Everton’s mixed start to the season continued with a 2-0 defeat at Manchester City which, although no disgrace, illustrated quite clearly the struggle now faced by David Moyes’ Toffees to continue hanging on to the coattails of the top sides.
Football Burp looks at three Blues who impressed this weekend and three Blues who need to up their game…
Sylvain Distin – A near-immaculate performance from a player who has for some time now outshone his more celebrated centre-back partner Phil Jagielka. At 33, the Frenchman is still as strong as an ox and is very rarely beaten for pace, although he remains prone to the odd scuffed clearance. Overall though he certainly didn’t deserve to be on the losing side against his old club.
Jack Rodwell – The 20 year-old midfielder has flattered to deceive over the last year and looked like being upstaged by Ross Barkley in the first few games of the season, but stuck to his task of man-marking David Silva with aplomb until the Toffees had to chase the game after falling behind to an unfortunate deflection. Had looked like becoming a more attacking option at one point but Saturday’s performance indicates that he may yet fulfil Moyes’ prediction that he will blossom into a very good defensive midfielder, which seems to make more sense anyway given his upbringing as a centre-back.
Apostolos Vellios – Although only appearing as a late substitute, the 19 year-old Greek centre-forward made another impressive cameo to add to his match-winning intervention against Wigan Athletic last week and a prior, near-match-winning intervention against Aston Villa. Looks to be hard-working and good on the ball as well as a good director of his headers, he is on current form Everton’s most impressive performer up front but Moyes might not want to risk him in Saturday’s Merseyside derby.
Phil Jagielka – Yet another shaky performance from a player who’s cost his side a goal or two already this season with the kind of lapses of concentration which, prior to his long absence with a knee injury incurred in 2009, used to be so few and far between. Whether that injury has left him a poorer player or his head was turned by speculation linking him with Arsenal, Jagielka needs to find some form fast if he is to remain in Fabio Capello’s thoughts.
Phil Neville – Was the hub of the Toffees’ bright opening ten minutes but faded badly after that and showed why he has been out of the side of late. Arguably a necessary inclusion due to the nature of the opposition but Neville’s presence in midfield is rarely a heartening one for the Goodison Park faithful and Saturday again demonstrated that, for all his endeavour, Neville lacks the class to be a permanent consideration in midfield. He will as an experienced pro likely start the derby but he looks to have been usurped by the resurgent Tony Hibbert at right-back and is only conducive to a backs-to-the-wall job in midfield.
Tim Cahill – Not his fault that he’s been selected up front for the last couple of games but, like Neville in midfield, he should in no way be a first-choice in the position. The Australian lacks the movement and, for all his aerial ability, the presence to really trouble defences that high up the pitch and it has to be hoped that Louis Saha’s return to the fold is a successful one. Should it not turn out to be, those sales of Jermaine Beckford and Yakubu will start to look really rather damaging.
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