Manchester City will look to take a step closer to getting their hands on the Premier League trophy with a win against Everton.

After the international break, Manchester City will resume their quest for the Premier League title with an away fixture against Everton at the Goodison Park on Saturday.

The Citizens have had a stellar season this time around and sit comfortably at the top of the league table,  boasting a 16-point lead over second-placed Manchester United. They need only two more victories to be crowned winners and a victory over the Toffees could set them up for the title win against their local rivals next weekend.

Everton, on the other hand, occupy the ninth spot in the Premier League standings, and come into the game with back to back victories over Brighton & Hove Albion (home) and Stoke City (away). And manager Sam Allardyce will be hoping to make it three wins out of three, by masterminding an upset win against Guardiola’s brigade this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Everton

Everton have been dealt a blow ahead of the game as midfielders Tom Davies and Idrissa Gueye are major doubts for the game with neck and thigh injuries respectively.

Club record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson is also set to miss out with a knee problem, while defender Mason Holgate (knee) and midfielder James McCarthy (calf) are also unavailable. On-loan defender Eliaquim Mangala will not be eligible to feature against his parent club on Saturday.

Allardyce is likely to set his team out to sit deep and play on the counter-attack against the champions-elect. Jordan Pickford has been a bright spot for the Toffees this term and will resume duties between the sticks on Saturday.

His goal will be protected a back four comprising of Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines as the full-backs with captain Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane in the centre. Both the full-backs will be in for a stern test against City’s in-form wingers.

Allardyce is likely to go in with a two-man midfield pivot once again with former Manchester United man Morgan Schneiderlin set to replace the injured Idrissa Gueye, and another former United player, Wayne Rooney, set to occupy the second post in the middle of the park.

Theo Walcott has shown signs of form since joining the Merseysiders in January and will retain his spot on the right-wing, with former Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie set to occupy the other flank. With Davies a doubt, exiled Dutch playmaker Davy Klaassen could be set for a recall in the No.10 role on Saturday.

Spearheading the attack for the Toffees will be January arrival Cenk Tosun, who has scored four goals in his last three appearances.

Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Jagielka, Keane, Baines; Rooney, Schneiderlin; Walcott, Klaassen, Bolasie; Tosun;

Manchester City

Star striker Sergio Aguero is a doubt for Manchester City, after missing out in both the friendlies for Argentina during the international break with a knee problem. Defender John Stones has been ruled out with a concussion. Utility midfielder Fabian Delph could be set to return to the matchday squad, while Benjamin Mendy has also returned to training for the Citizens.

Ederson Moraes will start in goal at the Goodison Park with captain Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi as a defensive shield in front of him, while Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko will occupy the full-back slots. Both the full-backs will have the license to attack, but need to be wary of the threat of Everton’s pacey wide-men.

Fernandinho will start as the holding midfielder for Guardiola’s side to try and stop Everton from building play in the middle. Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva form the creative hub of this Manchester City side with their fantastic vision and exquisite range of distribution. They will occupy the advanced central midfield slots against the Toffees on Saturday.

Raheem Sterling is enjoying his best campaign for the Sky Blues since joining from Liverpool a couple of years back. A big goal threat from the right-flank, he is a definite starter. The opposite wing will be taken up by German speedster Leroy Sane who will cause plenty of problems to the Toffees’ right-back with his pace and directness.

With Aguero a doubt for the game, Brazilian sensation Gabriel Jesus is expected to lead the line for Guardiola’s side at the Goodison.

Probable Starting XI (4-1-4-1): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Fernandinho; Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva, Sane; Jesus

Key Stats

  • Everton have won six of their last nine home games against Man City in all competitions (D1 L2), winning 4-0 last season under Ronald Koeman.
  • Manchester City could become only the third team to beat all other teams in a single Premier League season, after Chelsea in 2005-06 and Manchester United in 2010-11.
  • Everton’s 4-0 win in this fixture last season is Pep Guardiola’s heaviest ever league defeat as a manager and one of just three occasions in his managerial career he has lost by four goals.
  • Wayne Rooney has scored nine Premier League goals against Man City – only Alan Shearer (11) has scored more against the Citizens.
  • Cenk Tosun has scored four goals in his last three games for Everton, after failing to find the net in any of his first four. No Turkish player has ever scored in four consecutive Premier League games before.

Player to watch

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Not just class but class apart. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

Not just class but class apart. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

One of the top contenders for the PFA Player of the Year Award at the end of the season, Kevin De Bruyne has been the chief driving force behind Manchester City’s unbridled success this season. The Belgian international has been a constant source of goals and assists for Guardiola’s side and his ability to change the course of a match in one moment of magic has been on display on plenty of occasions this term.

Easily the best attacking midfielder in the Premier League this season, De Bruyne will once again hold the key to City’s fortunes at the Goodison Park on Saturday.

Prediction

Everton 1-3 Manchester City

Everton are likely to set up with a defensive mindset and will look for opportunities to hit the visitors on the counter. However, this Manchester City side is too good to be shackled down and with the quality of attacking talents at their disposal, they will manage a way to break through the Merseysiders. And here at the Hard Tackle, we predict a fairly straightforward 3-1 win for Guardiola’s side.