Match Reviews: Everton v Sunderland and Manchester City v Reading

26 November 2007

Well it's another night and time for more weekend match reviews. Tonight I take a look at another two fixtures from Saturday. Tomorrow I'll finish off the Saturday games and Tuesday will be the night the Sunday games will be reviewed. In the meanwhile expect another set of rants to hopefully come up in the morning.

Everton v Sunderland: Sunderland's central defense was an absolute embarrassment, as doubles from Yakubu and Tim Cahill, along with goals from Steven Pienaar, the returning Andrew Johnson, and Leon Osman made Roy Keane's visit to Goodison Park one he will want to forget as Sunderland were simply destroyed 7-1. Dwight Yorke got one back before halftime to throw Sunderland a lifeline to start the second half, but Everton's pressure was just too much.
There really is only one thing negative to say about Everton's performance. That being Tim Howard didn't look at his best in goal. Granted he only really had four situations to deal with, but when your putting yourself in a bad position after parry saves, you have to be thankful for your supporting cast. Arteta showed why this team is special with him and average without him with his play on the wing. It was amazing to see how Everton were able to turn Sunderland's back four with relative ease. Sunderland to be quite frank have to replace Higginbotham and McShane and if they don't have the depth to do it now, they better get someone in January. Route one football should be the easiest to defend and Sunderland made mistakes of it three times. You can't even fault Craig Gordon for five of the seven goals. The midfield didn't have any time on the ball. However the few times they did, Sunderland did make Tim Howard work. There are building blocks for the future, but it means nothing unless the central defense gets better.
Defining Moments

