Seven wins out of Nine
Everton's trip to The United (!) Stadium in Manchester to take on the financial might of Manchester City ended in disappointment as two second half goals from Super Mario Balotelli and James "I love the Villa" Milner put Everton, deservedly, to the sword.
Everton went into the match with a game plan to disrupt the millionaires whilst trying to set a few problems of their own for the arrivistes. Much of the plan went by the board as soon as the silky David Silva found the solution midway through the first half. His elusiveness proved too much for the determined Jack Rodwell and he drew a foul and a yellow card for the otherwise highly effective youngster, thereby dulling the plan and, to a large extent, negating his ability to stick close to the Spaniard. Further problems were to arrive when Silva produced his most telling moment as he completely conned the gullible arbiter Howard Webb into awarding a further yellow card to Phil Neville for being too close to the 'clever' opponent who pirouetted to the ground with theatrical aplomb. Say what you like about his considerable football skills but Silva showed he knows how to win a match by other means than beating his opponent. Quite disturbing too that Webb, showing clear signs of having failed to see the incident and no inclination to consult his assistant, felt compelled to believe the 40,000 odd spectators (a figure always difficult to ascertain given the home sides propensity to include those remarkable, invisible supporters occupying the blue spaces in the stands) rather than his own eyes. Nevertheless the tempo was now firmly set for City to gain the ascendancy and this they duly did. However it took until half way through the second half for the Millionaires to put the doughty Everton to the sword and they were grateful to a large slice of luck in opening the scoring as sub Balotelli's speculative effort from 25 yards took a wicked deflection off the excellent Phil Jagielka (who has made a habit of being an unfortunate deflector in recent years) for the opener.
Mr. Webb had one further opportunity to regally p**s off the visitors as he then denied Saha an obvious free kick for a body check on the edge of the City box - curious given that he felt compelled to book Osman for a similar but less cynical block on the opponent in a less dangerous position during the first half. One gets the distinct impression with Webb that he is lead by the crowd and the temperature of a match - that is to say you might reasonably have cause to argue that Everton, bereft of much in the way of creating chances, could easily have been pulling a fast one in Saha's fall on the edge of the box - except that in this instance they were not. It was left to Royston Drenthe to add the final note to a depressing scenario as a late loose pass was collected in the Everton half by City and another substitute, Milner, was given the simplest of tasks to put the game away. The sight of City's defence making a hash of a late, simple clearance, allowing Fellaini the opportunity to half the deficit in injury time - denied by a goal line clearance - still lends credence to my opinion that, despite having a potent attack, City still have much work to do at the other end of the pitch before they are to be considered fully capable of taking their Manchester rivals all the way in this season's title race.