Odds: Manchester City 4/6, Draw 10/3, Everton 9/2
Last season 1-1
Everton go into this game on the back of three Premier League wins on the bounce after beating Chelsea, West Ham United and Newcastle, and are currently fourth in the table. Manchester City have had a poor week having lost to Aston Villa at Villa Park prior to a footballing lesson provided by their opposition on their own patch as Bayern Munich beat them on Wednesday night. While one would imagine that sentence won’t be written too often this season, City’s record at home so far has been, otherwise, excellent and their fans will be expecting a response.
Everton will be without Gareth Barry against his parent club as Everton could welcome back Darron Gibson from injury but manager Roberto Martinez admitted that he remains doubtful. There are also question marks over the fitness of Kevin Mirallas whilst Steven Pienaar will miss out.
There are no further injury worries for Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City side as they look to bounce back this weekend, with Martin Demichelis still sidelined along with former Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell.
Here are five players who may be under the spotlight come Saturday lunchtime:
Hart had a bit of a torrid time of it in the game against Bayern Munich as he was beaten at his near post on two occasions, which has brought some fairly widespread criticism of the England shot stopper. With Everton in good form, he could be a busy man. Can he put the disappointing performance from midweek behind him?
He has already become a favourite amongst Evertonians having scored three times from two Premier League starts. Can he carry on his good form at Eastlands?
He always seems to be the player to watch when it comes to Manchester City. He is big, strong, powerful and has a great eye for goal. How will Everton deal with him? And can he be the catalyst that will fire Manchester City back to winning ways?
He faces a race to be fit for Saturday but Gibson could well come into the side in place of Gareth Barry. How quickly can he slot in and how much joy would he have in midfield up against Fernandinho and Toure? If Gibson doesn’t play, expect Leon Osman to operate in a deeper role.
Considering City have leaked six goals in their past two games, there are going to be plenty of eyes on Vincent Kompany to see if he can show those leadership qualities that has made him one of the best centre-backs in the league. There will be a lot of pressure on him to make sure the back line addresses any frailties that have been exposed over the past week.
Last time they met
Everton 2-0 Manchester City – March 2013, Premier League
Everton came into this game with a shout of the top four after the disappointing loss to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup whilst Manchester City still had faint hopes of retaining their Premier League title. Everton all but ended City's hopes, and kept up their pursuit of fourth after Leon Osman’s superb 30 yard strike gave Everton the lead before Steven Pienaar was sent off for a second bookable offence. It didn’t stop Everton from eventually doubling their lead as Nikicia Jelavic got on the score-sheet in stoppage time to round off a counter-attack from the home side.
image: © alfonso jimenez