Minute 5: Steven Pienaar with the game's first chance. Pienaar turns Whitehead and McShane, but pulls his shot well wide of the near post. Has to do better with the space he was given.
Minute 7: McShane and Higginbotham with desperate defending after Arteta plays a great cross to Yakubu. Yakubu sees Cahill in plenty of space from ten yards out. However McShane and Higginbotham are able to get in before Cahill blasts one with pace past Gordon. Cahill should have never seen that much space in the penalty area to begin with.
Minute 12: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL YAKUBU. Off a Tim Howard goal kick, Paul McShane misses the ball entirely trying to kick the ball. Yakubu beats Higginbotham before allowing two hops, a settling touch and shooting goal bound and in. The irony to the goal is had Higginbotham not slid in and deflected the ball, Gordon would have had a chance at making the save. Two mistakes led to this goal, the failed clearance from McShane off the goal kick and then Higginbotham allowing Yakubu to blow right by. Everton 1 Sunderland 0.
Minute 17: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL TIM CAHILL. Quick free kick taken by Everton off a Sunderland offside. Yakubu finds Arteta on the wing who turns Harte before flicking onto Neville. Neville then crosses onto Arteta who collects, turns and scores central from eight yards out. Arteta had McShane and Whitehead on him, but only McShane made an attempt to block the shot, and it was half-hearted at best. Poor marking by Sunderland led to this one. Everton 2 Sunderland 0.
Minute 21: Yakubu gets two chances on goal from inside the penalty area, but McShane blocks both shots. Again scramble defending from Sunderland and not the variety you want to see from a central defender.
Minute 24: Sunderland should have pulled one back. Edwards crosses onto the far post, and Howard only gets a weak fist to it. Grant Leadbitter gets his head to ball and puts it into the side netting. Howard doesn't make many mistakes of that ilk and Leadbitter with an open net has to score. It was really the first time Howard was called into action and it he looked shaky at best.
Minute 30-31: Ian Harte gets three chances from corner kicks, but his final touch to Paul McShane is headed wide of goal. The final product from McShane should have been flicked on into the fray instead of heading himself on goal.
Minute 43: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL STEVEN PIENAAR. Sunderland are dispossessed in the midfield and Valente plays onto Pienaar. Pienaar then plays a one-two with Valente before slicing his shot far post and in. The one-two pulls McShane out of position and Pienaar gets past Higginbotham and Yorke before putting his shot on goal. Gordon would have never been able to save that shot as it sliced away from Gordon into the upper ninety. Possession was given away way too cheaply in the midfield and when Everton break, the look more likely to score than miss altogether. Everton 3 Sunderland 0.
Minute 45+2: GOAL SUNDERLAND GOAL DWIGHT YORKE. The cross in from Leadbitter is parried away by Howard. The ball lands at the feet of Grant Leadbitter who's shot is palmed out by Howard. Jones then sees Yorke on running and passes back as Yorke with pace fires home past Howard near post. Had Howard parried the first shot out for a corner, or even caught it, Sunderland don't get a chance. Even still, Lescott has to clear the second shot clear. When teams get a third chance, they normally don't miss. Everton 3 Sunderland 1.
Minute 58: Yakubu takes the ball forty yards out. Turns McShane and makes Higginbotham his personal friend. However he rushed the shot when he still had space to run in and goes wide of the near post. The only thing you can fault there was the final touch.
Minute 62: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL TIM CAHILL. Howard lays off to Joseph Yobo who goes route one all the way to Tim Cahill. Again, and this isn't a recording, Paul McShane isn't able to get the ball and Cahill is there. After four bounces, and seeing Gordon starting to go down, Cahill pokes the ball under Gordon and in at the far post. McShane has to be taken off as this is the second time he has misjudged a ball in the air that has led to a goal. Either way, good take from Arteta as he showed patience in waiting for the right moment to shoot. Everton 4 Sunderland 1.
Minute 64: Michael Chopra has absolutely no excuse for missing the near post. Howard out of position trying to save the ball off the feet of Jones and Valente wasn't turned to block. Chopra then puts too much pace on the shot and is well wide of the near post from four yards out. Talk about a case of simply trying way too hard.
Minute 73: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL YAKUBU. Craig Gordon with a great quick reaction save to deny Leon Osman thanks to a touch by Higginbotham for a corner. Off the corner, taken short, Arteta in space finds Osman who's shot is blocked by Gordon. McShane or Jones are unable to clear and Yakubu is there to turn and fire past an unsuspecting Craig Gordon. Again there is just something about the center of Sunderland's defense that fails them as that ball should have been cleared not once, but twice. The fact Yakubu is able to turn and shoot is just shocking. Everton 5 Sunderland 1.
Minute 80: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL ANDREW JOHNSON. Unreal stuff. Third route one ball and really the ball was a clearance from Phil Neville. Johnson kept McShane off the ball very well. Gordon comes out way too far and Johnson just flips the ball over Gordon and in going far post. McShane has to do better trying and play the ball and you really can't fault Gordon for trying and clear the ball himself. Everton 6 Sunderland 1.
Minute 85: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL LEON OSMAN. My friends this is a goal that should be in goal of the season mention. Osman takes the ball on the center line. Osman doesn't shoot until the penalty spot. In the meanwhile, Osman turns past Higginbotham, freezes McShane in his cleats and sees Leadbitter make a half hearted tackle that was never going to get the ball. Osman then sees Gordon leaning far post and goes more center near post than anything else and it was always going in. Can someone please explain to me why no one and I mean absolutely no one bothered to try and defend that? Completely pathetic from Sunderland as they already had thoughts on how bad Keane was going to give it to them in the locker room. Instead they only added more fuel to that fire. Everton 7 Sunderland 1.
Minute 88: Yellow Card Paul McShane. That was simply McShane taking frustration out on Steven Pienaar.

