Leighton Baines insists Everton will learn from Saturday’s defeat to Manchester City.
The hosts shaded the midfield battle at the Etihad Stadium – a factor which the England defender believes contributed significantly to the Toffees surrendering their six-game unbeaten sequence in the Premier League.
The 28-year-old says that the Blues need to become more aware when elements of their gameplan are being nullified by opponents and, consequently, not be afraid to switch their strategy during matches.
“The main thing [to learn] is to adjust tactically in the game and to recognise those moments when something isn’t quite working,” Baines told evertontv in the aftermath of the 3-1 reverse.
“The space was obviously out wide because they had packed the middle of the pitch. It’s an area where we have been strong lately – our goals have come from there with Rom [Lukaku] and Ross [Barkley] linking up – but they [Manchester City] worked on stopping it.
“We’ve got to be tactically aware to recognise it and come up with another plan. We kept trying to do the same things and we weren’t getting any results.”
Referee Jon Moss handed out nine bookings as play became increasingly congested.
Manchester City midfielders James Milner and Fernandinho were amongst those cautioned as Manuel Pellegrini’s side allowed Everton little time on the ball, pressing at every opportunity in the central areas.
Baines felt that Everton lost their rhythm as a result of the hosts’ approach.
“They got people around the ball when we were in those [midfield] areas,” added Baines. “Inevitably we ended up losing possession quite a bit and it disrupted our flow. We were never able to edge our way up and build any momentum or get any play in their half.
“They hit us on the break and once that happens a couple of times you have to be careful about your own positions. You can’t be too aggressive and push too many players forward.
“It became a bit of a chess game in that sense and they probably won that in the middle of the pitch, especially when we got into their final third and things broke down.”
Baines is next in action for Everton when Hull City visit Goodison Park on Saturday 19 October - tickets are now on general sale. To buy, click here or call 0871 663 1878.
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