5th October, 12:45 GMT
Manchester City take on Everton at the Etihad Stadium as they look to climb the Premier League table into the European football slots. City have not had an ideal start to the season with Manuel Pellegrini’s men showing patches if form in being inconsistent performers after the first six games in the league. Everton on the other hand have got off to a good start in the league where they stand fourth in a Champions League qualification spot. We preview the early lunchtime kick off on Saturday.
Team News And Tactical Brief
City could not have faced Everton at a worse time. Back to back defeats against Aston Villa and Bayern Munich see them low on morale and confidence as they welcome an Everton side brimming with confidence at their good start to the season. Everton have in the recent past been City’s bogey team. They have lost nine of the last twelve Premier League clashes against Everton, winning just two. And if history wasn’t enough of a put-downer, one must look at Everton’s recent form which suggests that City will not have it easy against the Toffees.
City’s defence has looked leaky and shaky at the back, with Matija Nastasic and Vincent Kompany not working too well with each other. 6 goals have been conceded in the last two games and Pellegrini must ponder on whether a Joleon Lescott-Kompany partnership would work better for the team. Shakier than the defenders in the last game was the performance of goalkeeper Joe Hart, who doesn’t look the same player he did at the end of City’s title winning 2011-12 campaign. There has been a lack of confidence for the England stopper and his indecisiveness in the last two games and his inability to cover his near post for Franck Ribery’s opener for Bayern Munich in the midweek Champions League game has made supporters question his undisputed position as City’s number one keeper. Costel Pantilimon waits in the wings and has shown promise when thrust into the limelight. Many at City believe that the time is right to give young Postilimon a shot in the City goal.
If there is one thing City have been consisted at over the course of this season, it is scoring goals from crosses. City have scored eight goals from crosses in the Premier League this season, which is twice the next best side. Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri, Kolarov and company would look to get more of these onto the strikers Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero so that City can close out the game comfortably. City have looked very inconsistent over the season so far with impressive wins over Newcastle and Manchester United being peppered with lackluster performances against the likes of Cardiff City and Aston Villa. Pellegrini is still looking for his balanced first eleven, as he comes to grips with the environment at the Etihad and the expectations that come with it.
City welcome back David Silva to the team following injury, but Martin Demichelis is out with a knee injury and former Everton player Jack Rodwell is missing through a muscle injury. Pellegrini also has a choice to make up front on whether to go with the Dzeko-Aguero combination or to use Alvaro Negredo with Aguero, the Spanish striker being impressive in his appearances off the bench so far. Manchester City have dominated games in terms of passing this season, averaging 59.7% possession and completing 86% of their 3228 passes, and are the top goalscorers this season with 14 goals. They have taken 10 points from their opening 6 games, winning 3, drawing 1 and losing 2.
Possible Starting Line Up: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov; Jesus Navas, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Nasri, Aguero, Dzeko
The Toffees come into this fixture with an unbeaten start to the season where they have won three and drawn three games. This is the same starting record that they had in 1986-87, the last time they won the league. Everton must also feel confident of getting a result seeing as they have only been beaten twice by Manchester City in the last twelve clashes between these two sides.
Roberto Martinez must be confident ahead of this game at how quickly the team has adapted to his attack minded possession football technique. The Toffees cantered to a 3-0 lead over Newcastle United on Monday before winning the game 3-2 thanks to a Romelu Lukaku double and a Ross Barkley goal. Such a start to the season is bound to have a positive impact on the Everton players who would go into this match full of confidence.
The overall structure of the starting line-up looks good for Everton with new signings James McCarthy and Gareth Barry performing admirably. Romelu Lukaku’s loan signing has been a stroke of genius and should link up well with his compatriot Kevin Mirallas. Lukaku should be given the nod ahead of Jelavic on the back of his impressive goal-scoring game against the Magpies. With Ross Barkley playing the holding role and doing an excellent job (he has scored two and created two goals from his holding midfield position) and Pienaar and Leon Osman on the wings, Everton’s attack looks adventurous and threatening.
Barry, being on loan from his parent club, will be unable to face City on Saturday so Everton will hope Darron Gibson would have recovered in time from his knee injury to replace Barry. Steven Pienaar looks set to miss the game with a hamstring injury while Mirallas might get a look in depending on whether he feels fit after his ankle problems.
Possible Starting Line Up: Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Barkley, McCarthy, Deulofeu, Osman, Mirallas, Lukaku
Player to watch out for
City need a win to keep off the doubters and would need a typically powerful performance from the Ivorian Yaya Toure. He has scored six goals so far in all competitions this season. His powerful tacking and dominant midfield play would be needed if City are to stop Everton’s run of good results against them. Toure’s thundering runs with the ball towards the opposition goal are typical of his influential play. He has also added free kicks to his repertoire with Manuel Pellegrini admitting Toure stays back after training to practice them. Expect Toure to find the back of the net in this match.
Manchester City 1-1 Everton
Blast from the Past
City and Everton drew 1-1 at this fixture last season with Fellaini and Tevez finding the net, both of whom have moved on to new clubs.