Manchester City will look to kickstart 2020 on a positive note when they welcome Everton at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Manchester City will have the opportunity to overtake second-placed Leicester City when they lock horns with Everton on Wednesday. However, they must secure all three points over the Toffees while also hope that the Foxes fail to win their game against Newcastle United earlier in the afternoon.
Regardless, both the sides are still way behind league leaders Liverpool, who are leading by a whopping 13 point with a game to spare. Hence, the Sky Blues will be hoping for an upturn of fortunes during the second half of the campaign if they are to win the league title.
Everton, on the other hand, have done reasonably well following the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti. The ex-AC Milan boss has won both his games, in charge of the Merseyside giants, with his most recent victory coming against Newcastle on Saturday.
As a result, the Toffees will be heading into this fixture, full of confidence, especially against a Man City side, who have shown a lot of complacency throughout the course of the campaign. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this crucial Premier League encounter this midweek.
Tactics & Team News
Pep Guardiola will be blessed with the return of Ederson from suspension, meaning Claudio Bravo will make way for him in goal. The Catalan has also passed John Stones fit and in contention to start, though we expect Nicolas Otamendi to get the nod.
The Argentine could replace Eric Garcia in central defence and partner Fernandinho at the heart of the four-man backline. Kyle Walker is likely to continue at right-back. But, same cannot be said for Oleksandr Zinchenko, who might make way for Benjamin Mendy on the opposite flank.
Rodri is expected to retain his role as the number six, despite starting the last two games for Manchester City. David Silva is in contention to start alongside his compatriot, ahead of Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan while Kevin de Bruyne is a guaranteed starter in the number eight slot.
Guardiola has refrained from making any changes in the wide attacking roles, and he isn’t expected to deter from his formula this time either. That means both Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling could once again feature as wingers, ahead of Silva, Phil Foden and Co.
However, there might be one change in attack, with Gabriel Jesus, who has returned from illness, replacing Sergio Aguero in the number nine slot.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Mendy; de Bruyne, Rodri, D Silva; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
Ancelotti is expected to ring in the changes, especially with the games coming thick and fast. Especially in the defensive department, there might be a complete overhaul, with Seamus Coleman, Lucas Digne and Yerry Mina all returning at the expense of Djibril Sidibe, Michael Keane and Leighton Baines.
In midfield, Ancelotti hopes to have Morgan Schneiderlin available for selection. But, the Frenchman is unlikely to start irrespective of his fitness, making Fabian Delph favourite to start alongside Gylfi Sigurdsson at the base of Everton’s 4-4-2. The Englishman will be keen on making an impact against his former club.
Given the strength of the opposition, it won’t be surprising to see Sidibe getting the nod ahead of Theo Walcott in the right-sided midfield slot. The Frenchman’s presence could be critical in maintaining the flexible setup of Ancelotti.
Bernard, meanwhile, is expected to operate on the opposite flank, with Richarlison shifting into a more central role and starting alongside Dominic Calvert-Lewin, as leaders of the Everton attack.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pickford; Coleman, Mina, Holgate, Digne; Sidibe, Delph, Sigurdsson, Bernard; Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin
- Manchester City have won their last four Premier League games against Everton – they’ve never won five in a row against the Toffees in the top-flight.
- Everton are winless in their last eight Premier League away games against Manchester City, though three of their last four visits to the Etihad have ended level.
- Manchester City have won their first league games in 12 of the last 13 calendar years, losing only against Sunderland in 2012 in that run.
- Everton have lost their last three Premier League games played on New Year’s Day, failing to score each time. Their last such victory came back in 2012.
- Manchester City have lost only three of their last 32 Premier League home games, although two of those losses have come in their last seven at the Etihad. However, they have won 52 of their last 67 PL home games under Pep Guardiola – more than any other Premier League team since the start of 2016/17 campaign.
Player to Watch
There will certainly be a lot of hype around Jesus, who is tipped to start ahead of Aguero in the number nine slot this midweek. The Brazilian is currently the designated successor of his Argentine counterpart but has so far failed to live up to the expectations.
In fact, Pep has recently admitted that Aguero is “irreplaceable”. Hence, this could be an excellent opportunity for Jesus to prove his worth, especially against an Everton side, who have looked solid at the back and have kept two clean sheets in their last three matches.
Calvert-Lewin is also worth keeping an eye on, having netted a brace in the win over Newcastle United.
Manchester City 2-0 Everton
Manchester City will, no doubt, be keen on starting the new year on a positive note and finally kickstart their recovery after a disappointing first half. Hence, we expect the Sky Blues to come out all guns blazing and emerge as 2-0 victory against the Toffees.