Everton vs Manchester City | Sunday 23 August | Goodison Park | 17:00
Free-scoring Manchester City travel to Merseyside on Sunday to take on high-flying Everton at Goodison Park in what has always been an entertaining encounter. With both sides coming off impressive wins, the Toffees will be hoping to cause an upset and capitalize on home ground advantage but they haven’t managed to beat City in two seasons.
To Win (90mins)
Manchester City 7/10
Romelu Lukaku's brace set Everton on course for an impressive first win of the season as Roberto Martinez's side secured a surprisingly comprehensive 3-0 victory at Southampton last weekend. The Toffees will now return to Goodison Park hoping for a better performance than their 2-2 draw against Watford in their opening match of the season. Everton haven’t beaten City in their last four meetings, having suffered defeat on three occasions, while drawing the corresponding fixture 1-1 last season. Prior to those matches, the Toffees had won six of their eight games against City, only to lose once. Martinez’s side are more than capable of causing an upset but they’ll need to be at their best to get a point yet alone three against this Manchester City side. Everton will come out firing just like they always do against the big teams. They won’t just sit back and watch City come at them but they’ll be adventurous in attack and will throw everything they have at Manuel Pellegrini’s team.
Everton have a solid backline that doesn’t concede goals too cheaply and that is largely down to the fantastic understanding between Phil Jagielka and Chelsea target John Stones. Quick, strong, brave in the tackle and with an ability on the ball which most midfield playmakers would be content with, Stones is fast becoming the perfect, modern centre back. Highly-rated 19-year-old Brendan Galloway has proven an able deputy for injured left back Leighton Baines. He has pace, tackling ability, and defensive positioning which allows him to cut out many attacks which could be threatening. He is also a great attacker, many times overlapping his winger to create attacking opportunities. Ross Barkley runs the show in midfield with his quick feet and fantastic dribbling skills. He can turn defence into attack in a matter of seconds and has the ability to create something out of nothing. Barkley brings creativity and invention to Martinez’s side and he could be a nuisance for Pellegrini’s men on Sunday. Up front, Lukaku gives the team an unshakeable focal point in attack. He is powerful, strong and a cunning poacher relying on his speed and athleticism to sniff out the tiniest of chances and convert them into goals (when he’s up for it).
Manchester City come into this match in a buoyant mood following their 3-0 thrashing of league champions Chelsea. The well-earned victory continued City’s impressive start to the season following their 3-0 win at West Bromwich Albion and gave Pellegrini a first win over his nemesis Jose Mourinho since the Portuguese returned to Chelsea in 2013. Two games in and City find themselves five points ahead of Chelsea, the pre-season favourites for the title. It's too early for Pellegrini and his squad to get excited but what their opening two games of the new season have shown is that they look slicker than they did last season. The pace and verve they showed when winning the Premier League and Capital One Cup in 2013/14 is returning. David Silva has looked imperious so far, as has Yaya Toure. Vincent Kompany now has two goals in two games, which will provide him with a much-needed confidence boost after a miserable season the last time out. Eliaquim Mangala appears to be more settled. City look fired up and raring to go. Raheem Sterling will provide a constant threat on the wing and pester Everton’s full backs with excessive pace, quick feet, brilliant creativity and an eye for goal.
Silva has played a key part in both of City’s wins and he’ll be looking to penetrate Everton’s defence. A genius on the ball, with the eye and the skill to pick out even the toughest of passes, matched with the ability to score as well, Silva has truly come to be one of the best playmakers in the Premier League. Silva has formed a telepathic understanding with Sergio Aguero and their chemistry makes City’s attack almost unplayable. Aguero possesses strength, pace, dribbling and the ability to finish impeccably with either foot, and there is no doubt that Manchester City are a better team with him in the side. Aguero terrorises defences with quick running, sharp turning, and powerful shooting. His ability on the ball makes him more than a genuine threat and Everton’s backline will need to be rock-solid to prevent him from getting on the scoresheet.
VERDICT: Manchester City 7/10
Manchester City were convincing in both of their opening matches, ousting the league champions in the process, while Everton failed to beat newly-promoted Watford on home soil in their opening game. City have a host of attacking stars at their disposal with the likes of Sterling, Silva and Aguero leading a lethal team that is superior to Everton in all departments.