Manchester City will be aiming to end their domestic campaign on a high when they take on Everton in their final game of the 2020/21 Premier League on Sunday.
The curtains will fall on what has been an eventful, action-packed 2020/21 Premier League season this weekend, with all the ten fixtures set to be played out together on Sunday afternoon. And, newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester City will be looking to sign off in style when they lock horns with European football hopefuls Everton in front of their fans at the Etihad Stadium.
Quite a few wrote off Manchester City’s chances in the league this season after their jittery start. But what followed was a rampant run of domination as Pep Guardiola & co. went on a 28-game unbeaten run across all competitions, winning 21 in a row until that streak was snapped by neighbours Manchester United in March earlier this year.
Nonetheless, that was more than enough to put them on course for another league title triumph, along with the Carabao Cup win, while they have even managed to make it to the UEFA Champions League final for the first time ever. With the showpiece event coming up next week, the Cityzens will look to warm up in style while also putting on a show in front of their fans who return to the stadium after over a year.
This is our City! 🏆🔵
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 11, 2021
As for Everton, things began with such promise and for the longest time, Carlo Ancelotti’s men were in the conversation for a top four finish. However, bouts of inconsistency, drop in form of key stars and injuries have all combined to see the Toffees drop down to eighth in the table heading into the final gameweek, three points off of West Ham United in sixth.
A win on Sunday, thus, may still not be enough for them to secure a place in the Europa League, although they could force their way into the inaugural Europa Conference League if results elsewhere go their way on the final matchday. However, they have not had the best of luck going up against City this term, losing 3-1 in the league before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat in the FA Cup quarter-final.
Ahead of their latest meeting, in front of 10,000 home supporters at the Etihad Stadium this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
🔜 City v Everton 🙌
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 21, 2021
Heading into the game, manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed that legendary striker Sergio Aguero has recovered from his niggling issues and is back in training, while Kyle Walker has also returned after missing the last game against Brighton & Hove Albion, which ended in a defeat for the Cityzens. Joao Cancelo, though, misses out due to suspension for the Premier League champions.
With the Champions League final in sight, expect Guardiola to give some of his regulars a breather on Sunday especially in defence, where the likes of Ruben Dias and John Stones have played relentlessly. Instead, Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte could pair up at the heart of the Manchester City backline, flanked by the returning Walker and Benjamin Mendy at right-back and left-back, respectively.
Club captain Fernandinho should get the nod at the base of the midfield for the hosts, with the Brazilian likely to be paired up with Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan in the middle of the park as the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri get a breather.
Moving into the attacking unit, Ferran Torres should feature on the right flank ahead of Riyad Mahrez while Raheem Sterling gets the nod on the left. Phil Foden will be an option from the bench for Guardiola. Despite Aguero’s return and this being his last match at the Etihad, the Argentine is unlikely to start on Sunday, with Gabriel Jesus set to get the nod as the lone striker.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Laporte, Ake, Mendy; Silva, Fernandinho, Gundogan; Torres, Jesus, Sterling
Everton will be without three players for the trip to Etihad as captain Seamus Coleman and key man James Rodriguez miss out with injuries along with long-term absentee Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed we will be without James Rodriguez and Seamus Coleman for #MCIEVE.
— Everton (@Everton) May 21, 2021
Carlo Ancelotti will set his team up in a 4-4-2 formation against the Premier League champions with Jordan Pickford lining up between the sticks. Michael Keane and Yerry Mina will shield him as the two centre-backs while Ben Godfrey slots in at right-back in the absence of Coleman. There is no looking past the lively Lucas Digne at left-back, who will provide an attacking outlet on the flank.
Moving into the middle of the park, the onus will be on the duo of Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure to keep Manchester City at bay by nipping their attacks in the bud. Alex Iwobi will look to provide a direct threat on the right while Gylfi Sigurdsson will constantly drift infield from the left side and look to fashion chances for the forwards.
Speaking of the forwards, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are the obvious choices to start for the Toffees, with January signing Joshua King providing an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pickford; Godfrey, Mina, Keane, Digne; Iwobi, Doucoure, Allan, Sigurdsson; Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison
- Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.57
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score anytime @ 3.50
- Full-time Result – Draw or Everton @ 2.75
- Manchester City have won each of their last six Premier League games against Everton, as many as they had in their previous 21 against the Toffees (D5 L10).
- Everton haven’t won their final league game in any of the last four campaigns (D1 L3), since beating Norwich 3-0 in 2015-16.
- Manchester City have lost their final league game in just one of the last 12 seasons (W9 D2), losing 3-2 at home to Norwich in 2012-13.
- Everton have won 11 Premier League away games this season, already their most in a single campaign in the competition. Their record for away wins in a single league campaign is 12, doing so in two different title-winning seasons in 1969-70 and 1984-85.
- Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus has scored seven Premier League goals against Everton, more than he has vs any other opponent in the competition. The Brazilian has scored two goals in his last two against the Toffees at the Etihad Stadium.
Player to Watch
🗣 | Pep Guardiola on @aguerosergiokun:
"When he's fit, and he has continuity in training and games. He's like Romario, in five metres he can be like a lion in the jungle making steps to kill opponents. The biggest quality is his unique sense of goal…"
— City Chief (@City_Chief) May 21, 2021
Who else but that man Sergio Aguero. He might not be fit enough to start on Sunday, but when he takes the field at the Etihad for one last time as a Manchester City player, expect the stadium to roar. What a player he has been for the Cityzens! Ten years ago, he arrived and gave the club the most iconic moment in their history and just carried on from that point on.
The all-time leading goalscorer for Manchester City, Aguero is also the highest scoring non-English player in Premier League history (182), while he averages a goal every 109 minutes in the competition – the best rate of any player to have scored at least 10. One of the greatest ever to grace the Premier League, the 32-year-old is close to signing for Barcelona on a free transfer and he will be itching to sign off in style by firing City to another victory on Sunday.
Manchester City 3-2 Everton
Manchester City have somewhat taken their eyes off the ball over the past couple of games, just about escaping with a win over Newcastle United while succumbing to a defeat to Brighton last time out. The defence has not looked comfortable dealing with direct, long balls, something that Everton might look to exploit.
However, the quality that this Manchester City attack possesses means they have what it takes to outscore oppositions, even if it may need Pep Guardiola to bring on the big guns like Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez at some point. The Hard Tackle is expecting another contest filled with goals keeping in trend with City’s recent games, with Guardiola & co. just about emerging out on top.