Manchester City 1 Everton 1
Battle of the Blues
Monday 21st August 2017 : GYKO at the Etihad
For long periods, it looked as though Manchester City would be
frustrated here and indeed they may well be when they look back on
the match this week. Yet, in context, this was an important point
earned when all appeared to be going against them.
Pep Guardiola’s side dominated an effective but unadventurous
Everton, who in fairness, did not need to show much ambition once
Wayne Rooney, on his first return to Manchester, put them ahead
towards the close of the first half with his 200th Premier League
goal. Their advantage was strengthened minutes later in the
evening’s key incident, with Kyle Walker sent off for barging
youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
At that point, serious questions could have been asked about City’s
pre-season tag of title favourites but a late, sweet strike on the
volley from substitute Raheem Sterling salvaged what, even at this
early stage of the campaign, could prove to be an significant
comeback against a side that will test the rest of the top six
Guardiola was looking to avenge the heaviest league defeat of his
managerial career, which Everton inflicted at Goodison Park with a
4-0 triumph back in January. It was the highlight of Ronald Koeman’s
first season in charge and this summer has seen further cause for
optimism, with a raft of expensive signings. Their latest
acquisition, the £45m Gylfi Sigurdsson, started on the substitutes’
If Everton are to make good on a promising off-season, however, it
is games like this in which they need to pick up points regularly.
This was the first part of a run which will test the credentials of
Koeman’s side, with Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United
to follow. The 20-year-old Calvert-Lewin, named alongside Rooney in
attack, looked to get his side off to the best possible start but
cracked an effort from wide right wide of Ederson’s right-hand post.
It would be the visitors’ only sight of goal for a good while as
City assumed control, holding the ball for long periods of play in
the final third. Their problem was fashioning an opening. David
Silva and Sergio Aguero were, in particular, finding space but no
breakthrough. The latter should have pulled the trigger when played
through on goal just after the half-hour mark but instead dallied
and saw a prone Phil Jagielka clear Everton’s line. Aguero almost
atoned minutes later by creating an opening for Silva with a
delightful chipped pass but the Spaniard’s strike smashed against
It was all City but then it all fell apart. Guardiola’s full-back
overhaul this summer cost him £130m but his decision to deploy Leroy
Sane, a natural winger, in the position here cost him the first
goal. The youngster’s loose pass ceded possession to his opposite
number Mason Holgate who, amid some ramshackle City defending,
slipped Calvert-Lewin in with ease. The forward squared to find
Rooney, whose first-time finish deflected onto the post off
Ederson’s legs and rolled in.
After such dominance, City were one down and it would get worse
before half-time. Walker, on his home debut, had only just received
a booking when he barged into Calvert-Lewin while contesting a high
ball. The severity of the foul was debatable but the intent was
clear and Bobby Madley saw enough in it to issue Walker with his
Guardiola was incensed and spent the moments preceding the start of
the second half re-enacting the incident with fourth official and
reluctant participant Michael Oliver. The Catalan’s remaining 10
players tried to find a more proactive solution once play re-started
but they too were frustrated. City’s desperation was clear as early
as the 48th minute, when Pickford picked the ball up after a slide
tackle by Baines. The home players and support screamed for a
backpass but Madley rightly waved their frantic protests away.
Everton, by contrast, were composed to a man. Happy to cede
possession so long as they stayed compact and organised, they
restricted City to meek efforts from range. By the hour mark, Koeman
felt it safe enough to introduce Sigurdsson, whose first real action
saw him send in a devilish free-kick. Ederson rushed off his line to
punch it clear from danger.
City sent on one of their own new boys, Bernardo Silva, in response
and the £43m acquisition from Monaco had his side’s first effort on
goal for some time, limply shooting wide of Pickford’s left-hand
post after Aguero’s trickery. Another substitute, Sterling, should
have equalised moments later after more neat interplay but blazed
his effort over.
The hosts were turning the screw now and eventually their equaliser
came. Danilo’s cross from the left was dealt with by Ashley
Williams, but not sufficiently. His header only went as far as the
boot of Sterling, who seamlessly volleyed past a helpless Pickford
and into the bottom-left hand corner.
Level on the scoreboard, the two sides were soon level in terms of
personnel when with two minutes of regulation time remaining, Morgan
Schneiderlin received his second yellow card of the night for a late
tackle on Aguero. Again, Madley's decision was contentious. City now
smelled blood but could not cap off their comeback. A hard-fought
point would be all they would take.
Manchester City (3-5-2): Ederson; Otamendi, Stones, Kompany; Walker,
Fernandinho, De Bruyne, D. Silva, Sane, Jesus, Aguero.
Substitutes not used: Bravo, Danilo, Mangala, Toure, Foden,
Sterling, B. Silva.
Everton (3-5-2): Pickford; Keane, Williams, Jagielka; Holgate, Gueye,
Schniederlin, Davies, Baines; Rooney, Calvert-Lewin.
