The figures most associated with Manchester City tend to come with pound signs in front of them, but the numbers that cling to them this morning already look ominous for the rest of the Premier League. Three games, nine points, eight goals scored, none conceded.
Of Manchester City’s three victories, this was the most impressive, harder by far than the dismemberment of Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium the week before.
They may have finished the match with just two Englishmen on the pitch, but this was a very English victory. It was mid-afternoon in August but the floodlights at Goodison were already burning full on as the rain belted down from a sky as bruised as some of the players would be an hour and a half later.
Under David Moyes’s management, Everton were a constant, bloody thorn in the side of City’s ambitions, but this time they were worn down by the sheer quality of the pressure. A few minutes before the visitors broke through, David Silva saw his shot hammer back from the centre of Tim Howard’s post.
Shaun Goater, who led the attack in the days when money to Manchester City meant how much the club owed, tweeted that he expected a goal very shortly. The Goat did not have long to wait.
Everton 0 Manchester City 2 player ratings
Everton 0 Manchester City 2 player ratings
1/22 Evetton: Howard
The busier of the two goalkeepers. Could do very little about both the goals. 6
Delivered a master-class in the second half, dealing with Sterling, which makes you wonder why the likes of Chelsea are not looking in his direction too. 8
Seemed unabashed by the speculation linking him with a switch to Chelsea. The England man was as assured and composed as ever. 7
The commanding centre-back was his typically industrious self and could have scored a goal had his first-half header been a few inches lower. 7
Allowed his inexperience to show during a first half in which he was tasked with facing the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jesus Navas on the flanks. 5
Posed a series of difficult questions which City struggled to answer but lacked the cutting edge required to make his mark. 7
The former Aston Villa man cut an assured figure for long periods, managing the pace of the game and offloading to ball to teammates in decent positions. 7
Occasionally mocked by supporters of other clubs but Roberto Martinez's teachers' pet is a valuable commodity for the former Wigan manager. 7
Seems to have benefited from the Everton spotlight being directed at John Stones but Barkley will be disappointed by his shift today. 7
A decent, if unremarkable, display from the former Manchester United man. Held up play competently but struggled with the power of Toure. 6
Seems to have a point to prove this season. The Belgian international ran himself into the ground but lacked the final touch needed to carve City open. 7
12/22 Man City: Hart
Had precious little to do but managed to collect another clean sheet. 7
Often seen galloping down the right wing, providing invaluable support for Navas, the Frenchman has become an vital attacking source for City's title bid. 7
After two goals in two, Kompany was back to his imperious best at the back as Everton pushed for an equaliser. 8
With City strengthening their defensive options, many would be forgiven for assuming Mangala's time is up. The former Porto man, however, has other ideas. 8
Another masterly display from City's Mr Reliable. The left-back deserved his goal after excelling down the left-flank alongside Sterling. 8
Gave away a series of foolish free-kicks and picked up a silly yellow card which rendered him toothless for the rest of the match. 6
Marshalled his midfield teammates expertly as the going got tough in the latter stages. A continued source of strength. 7
19/22 Jesus Navas
With a box of tricks enough to unlock any defence in the league, Navas combined well with Silva with alarming ease. An encouraging outing from the Spaniard. 8
Desperately unlucky not to score with an effort which cannoned off the post in the second half. The Spaniard delivered his usual blend of guile and trickery to have Everton worried. A joy to watch. 9
Booed at regular intervals by the Everton fans, presumably for his Liverpool connections, the England man was a menace throughout. 8
Like last week, the Argentine squandered a host of opportunities in the first half which could have cost his side dearly. Aguero was willing to put in a shift as Everton turned the screw however. 7
Raheem Sterling had, as he must have expected, been roundly booed – and not just because he has put his mansion, complete with its swimming pool and Michael Jackson-themed bar, on the market.
On the hour mark, he gave his response with a clever pass to Aleksandar Kolarov that opened up the space the left-back required to beat Howard at his near post. It was the first time since March that Sterling had provided an assist – and that was against Manchester City at Anfield.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez thought it stung Everton, who had been pushed remorselessly back throughout the second half, rather too much. They had enjoyed an equal share of the first half and seen Romelu Lukaku denied the opening goal by what Martinez called “an outstanding decision by the linesman”. In the heart of the City defence, Eliaquim Mangala was on a yellow card, as was the man in front of him, Fernandinho.
Had Vincent Kompany, who looks to be dealing seamlessly with any pressure caused by Nicolas Otomendi’s arrival, not cleared off the line, Everton might have equalised. And yet, when Sterling’s replacement, Samir Nasri, played a beautifully judged one-two with Yaya Touré that was finished off with a little dink over Howard, Everton’s resistance was snuffed out like a candle left out in the summer rain.
This was Manchester City’s ninth straight victory in top-flight football, which equals a club record, although it meant little to those in Goodison’s away dressing room. In the same way that Everton captain Phil Jagielka thought April’s 3-0 victory over Manchester United meaningless because by then the club had nothing to play for, so City’s keeper Joe Hart pointed out that six of those wins had come at the end of a “dead season”. This one is new-born and kicking hard.
What angered Martinez was not that Howard had been beaten at his near post by Manchester City’s left-back but that David Silva, who was once more the visitors’ pivotal figure, was allowed too much space in the build up to the opening goal. “Today they were at their very, very best and then they only need a half-chance to score a goal,” said the Everton manager. Here, they were given slightly more than half-chances.
“We had the best moments in the first half, we carried a threat and looked very dynamic, but we didn’t have our normal composure in front of goal,” he added. “But the first goal mattered too much. We were really sloppy on the ball, gave them a counter-attack and the ball ends up in the net. In terms of effort and confrontation, we built a strong platform against the best team in the league, but we were not clinical enough.”
Everton had their moments. Ross Barkley drove hard into Hart’s gloves and, just before the interval, Lukaku sent a free-kick skimming off the top of the bar and sank theatrically to his knees.
It was, however, in defence where Everton were at their most impressive. While young Brendan Galloway found himself stretched to the limit by Jesus Navas on City’s right flank, Jagielka and John Stones coped admirably with the constant threat of Silva and Sergio Aguero, who forced Howard into a reaction save in the opening exchanges.
Each produced finely-timed tackles, Stones on Kolarov, Jagielka on Aguero. However, the trouble with defending against Manchester City in this mood is that you have to keep this sort of thing up for 90 minutes-plus.
Martinez insisted that this would not be Stones’s final game at Goodison Park, despite the presence of Ramiro Mori, who plays centre-half for River Plate, in the crowd. He is being portrayed as a reinforcement rather than a replacement for Stones and Martinez would not confirm a deal was done, although it would be an awful long way to travel to watch a match, however absorbing.