Romelu Lukaku is developing into the complete striker, Manuel Pellegrini’s team are going backwards and other things we learned from Everton 2 Manchester City 1
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Lukaku is a smart striker
The Premier League joint-top scorer not only headed in his 19th goal of the season – and 12th in his last 12 appearances – but gave the visiting defence the runaround with his presence and hold-up play. Initially Mmarked by centre-back duo Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi, Lukaku caused City huge problems in the first half by pulling off the Frenchman and taking him into areas he did not want to go. The introduction of Martin Demichelis at half-time did little to negate Lukaku’s threat. The striker has markedly improved his back-to-goal play this season and was the perfect foil for Everton’s midfield runners. He is developing into the complete centre-forward.
Pellegrini’s team are going backwards
Away from their Etihad Stadium comfort blanket, City are a bewilderingly mediocre team. This was yet another rope away performance in a season full of them. Without Vincent Kompany to hector and rally from the back, too many City players are going through the motions, happy to turn it on at home in favourable circumstances but struggling to produce the goods in more difficult assignments. A tilt in all four competitions cannot hide the fact that Pellegrini’s team have gone backwards this season.
Everton must be equally positive in the away leg
This was a deserved win for the home side. There was real tempo and urgency about their play as they took the game to their gilded visitors and preyed on their weaknesses, particularly at centre-back. Roberto Martinez’s team must be equally positive in the away leg at fortress Etihad if they are to have any hope of reaching the League Cup final and ending their 21-year trophy drought.
Mangala gets spooked too easily
For Odion Ighalo at the weekend, read Lukaku tonight. Put Mangala up against a powerful, mobile spearhead, particularly away from home, and he is like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Embarrassingly for the Frenchman, he was hooked at half-time and replaced by Demichelis. If Managala is the answer, then what is the question?
Besic proves more than a match for Toure
Abrasive, energetic and technically adroit, Muhamed Besic is enhancing his reputation by the week. From the moment the midfielder left Yaya Toure on his backside in the second half, Everton dominated this clash. In harness with the impressive Gareth Barry, Besic dominated the central acres and prevented City from generating a head of steam.