Andy Townsend's boot room: Everton will provide first real test for Mancini

16 January 2010 01:53
Easy street: Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini has enjoyed a good start and has had good results. But Manchester City's fixtures could have been tailor- made for him and today's trip to Goodison Park will provide the first real test of his reign.

Everton looked very, very good against Arsenal. They had a real purpose to their play and they will be disappointed that they did not leave the Emirates Stadium with a victory.

Everton are always a match for anybody on their own patch and they will go into the game against City in good heart.

City have won matches that I believe they would have won under Mark Hughes anyway: Stoke, Wolves Middlesbrough and Blackburn is nothing like the start Brian Laws has, taking Burnley to Manchester United, Reading and Bolton before a home clash with Chelsea.

But credit to Mancini: whenever you walk into a new job you are always faced with difficulties. But the timing of Mark Hughes's departure had everything to do with those fixtures.

If they wanted to get Mark out there was no better time to do it because it obviously makes Mancini's appointment look very good. It might seem slightly unfair to Hughes but that is life.

Carlos Tevez, even though I don't see him as a guaranteed 30-goals-a-season man, is on a great run at the moment and that has also played into Mancini's hands.

Nonetheless, you have still got to win matches and and Mancini should be applauded for doing so.

Everton are starting to gain a bit of momentum and look more like their old selves. They are not far away from starting to turn draws into wins. They were very unlucky ag ainst Arsenal. They dominated the game at the Emirates, where the home side needed two deflected goals - the second one deep into injury time - to snatch a draw.

I am sure David Moyes, the Everton manager, has been telling his players just to keep the belief and give him more of the same. It is not like they are going 1-0 down, hanging on and then pinching something from a set play. They are showing ambition and counter-attacking teams with pace.

Landon Donovan on loan might prove to be a very shrewd piece of business by Moyes. He is a talented player and Everton have sorely missed Mikel Arteta's creativity. Donovan may just provide a bit more of that. He is comfortable on the ball and, unlike Marouane Fellaini, is not just a physical presence.

The Everton players will enjoy playing alongside him. As for Patrick Vieira, it is no surprise to see Mancini bring in someone he has worked with before, who understands English football and who brings in a bit of know-how and experience.

He knows that Vieira is not as young as when he was at Arsenal, but he will have players with bags of energy around him.

As an older player, that is exactly what you need. Vieira ticks a lot of those boxes for Mancini and if he comes in and tightens the team up, then his experience could prove invaluable.

Head to headLampardvCana(Chelsea)(Sunderland)19.Appearances181,690.Minutes played1,5866.Goals.054.Total shots1339%Shooting accuracy.15%11%Goals-to-shots ratio.0%8.Goal assists069.Chances created 9944Passes.60280%Pass completion .70%120Crosses.332%Cross completion 0%28.Dribbles.429%Dribble completion25%40Tackles6470%.Tackles won.73%

Match of their days:Stoke v Liverpool1982 In the seasonLiverpool regained the League title, this masterly 5-1 win at Stoke wasthe most awesome demonstration of their firepower. Terry McDermott,Graeme Souness, Sammy Lee and Ronnie Whelan all scored from 25 yards,with a clinical finish from Kenny Dalglish. Stoke manager Richie Barkergasped: 'Liverpool were incredible.'

1975 Stoke'sAlan Hudson ruled this top-of-the table clash with a master class ofmidfield play in a 2-0 win. Later, Liverpool manager Bill Shanklysought out Hudson to tell him: 'Son, that was the best individualperformance I have ever seen.'

1933 Today'sclash is unlikely to provide a repeat of the off-field drama in a 1-1draw in the midst of The Great Depression. Searing heat on a Sept emberevening in Stoke caused hundreds among the 28,000 crowd to faint. Forthe record, Stoke's Harry Davies equalised with a header after afirst-half goal from Harold Taylor.

One to watchMarc Albrighton Isn't he a bit old for One to Watch? Not at all, he's only 20. You must be thinking of ex-Doncaster Rovers Mark (with a K) Albrighton.

OK, so tell me about Marc with a C.He is yet another of Aston Villa's exciting young talents, and made his debut against CSKA Moscow last February.

Where does he play.He started out as a striker but he's just 5ft 9ins, so followed his hero, Dean Saunders, to play wide on the right. He explains: 'When I was about 16 I was playing up front and I wasn't really growing much and I was coming up against some massive centre halves.'

Did it work?Certainly. He won his first England U20 cap against Italy and has made a handful of appearances for Villa as a sub.

Where did Villa find him?Marc was just eight when they signed him, just after he was rejected by West Brom, who must be kicking themselves now. Bit like the record executive who turned down the Beatles.

Bet they thought he was going Nowhere Man!He isn't now: Vllla have given him a new three-year deal.

Premier League match previews

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Source: Daily_Mail