Robin Sainty: It’s only right to share the praise after Goodison win
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Inevitably, and quite rightly, much that has been written about City’s Goodison Park renaissance has centred around the return of Christoph Zimmermann, but it’s important to salute two squad players who both made significant contributions.
Dennis Srbeny has been around for a long time without making a big impression, but has always come across as a model professional, keeping his head down and working hard, so I don't think any City fan would begrudge him his moment of glory on Saturday, and it couldn't have come at a better time with Josip Drmic ruled out until after Christmas and Adam Idah still learning his trade.
Sam Byram is a rather different proposition, a player who has yet to fulfil the enormous early potential he showed at Leeds, but who produced one of the most composed City debuts of recent years when he was thrown in at the deep end against Manchester City and proceeded to tame Raheem Sterling, who was coming off a rampant performance for England.
After another excellent showing at Goodison it is now quite clear that he must be seen as much more than simply a back-up to City's young full-backs and will provide just the sort of selection headache that Daniel Farke will be happy to have after so many weeks of having to fit square pegs into round holes.
Zimmermann's return was obviously crucial, but the real tactical triumph for Farke was the selection of two holding midfield players which not only provided the protection needed to help the giant centre back to bed back in, but also did nothing to detract from City's ability to break with purpose because the more defensive selection encouraged Everton to commit more players forward and so leave more space for City to exploit.
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The extra security behind them also meant that Kenny McLean, Todd Cantwell and Onel Hernandez were able to get closer to Teemu Pukki much more quickly when City broke and it is no coincidence that the Finn had his most effective game for some time as a result.
All three attacking midfielders were excellent and showed that City can still be creative without Emi Buendia. Cantwell was quite rightly singled out for analysis by Match of The Day as his was a complete performance, from his intelligent run and cool finish for the opening goal to the lung-bursting sprint to get back and tackle Morgan Schneiderlin when Everton were on the break.
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He really is a star in the making, but it was also good to see Buendia come on and play a key role in the second goal. He won't suffer at all from being removed from the firing line.
I have been hoping to see McLean in a more advanced role for some time and he didn't disappoint as his work rate and strength in the air meant that City's defenders always had a potential release ball that didn't simply mean surrendering possession as has been the case so often when they've been forced to go long this season.
With confidence once again coursing through Canary veins it will be interesting to see whether Farke sticks with the same formula on Sunday against an Arsenal team now minus a manager.
There is no doubt that the Gunners have high quality in the final third but the number of times that their back four and midfield were caught in possession against Southampton last week will have given a City side who were starting to recover their high press at Goodison plenty of encouragement.
Arsenal strike me as a side who expect to be given the time to play but don't react well to being pressured. Certainly they are far from watertight at the back so I hope that City will look to get on the front foot from the start in an atmosphere which should be electric.