December 6, 2021

Hits and misses: Everton fly, Chelsea impress, City stumble

Spread the love

More defensive reinforcements still required by Man City?

preview image 3:01
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leeds’ draw with Manchester City.

“Maybe just have a penalty shootout at the end of the game?” suggested Gary Neville amid all the fun of the fair. It would have been a very apt way to decide the outcome of this delightful encounter at a damp and empty Elland Road. Without supporters to welcome the re-acquaintance of two of the game’s great thinkers, Manchester City and Leeds served up a treat.

Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa shared a touchline during their respective roles at Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona, but the last of those meetings came in the 2012 Copa del Rey final. An excessive dossier on his opponents proved futile that day for Bielsa as Barcelona ran out comfortable 3-0 winners – but while the Argentinian will have agonised over how to beat his apprentice this past week, in the end getting the point richly deserved proved fairly straightforward.

Ederson will not want to look back at the manner of Rodrigo’s gift-wrapped equaliser, but City’s brittle back line were exposed time and again down Mendy’s left flank. The Frenchman was eventually hooked and replaced by Nathan Ake, and it’s an area City must address in the coming days if they are to stand any chance of catching Liverpool.
Ben Grounds

Chilwell’s impressive debut shows his worth

preview image 2:59
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea’s win against Crystal Palace.

£50m for a left-back, even in today’s inflated transfer market, is a hefty fee and puts a spotlight on Ben Chilwell and what he’ll bring to Chelsea. But he made the perfect start in his Premier League debut for the club, scoring one and assisting another in their 4-0 win over Crystal Palace.

The clean sheet was another positive – although Chelsea will come up against far more adventurous attacks than Palace this season. But it was Chilwell’s all round play which offered encouragement that the young England international could thrive in his new surrounds of south west London.

No player on the pitch created more chances, while his 11 crosses and three interceptions were also game-highs.

After Marcos Alonso’s sloppy start to the season, Chilwell’s performance gave the impression Chelsea have found a significant – if expensive – upgrade.
Peter Smith

James has the blue half of Merseyside smiling

Everton v Brighton highlights new 2:59
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Everton’s win against Brighton.

There were a few mutterings when Everton spent £22m on Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez in September, but manager Carlo Ancelotti knew the benefits the Colombia playmaker would bring to his side were he to get the real James to turn up on Merseyside.

And boy has the Everton manager done that so far, with the 29-year-old producing another masterclass in his side’s 4-1 thrashing of Brighton on Saturday, a match which saw the new boy lay on a goal for compatriot Yerry Mina that put the hosts back in front, and then score twice in the second half to seal the Toffees’ win.

All of which means James has now had a hand in five goals in his just five games in all competitions this campaign (2 goals, 3 assists), two more than he managed in 14 appearances for Real last season (1 goal, 2 assists).

Not only that, but the player also scored two or more goals in a league game for the first time since March 2019, when he netted a hat-trick for Bayern Munich, so it is no wonder he is constantly smiling.

And so are Everton’s fans, who have seen their team win their opening four top-flight games for the first time since 1969-70, when they went on to win the league.

Next up for Carlo and Co? Only champions and city rivals Liverpool at home after the international break.

However, with James in this kind of form, who would bet against them making it five out of five when they return to action?
Richard Morgan

Individual errors cost Palace

Crystal Palace were rightly rueful of a dodgy handball call which cost them against Everton last weekend but they could only blame themselves on Saturday, after individual errors helped Chelsea to a 4-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

Mamadou Sakho was at fault for three of those goals. The centre-back miscued a clearance in the build-up to Ben Chilwell’s opener before being outjumped by Kurt Zouma for the second. He then tripped Kai Havetz for Jorginho to make it four with his second penalty. Young full-back Tyrick Mitchell had early tumbled Tammy Abraham for the first spot-kick.

Download the Pitch to Post Podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox | Spreaker

With boss Roy Hodgson sending Palace across London with a clear intent to sit back and hit Chelsea on the break when the opportunities arose, those types of mistakes were unaffordable. And when they arrived, they left Palace no way back.

It was a result which soured the mood for Palace going into the international break but an inviting run of games after the interval offers hope they can string a run of results together. But they’ll need to be far sharper than they were against Chelsea.
Peter Smith