Manchester City v Reading: A late wonder volley from Stephen Ireland saw Manchester City keep it's perfect start at the City of Manchester Stadium. In a game that Manchester City controlled from the start, Reading saw a late first half equalizer from nothing. In the end, with all the ball control from Manchester City, they were worthy winners on the day where not many chances were scored...winning 2-1.
I think people have to finally realize that Manchester City plays with either two styles of play. The one style is their counter attacking style forcing teams into mistakes, that they do very well. The other style is the one we saw today where the opponents force City into beating them at their own game, and that they are still having difficulty with. It's almost like Manchester City are afraid to push forward or link up with Petrov and Mpenza up front. Sometimes you just have to trust your attackers and let them do their job. The back four with the exception of five seconds played very well and the midfield did well to keep the ball.
Something about Reading today that puzzled me was the fact they looked scared to close down in the midfield and spring counters. The back looked out of place at times and Hahnemann thankfully didn't have much to do, or it could have been a long day for the Royals. It also doesn't help that you waste free kick opportunities in good areas or that you only create one legitimate chance from open play. What is also sad is that this is pretty much the same team, minus Steve Sidwell. This is what happens when you lose the glue that keeps your team together.
Defining Moments

Minute 7: Bobby Convey off a Reading free kick with a crack on goal from 22 yards. However Convey rushes the volley when he could have settled and the result is well wide of the near post.
Minute 11: GOAL MANCHESTER CITY, GOAL MARTIN PETROV. Kevin Doyle dispossessed by Corluka in the midfield who feeds the ball to Ireland. Ireland's centering pass finds Elano who's first effort hits the far post, has his second effort blocked off Hahnemann. Mpenza gets a shot on goal blocked by Hahnemann, and it's Petrov who is there to finish the job. Doyle gave up possession way too easily in the midfield and the failure of Murty to clear the ball off the second block didn't help matters either. Still it shouldn't have taken four attempts for Manchester City in that sequence to score. Manchester City 1 Reading 0.
Minute 43: GOAL READING, GOAL JAMES HAPRER. Off a Hahnemann goal kick. Dave Kitson finds Kevin Doyle. Doyle's pass to Shorey is blocked by Dunne but comes right back to him. Doyle finds Convey central and Convey finds James Harper following on. The flick on from Convey to Harper sets him up perfectly and scores sending the ball central near post. Garrido should have dealt with Harper's shot and he didn't bother trying to block it. Totally against the run of play that goal was. Manchester City 1 Reading 1.
Minute 50: Yellow Card Stephen Hunt. Late challenge from behind on Fernandes Gelson. The studs went into the upper leg and while it didn't look rash, I've seen easier tackles get red. It was at least a yellow card offense and rightfully given.
Minute 58: Kitson gives up a bad free kick after getting caught behind Hamann. However Petrov's shot ends up right at Hahnemann. It looks to have taken a deflection off of Ingimarsson. Either way it wasn't a well taken free kick from a spot where he should be giving the keeper some problems.
Minute 65: Geovanni turns Gunnarsson and from 22 doesn't miss the bottom of the crossbar by much. Not a bad half chance considering there haven't been many to discuss.
Minute 71: Petrov with a great pass to Samaras, but Hahnemann is strong to the task and makes a sliding save of Samaras's shot. Samaras did have to stretch for that shot and you wonder if he would have gotten a better shot off had he not had to stretch.
Minute 78-79: Stephen Hunt pushed by Garrido for a free kick to Reading 19 from the end line. The free kick is wasted in glorious fashion by James Harper as it goes right to Isaksson without anyone making a play on the ball. Shorey should have taken that free kick.
Minute 85: Yellow Card Shane Long. Late tackle after Sun Jihai had already played the ball on. Always going to be a card and he knew it when he went in.
Minute 90: Convey does well to earn Reading a corner. However the corner doesn't clear the first man and Manchester City clear.
Minute 90+2: Geovanni gets in behind Sonko, but blasts the shot over the crossbar from fifteen out. That should have been the game winner and he knew it.
Minute 90+4: GOAL MANCHESTER CITY, GOAL STEPHEN IRELAND. The ball forward finds Geovanni's head. The pass from Geovanni to Ireland was simply perfect and Ireland on the volley finds the near post. That was just nothing more than a perfect volley that no keeper in the world was going to save. Shorey was closest to Ireland, but even he had to not think that volley would be so perfectly struck. Talk about late escapes! Manchester City 2 Reading 1.

Until I write again, may the debate begin!

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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