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Analysis: Phil Kirkbride on Everton FC’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City

DAVID SILVA probably felt like he had been forgotten about. In the corresponding fixture last season, Everton welded Jack Rodwell to the Spaniard as they went to Manchester City with the policy of containing the joint leaders in the Premier League.

DAVID SILVA probably felt like he had been forgotten about. In the corresponding fixture last season, Everton welded Jack Rodwell to the Spaniard as they went to Manchester City with the policy of containing the joint leaders in the Premier League.

They went to the Eithad Stadium with the intention of trying to suppress Silva and slowing the momentum of the home side by freezing their most creative player out of the game.

For the best part of 70 minutes, the Blues were so well organised, and Rodwell so disciplined, that they looked like travelling back down the East Lancs Road with a point.

A point which would’ve been well-earned but, given their tactics and approach, all they could realistically have hoped for.

Ultimately, all they came away with was a 2-0 defeat.

Fast-forward over 12 months and Everton got that point.

But where once there was pragmatism, there is now panache and poise.

Manchester City are not quite the imposing monster they were last season and Silva not in such wondrous form but the most significant change between these two teams has been in Everton.

If you needed a game to help chart the progress of the Blues over the last year and the shift in their horizons, then this will have provided sufficient evidence.

Everton not only finished the game on par with the reigning league champions but had chances and the belief to have gone and won the game.

This was no sort of ‘smash and grab’ raid, this was a draw between two sides who were as good as each other.

After the match David Moyes referred to a change in the “mental condition” of Everton from then, but there has also been a crucial tweak in personnel.

Where the Blues had Rodwell and Phil Neville as a conservative central midfield pairing in September last season, this weekend Everton not only had that protection for their back four but also craft and class from that area as well.

Darron Gibson and Leon Osman were excellent at the Etihad.

In the first-half when Everton played with fluency and intent – often a rarity at Man City with most sides barely seeing the ball – the partnership of Gibson and Osman was pivotal.

Such is the trust in Gibson to anchor the midfield and keep Everton moving with swift and accurate passing that Osman had the freedom to work in the space between midfield and defence.

Osman was able to help bring full-backs Leighton Baines and Tony Hibbert into the game as Moyes’ men took immediate control.

And in the second half when Everton needed to play with resilience and fight – often a necessity at Man City because you barely see the ball – Gibson and Osman were as strong as any defender in royal Blue on Saturday.

Moyes had hoped Osman’s England call-up last month would help the 31-year-old “kick on” in his Everton career.

And the tenacious way he went about battling with Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry in the heart of the battle on Saturday, suggests his time with the Three Lions has certainly done Osman no harm.

Osman’s international selection neatly sums up the changing outlook at Goodison Park from last season and the differing ambition with which they can approach these games.

Hopefully next season, Silva is in need of as little attention again.

 

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