, there was the hint of offsides but I think too close to call and I’m fine with that. What I’m not fine with is John Stones getting caught on the wrong side of the most dangerous man on the pitch. That just can’t happen at that point of the game.
As for Martinez, I’m not sure what to do there. I know he’s done a great job in getting this team to play exciting soccer and he’s attracted some great talent. But he really needs to figure out how to close some games out or this will be his last year at Everton, if he even makes it that far. I also don’t think he did himself any favors by ripping the referees. Sure, they missed a call but there was still LOTS of time left in that game for other things to happen. Even if you could both City goals as “bad” goals there’s still over 15 minutes left to do something. I didn’t have any problem with the gripes after the Chelsea game as that call did actually cost them the game (last touch of the game for a goal) but that did not happen in this case. It is very rare that a single call “costs” teams a game, and this clearly was not one of those games.
Finally, I did want to mention the Robles/DeBruyne scuffle that happened late in the game. I will admit that even after the first couple of replays I couldn’t see what happened to DeBruyne and assumed he had flopped (ala Diego Costa) and didn’t have any problem with Robles trying to get him up. However, it became evident that he really was hurt (reasonably seriously) as it was just one of those not too much contact causing the knee to go in directions it isn’t supposed to. I was impressed that not only did Robles make a point to see him off the pitch and talk to him while he was on the stretcher but also went to Twitter to express his apologies about his behavior.
Luckily Everton has an FA Cup tie over the weekend that shouldn’t put up the challenge anyone in the Premiere league would, but at this rate who knows what will happen. Some sort of turnaround (which I still think could happen) will be needed if they’re to get to any sort of credibility at years end with a hope of keeping this young core around.