Featured Matches
Previous
Lille
FC Porto
ESPNDeportes 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
NK Maribor
Celtic
6:45 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Standard Liege
Zenit St Petersburg
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Stjarnan
Internazionale
9:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Fulham
Wolverhampton Wanderers
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Colorado Rapids
Los Angeles Galaxy
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Seattle Sounders FC
San Jose Earthquakes
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
AaB
Apoel Nicosia
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Lille
FC Porto
ESPNDeportes 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
NK Maribor
Celtic
6:45 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Slovan Bratislava
BATE Borisov
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Standard Liege
Zenit St Petersburg
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Hajduk Split
4:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Stjarnan
Internazionale
9:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Fulham
Wolverhampton Wanderers
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Livingston
Heart of Midlothian
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Colorado Rapids
Los Angeles Galaxy
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Seattle Sounders FC
San Jose Earthquakes
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
DC United
Waterhouse
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
CD FAS
Montreal Impact
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Nacional Potosí
Libertad
9:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
UTC
Deportivo Cali
9:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
General Díaz
Cobresal
11:15 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Peñarol
Wilstermann
11:15 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Deportivo La Guaira
Atlético Nacional
1:30 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
River Plate
Colón de Santa Fe
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Guadalajara
Zacatepec
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Puebla
Necaxa
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Altamira
Queretaro
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
At. San Luis
Monterrey
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Veracruz
Lobos BUAP
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Figueirense FC
Botafogo
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Santos FC
Atletico Paranaense
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Sport
Palmeiras
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Bahia
Criciúma
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Coritiba FBC
EC Vitória
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Chapecoense AF
Fluminense FC
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Flamengo
Atlético MG
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Internacional
São Paulo
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Western Sydney Wanderers
Guangzhou Evergrande
0
0
LIVE 8'
Leg 1
Game Details
Pohang Steelers
FC Seoul
10:30 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Free State Stars
SuperSport United
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Bidvest Wits
Maritzburg Utd
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Chippa United
Pretoria Univ
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Moroka Swallows
Mamelodi Sundowns
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Mpumalanga Black Aces
Silver Stars
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Orlando Pirates
Amazulu
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Saprissa
Santos
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Sky Blue FC
Houston Dash
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Next

Summer transfers survey: Everton

Everton Jul 8, 2014
Read

End of season review: Everton

Everton May 13, 2014
Read

Everton end fine season in style

Everton May 12, 2014
Read

O'Farrell: Barry Must Stay

Luke O'Farrell May 10, 2014
Read
May 4, 2014

Barkley shines amid a tactical misfire

Despite the prematch and subsequent postmatch nonsense, it was clear that this was just another home game for Everton. That the Blues slipped to a 3-2 defeat against Manchester City owed more to a tactical gamble backfiring, rather than a lack of effort (or any other word the conspiracy theorists care to use).

The idea that Everton did not try or that supporters did not care is absurd. Anyone believing otherwise should double-check the reactions of the players and crowd alike after Ross Barkley's outstanding opener, or witness the sense of urgency when Romelu Lukaku headed home a second-half lifeline.

Shorn of the controlling midfield presence of Gareth Barry, the creative talents of Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar, and with Sylvain Distin only fit enough for a place on the bench, Roberto Martinez attempted to compensate by employing a back three.

Unfortunately, for Everton, the defence, so often the reliable constant in this team, became a disjointed shambles thanks to this tactical tweak. For a man easily outfoxing Arsene Wenger and David Moyes in recent weeks, this was a rare misfire for Martinez. - Brewin: Three things -- Everton vs. Man City - Macintosh: Everton play to win no matter what Aside from the excellent Barkley and the dependable James McCarthy, the players rarely looked comfortable in the new system. The three-man defence began well enough, outnumbering City's two-man attack, but the visitors found gaping holes and exposed various flaws as the match wore on.

Although favoured by Martinez at Wigan, the back-three approach does not suit the players currently at his disposal. Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman, the two best attacking full-backs in the league, are wasted as wing-backs, with their workload doubled and their attacking threat diminished.

Their success is built on attacking the space in front of them. At wing-back, they are already in that space, which is one of the reasons Coleman struggled when David Moyes used him as a right-sided midfielder. Furthermore, the pair thrive with a creative player ahead of them, one they can work in tandem with, and this system does not allow for that.

Those two aside, the real problems materialised in the three-man defence. Phil Jagielka, rustier than a ship's nail on his return from injury, was a hapless passenger throughout, in close proximity for each of the City goals but not close enough to prevent them, while Antolin Alcaraz floundered without the security of Baines alongside him.

Sergio Aguero exposed Alcaraz's lack of pace for his first-half equaliser, before departing through injury. However, it was an injury that hurt Everton more than City (in the context of this match, obviously). The visitors' switch to a five-man midfield saw the home side return to a back four, but that created its own problems. John Stones, the only one at ease in the three-man defence, moved to right back, and Coleman operated as a right-sided midfielder. Stones' poor positional sense at full-back surfaced for the third City goal.

Rising above the malaise by considerable distance, though, was Barkley. From the opening goal, easily the best of the five scored in the match, to the galloping run forward that presented Steven Naismith with a golden chance to level the game in the second half, the World Cup hopeful was a class above in front of the watching Roy Hodgson.

There was an uncanny resemblance to a certain Wayne Rooney goal against Arsenal, yet this strike was better. There was no first touch, no touch to steady himself, this was thundered beyond Joe Hart at the first time of asking.

Suffering of late, with injuries hampering and form evading, this was Barkley at his expressive best, spraying the ball around the pitch, ghosting past those in white, leading a one-man quest for a point or three.

Aiding him in this quest was James McCarthy. If McCarthy does not win one of the club's end-of-season awards, whether it is player of the season or young player of the season, it would be a travesty. There are no superlatives left to describe his performances or impact on the team this season.

Alas, in spite of their efforts and the efforts of their teammates, Everton signed off their home campaign with a defeat, though the blow is softened by other results confirming fifth place and the return of European football next season. This result, though disappointing, does not detract from the impressive work of a manager and squad supposedly undergoing a season of transition.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.