Manchester City vs Everton: Match preview and predicted line-ups
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are aiming to get back on track following their first defeat of the season at Spurs, and have a tricky encounter to contend with this weekend as they host Everton. The Toffees have had a few underwhelming results recently, but have looked a more balanced and obdurate side under new manager Ronald Koeman this term.
Everton have won one of the last seven Premier League meetings between the clubs, but will buy the lively form of Romelu Lukaku and summer singing Yannick Bolasie. Another new acquisition, Idrissa Gueye, has impressed at Goodison Park and drawn comparisons to N’Golo Kante. He will have to cover plenty of ground to thwart City’s attacking talent however.
Though they were outplayed at White Hart Lane, especially in the first half of that match, it is premature to speak of a wobble. City still look a strong outfit though, and any team that finished above them will be in with great shout of winning the title. Picking up after an international break is never easy however, and Guardiola will be wary of the threats Everton pose. An interesting sub plot; John Stones faces his old club for the first time since his summer transfer.
City’s 2-0 loss away at Spurs was the only blemish on their league campaign, and they still have a 100% home record to maintain. Their 2-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford was the highpoint of their season in terms of performance level. Elsewhere, they have put horribly out of form teams to the sword; Sunderland, Stoke, West Ham and Swansea. Koeman’s side won four of their first five league games, but travel to the Etihad on the back of two indifferent results; a 1-0 loss at Bournemouth and a 1-1 draw at home to Crystal Palace.
Manchester City starting XI Everton Starting XI
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Injuries and Suspensions
Spanish forward Nolito’s three-match ban for violent conduct has been served and he is set to return on the left flank. Bacary Sagna and Vincent Kompany are certain to miss out through injury, while Yaya Toure is still in exile. Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling and the effervescent Kevin de Bruyne are all doubtful with soft tissue problems. For the visitors, left back Leighton Baines is close to recovering fully and should be ready for this game. Lukaku and Phil Jagielka are both doubtful with thigh problems and will be assessed later this week. Muhamed Besic and Darron Gibson are definitely out.
How City react to their first moment of adversity is something the footballing public has been waiting for, and we are about to find out. The top of the league table has concertinaed, and City know that only wins can keep them in pole position. Losing to a vibrant Spurs team on their own patch was no disgrace however, especially with key figures such as Nolito, de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan all absent from the starting XI.
It will be interesting to see if Koeman tries to copy Mauricio Pochettino’s approach or whether he looks to sit off and limit space in behind. With the likes of Ashley Williams and Gareth Barry in the side, a more circumspect approach seems likely especially when you consider Everton’s pace on the counter attack. Everton have stalled slightly in the last couple of games; Palace should have won at Goodison on the balance of the second half of that game. City could have some key technicians back, and it is hard to bet against them at the Etihad.
Verdict: Home Win
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