Writer: The Tuckster
Date:Sunday August 18 2013
So, finally the season is under way and we've picked up our first point of the campaign. I just wanted to have a little look at what went on and how we really fared against Everton.
Due to a combination of injuries and suspension,the Norwich City side that Chris Hughton was able to field here was arguably some way short of his best eleven while on the flip side, Roberto Martinez was able to field perhaps his strongest team.
Only two of the summer's new acquisitions started, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Nathan Redmond, while Martin Olssen watched from the bench. Leroy Fer was suspended (a legacy from his time at FC Twente) and Gary Hooper was not deemed fit enough, which is no surprise after the drama surrounding his shin last week.
On Saturday morning, Hughton was also dealt another injury blow as Robert Snodgrass failed a fitness test on a groin injury suffered mid-week against England - With Pilkington out and Seb Bassong not match fit as well, you can see it was a little short of our first eleven.
The game started in a similar way to my recollection of last season's home game against The Toffees with the visitors having a large amount of possession and City struggling to actually get the ball for the first five minutes or so.
In the centre of the park, Everton have some terrific ball players - Fellaini, Pienaar, Miralles and Osman as well as the brilliant prospect that is Ross Barkley in place of the injured Darron Gibson.
I watched Barkley for England U21s in mid-week and he was great then, albeit against sub standard opposition and he matched that performance here. He was lively, direct and played some good stuff.
He also scored a rocket of a goal from the edge of the area which Ruddy had no chance with - mark my words, this lad has a very bright future.
I mentioned those Everton midfield players above and it was very difficult for City to gain a foothold in the middle of the pitch against them. Fellaini won virtually every high ball there and Osman plays the quarter back role and keeps the ball ticking over, while Pienaar and Miralles were constantly probing forwards, supported by the full backs.
However, for all this midfield possession, I actually think that Everton didn't do enough with it. The stats show that we only had 33% possession of the ball and Everton still only managed six shots on target.
City only managed two but both ended up in the net. The first of which was a super individual effort from Steven Whittaker.
Whittaker played the full 90 minutes against England in mid-week and put in (in my opinion) a man of the match performance here. He opened the scoring early in the second half with perhaps the goal of his life. He picked up the ball mid-way inside his own half and started running, he went past a couple of players as he got to the edge of the Everton area. He beat Baines with a fortunate bounce and waltzed past Fellaini and suddenly he was in the area with just Howard to beat.
The lad is so confident with both feet that he curled the ball past Howard with the keeper well beaten. He was unlucky not to score there but the ball hit the inside of the post and rebounded back out to him before he thumped a fierce first time effort from a very tight angle. Take a bow, son.
Talking of Whittaker's ability with both feet, it's this which makes him so useful to us. He can play anywhere across the back and indeed, he played as left back for Scotland.
Another of our Scottish players, although I think he was born in Brighton, is Russell Martin. Martin played as a centre back, as he did for Scotland and I honestly think this is now his best position. He's no slouch as right back but time and time again he put his body in the way to block goal bound efforts - he made Turner look a little rusty, which after his injury troubles, he probably is.
Having John Ruddy back also makes a big difference and he inspires confidence from his team mates. He made some good saves here and was unlucky with the second goal after parrying Jelavic's effort. As I said he had no chance with Barkley's goal but late on he also made a great save point blank range from Naismith.
So what of our record signing, The Wolf?
My wife thought that he didn't have a huge impact but I think he showed enough to be very encouraged by. He isn't Grant Holt - he doesn't chase down lost causes and he isn't physical enough to be able to bully Distin or Jagielka, in fact they ate up most high balls, as you'd expect.
It was noticeable in fact that we didn't have a big man to hit with long balls when required. That man will be Leroy Fer though and I fully expect CH to play him against Hull next week. John Ruddy was looking to play the ball out from the back as he didn't have a big target on numerous occasions.
But back to RvW - despite not being as big as Holt he does like a tackle and he showed this when he put Miralles on his backside to keep the ball in play before it went out to Whittaker via Hoolahan for the first goal.
This boy will clearly need service and he didn't get enough of it in the game but when his one real chance came he took it in style. The mark of a good striker is their finishing and ability to take a chance. Steve Morison bemoaned the lack of chances in the Premier League and I remember him saying that you might only get one or two as a striker in a match.
Ricky got one and he took it. He got between the full back and centre back and guided a terrific header into the top corner after another surging run by Whittaker. His cross was actually a sliced shot but RvW was ready and gave Howard no chance.
The goal on his debut sent the crowd into raptures as Ricky punched the air in delight. The quality of the header was little short of brilliant and even impressed Alan Shearer, who was full of praise for the new man - he described his header as "magnificent."
City showed good character to come back after scoring the opening goal, arguably against the run of play and then losing two quick goals.
Before the game, a scoring draw against Everton would've been a result that I would've taken and I was thoroughly entertained by what I saw.
City weren't negative and were quick on the counter, mostly due to the impressive Redmond who showed quick feet and blistering pace throughout. But Elliot Bennett was also a threat and had one of his best games in a City shirt against very tough opponents.
Redmond looks to be, like Barkley, a real good young prospect. At times, he tried to do too much but at only 19, he will learn and CH will guide him.
As I said, earlier, I don't think that Everton did enough with all their possession and they look short of a really class striker. From what little I've seen, I would take RvW over Jelavic, Kone or Anichibe any day of the week.
Those sorts of quality strikers are box office and command the big fees and we, ladies and gentleman, look to have got one.
Date:Sunday August 18 2013
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