Substitutes not used: Stekelenburg, Mirallas, Martina, Sigurdsson,
Klaassen, Besic, Lookman.
Referee: Robert Madley (West Yorkshire) att
Brighton 0 Manchester City 2
Saturday 12th August 2017 : Vince Taylor for
GYKO at the Ammex Stadium
& Hove Albion, this was one of those scenarios when the age-old
saying about sport’s value being in the taking part rang true. It
was never likely to be about the winning, not against Premier League
favourites with all the massed qualities that Manchester City bring.
In some ways it is no bad thing this one is ticked off now. Brighton
can get on with the task in hand with a different kind of focus.
City were not at their slickest but still possessed more than enough
finesse to dominate, cruise through the game and pick up three
points thanks to two late goals.
Pep Guardiola’s satisfaction to begin the campaign with an exercise
in control and a straightforward win was clear. They did everything
required, with gallons of potential in the tank. But do not go
reading too much into it now.
“Last season I was sitting here after the Sunderland game and you
said: ‘You are the favourites, most beautiful, handsome and nice
guys in the league.’ And after, you know what happened last season?
Chelsea killed us,” he said. “OK, we accept what the people say but
all we have to try is to improve and improve.”
The speed of their attacking patterns is an area he wants to tweak,
and it was notable how many dynamic players were in reserve. What a
bench – Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling came on for
Guardiola was pleased to see his defence was relatively untroubled.
The presence of Vincent Kompany always makes a difference, Kyle
Walker slotted in comfortably and his fellow summer signing, Ederson,
in goal, had only one nerve-wracking moment to contend with.
Brighton could have been handed a gentler first course at English
football’s top table. Perhaps a Watford or Huddersfield or Burnley
or so the stereotype would have it … As it turned out the highly
tuned and luxuriously reinforced ambition of Guardiola’s City
ensured the excitement was mixed with an understandable dose of
The chasm in terms of resources was made plain by the fact City’s
new collection of full-backs cost more than the funds raised to
construct the Amex Stadium, but it was the football gap Brighton
were keen to mind.
First of all they had to master their own nerves. The sense of heady
occasion, the mark of history, all the anticipation that had gripped
this part of the south coast seemed to weigh heavily on the Brighton
players for the first 20 minutes. Chris Hughton was conscious that
this was a special day, and a tricky one for his players to manage
“It’s understandable,” he said. “Today was very much a club day.
This club had a very difficult history – there were a lot of
supporters here who were not able to come not so long ago. Our first
game in the Premier League was going to be a big occasion but the
fact Man City were coming made it even bigger.”
The return of top-flight football for the first time since 1983, and
the depths of their plummet in the meantime, meant emotions were
charged as this boisterous crowd rubbed their eyes and welcomed this
big step with spine-tingling noise.
Making inroads against City was not the priority. Containment was.
Their illustrious opponents hugged the ball, retaining possession
for long stretches.
David Silva’s creative spark shone. Gabriel Jesus had flashes in the
spotlight in search of a breakthrough. On one occasion the Brazilian
caught the ball at speed and it bounced off his leg and scooped off
his arm and in. Michael Oliver, the referee, immediately spotted the
infringement and there was no question of a goal.
City stepped up a gear after the break and the crowd held its
collective breath for an Agüero-must-score moment. He opened up his
body and looked set for a deadly finish but his shot was strangely
Then Brighton found another gear of their own. Shane Duffy stabbed
in a shot. Lewis Dunk came close and when the ball pinballed out to
Davy Pröpper the Dutchman lashed wide.
The pendulum swung back as City regained momentum and began probing
again. De Bruyne carved room for himself to strike with ferocity.
The ball hit Dunk’s hand and despite City’s protestations the
official showed no inclination to award a penalty.
The visitors would not wait long to clinch the points, though. When
Dale Stephens lost possession City broke with clinical precision.
Kevin De Bruyne clipped the ball to Silva, whose cute first- touch
pass was threaded perfectly for Agüero. The ball was guided past
Ryan with unerring cool.
There would be no way back for Brighton when City doubled their lead
three minutes later as Dunk turned Fernandinho’s cross into his own
Brighton and Hove Albion: Ryan, Duffy, Saltor, Grau (Murphy (24’)
Suttner, Dunk, Stephens, Brown, Pröpper, March (Knockaert 77’) Groß,
Hemed (Murray 60’)
Unused subs Sidwell, Mäenpää, Hünemeier, Rosenior
Manchester City: Ederson, Otamendi, Stones, Kompany, Walker, De
Bruyne, Danilo (Sane 66’), Silva, Fernandinho, de Jesus (Sterling
78’), Agüero (Bernardo 83’)
Unused subs Touré, Foden, Bravo, Mangala
Referee Michael Oliver Attendance