I think that the international break came at a good time for Pep Guardiola. His side’s display against Spurs appeared jaded and may have dispirited the unit somewhat. Similarly, Everton’s awesome start to the season under Ronald Koeman has subsided in recent weeks, with injury bearing some responsibility for that turnaround.
Both sides have had some time to reflect and will be hoping to reenergize their campaigns this weekend. City will clearly be hoping to reassert their early season dominance, while Koeman aims to keep pace with their bitter city rivals Liverpool.
Manchester City v Everton | Saturday 15 October | Etihad Stadium | 16:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Manchester City 5/10 | Draw 7/2 | Everton 47/10
The absence of Kevin De Bruyne really showed against Spurs. The likes of Nolito and Ilkay Gundogan are talented players, but they lack the direct quality that is such a feature of the Belgian’s game. They will be without De Bruyne - who looks so much like his famous compatriot Tintin - for some time and now also have to deal with an injured Bacary Sagna as well.
It’s hard to feel too sympathetic to City’s ‘plight’. Pablo Zabaleta will slot in at right-back, while David Silva and Sergio Aguero continue to provide the major attacking thrust for City. Fernandinho will have a far more comfortable afternoon this weekend dealing with the slightly lackluster midfield of Everton.
The combination of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones has taken some time to find traction. If Lukaku is passed fit the pair will need to be in tune. Raheem Sterling has shown some greater consistency this season. If I were Guardiola, I would take advantage of the absence of Leighton Baines and move Sterling onto Oviedo’s side.
His pace could prove devastating for the deputy left-back. Aguero was actually really impressive against Spurs but just couldn’t quite find the net. I expect him to have a barnstormer here as City press home their authority.
Everton will likely be without the injured Phil Jagielka, meaning Funes-Mori will partner Ashley Williams in the heart of the defense. They are also sweating the fitness of important striker Lukaku. My guess is that Koeman will play the Belgian even if he is at eighty percent.
James McCarthy remains unavailable, while Baines is an absentee. Koeman will be hoping that the rugged athleticism of Yannick Bolasie will keep Kolarov honest, preventing the adventurous left-back from getting forward as much as he usually does.
I really think that Everton's early season form was slightly misleading. Their depth of squad is questionable, while my often made remarks regarding their holding midfielders still hold sway. Ross Barkley is, in my opinion, at the club that best suits his attributes.
There was always talk that he would one day venture to loftier climes, but I think that Barkely’s ability has reached a saturation point. Everton’s midfield are going to struggle to contain the interchangeability of City’s attack.
Verdict: HT/FT Double - Draw/Man City (33/10)
Koeman will set out his stall rigidly and may withstand the City onslaught for the first half. But I expect Aguero and company will figure out the Evertonian Rubik’s Cube eventually.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets