Our EPL writer previews the matchup between Everton and Man City taking place at Goodison Park.
Manchester City will travel to Merseyside on Sunday to take on Everton at Goodison Park. These sides played to a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium in October, Romelu Lukaku’s 64th-minute strike was cancelled out by Nolito’s header in the 72nd minute. Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero both missed penalties for Pep Guardiola's side in that match.
English Premier League | Sunday 15 January | Goodison Park | 15:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Everton 32/10 | Draw 26/10 | Manchester City 8/10
After crashing out of the FA Cup last Saturday, Everton will just have the league to focus on for the rest of the season. Ronald Koeman’s side coughed up a hard-earned lead to lose 2-1 at home to Leicester City and exit at the third round.
The Toffees are seventh in the Premier League table but stand a mammoth nine points adrift of sixth-placed Manchester United. With the top six all vying for the title, the best Everton can hope for is a seventh place finish. And if a team in the top six wins the FA Cup, Koeman’s side will qualify for the UEFA Europa League at the third qualifying round.
Everton are unbeaten in their last three Premier League matches, beating Leicester 2-0 away and Southampton 3-0 at home, before drawing 2-2 at Hull City. The Toffees have lost just once at Goodison Park in the league, a 1-0 defeat against Liverpool last month.
They’ve won five of their 10 matches, including a 2-1 victory over Arsenal, ending the Gunners’ 14-match unbeaten run in the league. Tottenham and Manchester United had to settle for draws when they came to Goodison Park which proves how tough City will have it.
Everton claimed a 2-1 win over City in the EFL Cup in their last meeting at Goodison Park, but the Toffees failed to beat them in their last three Premier League matches in Merseyside, losing twice. Their last league victory over City came in 2013 when goals from Leon Osman and Nikica Jelavic saw off Roberto Mancini’s side at Goodison Park.
Koeman will rely on powerhouse striker Romelu Lukaku to bully City’s defence and add to his tally of 11 goals this season. The Belgian international gives the team an unshakeable focal point in attack but he’ll need good service from his teammates.
Sunday's match will see Everton without Idrissa Gueye after the Senegal international headed off on African Nations Cup duty. Fellow midfielder James McCarthy (hamstring) and goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg (dead leg) are not yet ready to make their returns to action, while Yannick Bolasie (knee) is ruled out for the season.
Manchester City come into this fixture high on confidence following their 5-0 thrashing over West Ham – their fifth win in six matches – in the FA Cup. Yaya Toure's penalty, Havard Nordtveit's own goal and a strike from David Silva made it 3-0 by half-time. Top scorer Sergio Aguero and John Stones added goals after the break to give Pep Guardiola the perfect introduction to the competition.
Guardiola had been facing criticism following some erratic recent performances in the Premier League. City scraped past a gritty Burnley side 2-1 at home, following on from a 1-0 defeat away to title rival Liverpool – City's fourth league defeat of the campaign. But City were back to their free-flowing, passing excellence from earlier this season and Guardiola claimed his side are now back to their best.
Man City are fourth in the league table with 42 points, seven behind league-leading Chelsea. Guardiola’s side will be desperate to pick up maximum points against Everton with title rivals Manchester United and Liverpool squaring off later in the evening. z
Man City are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League meetings against the Toffees, winning four times. It would have been five wins had they converted at least one of their two penalties against Koeman’s side in October.
The Citizens have bags of talent in their attacking ranks, Silva, Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne who can cause all kinds of problems for Everton’s defence.
In team news, Fernandinho is serving a three-match suspension and Leroy Sane remains a doubt to be fully fit to feature, while Ilkay Gundogan and Vincent Kompany are long-term absentees with knee ligament injuries. It remains to be seen when Guardiola will name new signing Gabriel Jesus in his matchday squad.
Verdict: Manchester City (8/10)
Everton will raise their game just as they always do against the big teams, but they’ll find it tough without Gueye and McCarthy in midfield. City looked back to their best against West Ham last Friday and I fancy them to come away with all three points.
Written by Chadley Nagel for @Hollywoodbets