23rd August 2015, Kick-Off: 1500 BST
Fresh off the heels of 3-0 victories, both clubs will look to improve on a good early run of form. While City look clear favourites, Everton’s drubbing of Southampton display just how ruthless they can be when everything clicks.
After their 3-0 mauling of Chelsea at the Etihad, Manchester City announced that they mean business, loud and clear. In a performance that comprised of defensive organisation and attacking fluidity, City walked over their opponents with a frightening amount of ease.
At Goodison Park, Everton managed the same scoreline against a much changed Southampton side. Breezing past the Saints through meticulous attack, Everton carved apart the opposition through build-up play and clinical finishing.
City have won three of the last five fixtures against the Toffees, they have only won at Goodison thrice in eighteen visits, a record they will hope to improve.
Manchester City have bought big this summer, with Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi costing the citizens nearly A?90 Million. In spite of this, it has been Manchester City’s ‘old guard’ that has arisen to the challenge once again. David Silva, Sergio Aguero, and Yaya Toure, amongst the club’s senior most players, are each reaching the respective peaks of their abilities. Against Chelsea, City were perfect, demolishing the defending champions with remarkable ease.
Despite completing a A?35 Million move from Valencia, Nicolas Otamendi is unlikely to start against Everton.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini has admitted that it would be difficult to break into the improving centre-half pairing of Kompany and Mangala. Alongside Bacary Sagna and Aleksander Kolarov, City’s back-line is unlikely to change ahead of the tie at Goodison.
Following a return to prominence, Yaya Toure will continue alongside Fernandinho in the heart of City’s midfield.
Ahead of them will lie the trio of David Silva, Jesus Navas and new boy Raheem Sterling. The ability of Sterling and Silva to inter charge positions, along with the pace of Navas, will provide a host of problems for Everton’s back four.
At the apex, Sergio Aguero is shoe-in to retain his spot as City’s striker. When fit, the Argentine is near unplayable.
Against Chelsea, Aguero ran through their back-line like a hot knife through butter, rendering Chelsea’s defensive pairing inert.
Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Hart, Sagna, Mangala, Kompany, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, Silva, Navas, Aguero.
The Toffees seemed to suffer from a lack of sharpness in their 2-2 draw at Watford. However, in the following match against Southampton, Everton recovered their swagger, cutting apart Southampton en route a 3-0 victory.
Questions might be raised over the standard of Everton’s back-line, but Roberto Martinez is likely to stick with the same back four that started against Southampton. Chelsea target John Stones will continue his partnership with Jagielka in the centre, while Coleman plies on the right, with Galloway continuing at left back in Leighton Baines’ absence.
Former Manchester City man Gareth Barry enjoyed a great outing against the Saints and is likely to continue at the heart of midfield, with Tom Cleverley and McCarthy on either side. A three man midfield will have a greater chance against the marauding runs of both Toure and Fernandinho, while giving Everton play on the counter. Ross Barkley is likely to start as a number 10, connecting the midfield to attack.
Up front, Everton will try and bully City’s defenders with the pairing of Arouna Kon and Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku’s new role in the hole enables him to hold up play, and provide service to Kone and Barkley who are likely to overlap. Everton will not sit back and defend for ninety minutes, as they will hope that their robust attack can find the chinks in Manchester City’s defensive armour.
Unlike Manchester City, Everton use their substitutes to change formation instead of strengthening their defence.
Former Barcelona academy product, Gerard Deulofeu, can add pace and agility to the Toffee’s attack, while Naismith and Mirallas can change formation entirely.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-1-2): Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Galloway, Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley, Barkley, Kon , Lukaku.
- A win at Goodison will enable Machester City to equal their record victory run of nine games, which has stood for 103 years.
- By scoring 8 goals in the last 8 games, Sergio Aguero has equalled George Wynn’s record of the same tally, and can go one better if he scores against Everton.
- Manchester City have only once won at Goodison in the last six years, losing four times in that period.
Player to watch out for
The Mercurial Argentine has been in electric form off late. Despite a disappointing Copa America, Aguero has continued his talismanic form in the Premier League, scoring 8 goals in as many games.
With the attacking positions around working to mechanical efficiency, Aguero is afforded the time, space and opportunity to play to his comfort and strength. Whwn all those criterion are met, Aguero scoring is an easy bet.
Though Jagielka and Stones are an odd pairing, their mixture of speed strength, eagerness and experience makes them a tough duo to judge aptly. If Aguero does play to his instincts, Everton will have to try and eliminate his supply line,and make sure he is not afforded the ball.
Though Everton are an immensely unpredictable side, City’s defensive organisation and midfield drive should easily propel them over their opposition. 3-1 to Manchester City.
Blast from the Past