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    Manchester City 1-1 Everton: Talking points as Premier League champions lose title race ground

    Manchester City and Everton shared trophies at Etihad on Saturday, the last day of 2022, where Erling Haaland (who else) took advantage of a great job from Riyad Mahrez to break the deadlock in the 24th minute and Demarai Gray blew up in a superb top corner equalizer in 64th.

    Title lost to City?

    With Liverpool being the only side to have challenged Manchester City in any Premier League title challenge well beyond the race since 2017/18, many thought the trophy would easily remain at the Etihad at the end of this season. but Arsenal was certainly the surprise of the campaign. Their great performances and results have long put pressure on Pep Guardiola’s team to keep up and it seems like the defending champions are crumbling under it.

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    Entering the weekend five points behind, City clearly needed to win this match and were hoping Arsenal would later fall behind Brighton & Hove Albion, but neither their need nor their hope was there. Everton managed to drop two points from their potential score, while the Gunners crushed the Seagulls at the Amex, which no longer surprised anyone. The lead is now seven points and it will take a major crisis to hit former Guardiola assistant Mikel Arteta and his team to be exciting at the top again.

    At the moment, City have nothing to do but keep their heads on the grindstone and win every match they can and hope for Arsenal’s mistake, but as things stand, their chances of retaining the title this time around seem very low. .

    On the other hand, Everton will see the moment as important as they find themselves in a relegation battle once again, though it may be too early to tell this season. There is a long way to go and if they manage to get some stability, Frank Lampard’s team could still get out of it long before the signal lights start flashing red. Avoiding defeat at Etihad is certainly a significant step in the right direction, but one point is just one point, and unless it serves as the basis for something more, it will be of little use.

    Miracle named Haaland

    After 16 Premier League appearances this season, Haaland has 21 goals to his credit and is on track to break Mohamed Salah’s record of 32 in a 38-game season set in 2017/ eighteen. The fact that he missed the match against Leicester City at the end of October with a bruised foot only makes his results all the more impressive.

    City, a team that creates many chances in almost every game, added a striker to their ranks who captures chances like no other, and from the moment the Norwegian signed for the club, it was clear that he would be a huge success. With playmakers like Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gündogan, Bernardo Silva and Mahrez, City often get Haaland into the box easily and that’s all they need to do to keep him in the net. .

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    Haaland clearly has the perfect structure for a striker. Tall and powerful, formidable in the air, with quickness and great finishing, and a rare knack for being in the right place at the right time, he is still only 22 years old and if City can win back Real Madrid’s declared interest. in the future and to keep him happy in Manchester, they will be in 9th place for at least ten years.

    Haaland, of course, also needs to avoid serious injuries, and this is where the potential problem lies for City.

    Prior to his arrival, Guardiola rarely relied on one striker to score so many goals for his team, and because of that, he never had to worry about losing one or two to injury for a while. But with the arrival of Haaland, players like Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, Guardiola’s longtime strikers, have decided to leave in search of a place where their own attacking contribution will be more sought after and appreciated. Sergio Aguero, who has since retired from the game, left a year earlier, while Ferran Torres followed the Argentine veteran to Barcelona last January.

    City’s attacking depth has dwindled significantly over the past 18 months, a fact that doesn’t matter at this point due to Haaland’s incredible numbers. But if Haaland misses a couple of months, City will either spend a fortune again on the transfer market or more likely risk relegation quickly from the top of the league.

    nerves

    Another potential worry for Guardiola now is that his players have begun to show signs of nervousness in certain situations, something that has rarely happened in previous seasons. It seems that the fact that the title is gradually slipping out of their hands is beginning to dawn on them, and they react much more violently to the pushes and pushes of the opposition.

    This game was probably the worst in this aspect. Haaland was roughly thrown to the ground from behind in the first minute by Everton’s Ben Godfrey and from that point on it seemed like he made it his personal mission to get revenge on any opponent who came within range of his spikes or elbows.

    Bernardo Silva was booked for blatant diving just 15 minutes later, but that’s not news for the Portugal international; he never held much to the standards of normal sportsmanship. This, on the other hand, is not usually the case with Haaland or De Bruyne, and yet they both received warnings for excessively rough play, and they will consider themselves lucky that referee Andy Madeley chose not to send either of them off. several times after these orders.

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    Passion on the pitch is good, but Guardiola will want to talk to his two best players about how to control the situation at certain moments.

    gray quality

    After climbing the youth ladder at Birmingham City, Demarai Gray spent five years at Leicester City before moving to Bayer Leverkusen for six months. Everton brought him back to England in the summer of 2021 for just €2m, a ridiculously low fee for a player of such talent. Or would be if the winger, at 26, still carried the labels of “talent” and “potential”.

    What exactly held back Gray’s progress is difficult to say without knowing from the inside what happened to him in the dressing rooms and training grounds of the clubs he played for. But there is an overwhelming feeling that a winger with the natural ability he has, with tremendous speed and significant dribbling and shooting skills, should have done much more in his career so far. He probably would have done so if he had been properly trained during the most important period for his development.

    Looking at Everton’s performance this season, Gray clearly stands out from the rest of the team as a player who can take the ball and make things happen. The goal he scored, the way he scored it, leaving Ederson Moraes in his tracks, will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen him play. It was a perfect example of this ability.

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    There is a feeling that at Leicester his talents were wasted. Looking at his numbers, one can see a noticeable drop in his playing time, starting with Brendan Rodgers taking over as head coach in the second half of the 2018/19 season. Confidence is a very important part of any player’s development, and the arrival of a coach who didn’t trust him enough was likely the cause of his stagnation and perhaps even regression for a while.

    Back in the present, Gray is probably too late for the career his talents once announced. By the time his contract with Everton expires, he will be 28, and even then the Toffees have the option to extend it for another year. It’s just hard to imagine any big club showing genuine interest in him again and his fate should be a reminder to young players to think hard when weighing decisions for the future. If they don’t play regularly between the ages of 22 and 25, then it’s time to consider leaving as soon as possible.

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