It must be something in the psyche of everybody connected with Manchester City that means that all sorts of momentum previously built up is evaporated by a trip to Everton.
At the start of play on Saturday, Roberto Martinez’s side were on their worst run of Premier League form for a decade, but the champions could only manage a 1-1 draw.
One quick jaunt down the M62 and suddenly City look like they’ve only just met each other. Fernandinho headed home to give the visitors the lead but Steven Naismith struck to halt City and hand Chelsea a two-point lead at the top of the table.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Joe Hart, 6 — The England international made a couple of crucial saves from Romelu Lukaku breakaways, but there was a flash of the old Hart back for the equaliser. If a goalkeeper leaves his line, he has to win the ball. The No. 1 got nowhere near it, and Naismith made him pay.
DF Pablo Zabaleta, 7 — The Argentine was up and down the right flank tirelessly, and while he might not have seen as much of the ball in attacking positions as he does normally, he still made the run to create space for Jesus Navas. It was a brilliant tackle to set up the breakaway for the goal.
DF Eliaquim Mangala, 5 — Up against a powerful forward in Lukaku, the Frenchman struggled at times to keep him at bay, and on one occasion was bailed out by his goalkeeper. The defender was harshly penalised and booked for a brilliant recovery against the big Belgian, though.
DF Martin Demichelis, 7 — In the absence of Vincent Kompany, it’s no wonder the team turned to Demichelis for leadership. The Argentine was frequently in the right place at the right time to head away and he marshalled the back four well.
DF Gael Clichy, 6 — It wasn’t an easy afternoon for the left-back, but he was always comfortable in possession of the ball and put in some good tackles to keep Everton attacks at bay.
MF Fernando, 6 — It was a solid if unspectacular showing from Fernando. He and his fellow Brazilian teammate haven’t played together too often for the Blues but may have to in the absence of Yaya Toure. His passing was a little lax at Goodison but nothing to worry about.
MF Fernandinho, 6 — Some rash challenges on the edge of the City box gave Everton the chance to strike at goal with some free kicks, however, they came to nothing. Was in the right place to react to the deflection on David Silva’s shot, too.
MF Samir Nasri, 6 — Looked lively and always wanted to be the creator but it didn’t quite happen for him. On occasion, he took too many touches in trying to find a way through and it slowed the attack down.
MF David Silva, 8 — Head and shoulders above everybody else on the pitch, Silva is one player City can’t afford to lose. Everything they did came through him, and he was unlucky not to have done more damage to an Everton defence that was feeling fragile from recent performances.
MF Jesus Navas, 6 — Has really been coming into his own this season, but this wasn’t one of his better games. He was heavily involved and got into good crossing positions, but just couldn’t quite find a way past Leighton Baines or Gareth Barry, who seemed to always get a nick on his deliveries.
FW Stevan Jovetic, 4 — For a man who looks to be playing for his future at the club, Jovetic will have done little to persuade his manager that he’s the man to lead the line. His final pass and his shooting was off and he looked shot for confidence.
FW Sergio Aguero, 5 — (for Stevan Jovetic, 67) Got himself into good positions on the edge of the box, but was clearly rusty from his recent injury. Perhaps he wasn’t quite ready to be involved in this one.
MF Frank Lampard, N/R — (for Fernandinho, 81) The veteran came on to try to change the attack, but it was too late to have much effect on the game.
DF Aleksandar Kolarov, N/R — (for Samir Nasri, 90) Coming on as a late substitute, there was no time to mark the Serbian’s display.
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