James Tarkowski believes Everton were unlucky to see a resolute defensive display thwarted by Manchester City’s opening goal on Saturday afternoon.
Erling Haaland fired the title-chasing hosts into the lead after 71 minutes, but Tarkowski says the decision to award a corner before that goal was ‘dubious'.
Furthering the frustration for the Blues, that goal was Manchester City’s first shot on target - the Premier League champions’ longest wait for an attempt on goal in a league match since September 2021.
Throughout the entire encounter at the Etihad Stadium, the Toffees limited City to just three shots on target – far lower than their league-leading average of 6.77 per game.
“I thought we played really well and kept them to very little,” said Tarkowski after the game. “I've just been told that their first goal was the first shot on target they had. It shows how well we were playing at the time.
“I didn’t think they were creating much, and I didn’t think we were in loads of danger. I remember, I think, Rodri hit one from the edge of the box and it went over the bar. I felt like that was a good sign of where we were at, when they’re shooting from 25 yards out.
“We thought we were really playing well; frustrating them; getting bodies in front of the ball; blocking crosses. It’s everything the manager expects of us.
“We were playing well but we get punished off a dubious corner. I still believe it was a goal-kick, but once again, something else goes against this club.
“I just don’t feel like many decisions have gone our way. You go to speak to the refs, and they’ll say: ‘Well, we’ll have a look at it'. It’s no good looking at it now, is it? We need you to look at and get it right. It does feel like a lot has gone against us, more than for us.”
A testament to the mentality of Sean Dyche’s Everton side, the Blues fought back into the game after the opening goal.
However, the hosts punished the Toffees, catching them out high up the field, before launching a devastating counter-attack, a move finished by Haaland, who netted his second goal of the afternoon and his 16th of the Premier League season.
Discussing the importance of the ‘minor details’ Tarkowski reviewed the action following the first goal, adding: “I thought we started getting into the game around the 80th minute. We started keeping the ball well and getting into good positions.
“But we gave it away sloppily, and against players like Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland, you’re going to get punished.
“I think when you come here more than anywhere else, the minor details do count. If you get one wrong, you’re probably going to concede. That’s what happened today. We lost Haaland in the box, and he finished. For the second goal, if you give him that space in behind, then he’s going to punish you, so those minor details do cost you - here more than anywhere else.
“It’s difficult because they dominate the ball so well and they press really well. They’re the toughest team to play against, by far."