Everton v Man City: The talking points

STONES IN SPOTLIGHT

John Stones appears to be experiencing growing pains.

Twice in the opening 15 minutes of the match, the Everton and England centre-back was guilty of misplacing basic passes, sending one ball out of play and another straight to an opponent.

Maybe for other players this may go unnoticed, but the 21-year-old has earned a deserved reputation as a classy ball player and such errors are going to be highlighted.

From making everything look easy, an element of doubt has crept into Stones' play over recent weeks.

TOURE IMPERFECT 10

Yaya Toure's critics have been given ample opportunity to question his work rate of late, so Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini came up with a solution that gave his side the best possible chance of maximising the midfielder's strengths without having to suffer his weaknesses.

Playing in a more advanced No. 10 role, Toure was absolved of most of his defensive duties and was given freedom to attack. However, it made little difference to City's cause in the end.

LET-OFF FOR 'KEEPERS

Whatever happened to testing the goalkeeper?

Between them, Joel Robles and Willy Caballero had started only 10 matches this season before Wednesday's game, and the logical expectation was that either, or both, might be ring-rusty.

That made the lack of shots on goal particularly hard to fathom, during a first half in which neither goalkeeper was called into meaningful action until Robles saved from Sergio Aguero after 43 minutes.

It became even more difficult to understand when the quality of attacking player on show was taken into consideration.

CITY WEARING WELL

City are coping better than others with fixture fatigue.

Like Liverpool, City have played 30 games in all competitions so far this season. Unlike Liverpool, they are not in the midst of an injury crisis, with only three first-team regulars being unavailable to Pellegrini on Wednesday.

Perhaps it is their superior experience, or maybe it is their greater physicality, but whatever the reason, they are coping well with the demands placed upon them. With Aguero regaining his match sharpness, they look primed for the second half of the season.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2016, with the headline 'Everton v Man City: The talking points'. Print Edition | Subscribe