Two things that stood out in Manchester City’s 1-1 draw with Everton

Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the match between Manchester City and Everton FC at Etihad Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the match between Manchester City and Everton FC at Etihad Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images) /
Manchester City Everton
Manchester City players look dejected after the match against Everton. (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images) /

Manchester City drew with Everton 1-1 at the Etihad stadium on Saturday. Erling Haaland scored for City in the 24th minute, but Everton equalized through Demarai Gray in minute 64.

City are now 4 points adrift of table-toppers Arsenal, who have 40 points from 15 matches and also have a game in hand. The draw came as a setback for Pep Guardiola’s side, who are aiming to win their fifth league title in six years.

Here are two keys to the match:

Everton defended dourly, but City scored in the first half

Manchester City took a little time to settle down and it was Everton who dominated the ball-possession for the first 8 to 10 minutes. Once City were able to find their rhythm, Everton had to put all their men behind the ball.

City started with a 4-3-3 formation, but it effectively became 3-4-2-1 with right-back Rico Lewis switching to midfield to play alongside Rodri.

Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva kept trading spots on the flanks, supporting Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish who played out wide, while Haaland was the lone front man.

Everton, meanwhile, opened with a 5-4-1 formation that made their intentions quite clear. It became obvious even before the match City would have to grind out a victory.

John Stones, Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake played as the back-three for City and each tried playing forward passes to either flank.

Rodri also kept spreading the ball out wide and played a few crosses into the box from the middle third while also trying to make use of Haaland’s formidable presence.

However, City were a bit too reliant on their left flank to launch their attacks initially. Grealish and Bernardo tried to break open the Everton defense on a number of occasions. Success came from the former, who made a lateral run to the middle of the pitch.

Prior to that, Ake had ventured forward with the ball and played it to De Bruyne, who played a one-touch pass to Grealish, who switched inside and played a pass to Mahrez on the right.

The Algerian winger dribbled past a defender into the box and then played a cross to Haaland, who finished first time with his right foot.

City should have got a second when Stones met De Bruyne’s wonderful delivery from a free kick, but his header only hit the post.

Ake’s forward runs were a constant feature in City’s attacks during the latter part of the half and Everton could only occasionally threaten with their sporadic counter-attacks.

Everton scored wonderful equalizer to frustrate Manchester City

Everton continued to launch occasional counter-attacks in the second half as well and got their goal through one of them. Rodri played a somewhat lazy pass that was intercepted by Everton and the ball was played to Gray.

Gray ran well into the Manchester City half as their defenders tried to mark Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who was already inside the box. This gave Gray enough time to prepare and take a shot that beat Ederson to hit the upper corner of the net.

The equalizer stunned City and they tried to respond in the best possible manner, with the tireless De Bruyne again in the thick of things.

However, Everton’s defense was impregnable, as each of Jordan Pickford, James Tarkowski and Seamus Coleman came up with commendable performances.

Guardiola then replaced Grealish, Lewis and Bernardo with Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan and Julian Alvarez, respectively in the 85th minute.

The substitutions were a touch too late, but they still had 15 minutes to make a difference, as 11 minutes were added in stoppage time to compensate for a technical snag that halted play for quite a while earlier in the half.

Foden made quite a few probing runs down the left flank and sent in a few crosses as well, but Pickford and his teammates kept City at bay.

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Rodri could have sealed the deal had he been able to connect on a cross played in from the right flank that was effectively the last kick of the match.