PREVIEW | Everton vs Manchester City

Everton were brought back down to earth last week on the South Coast. The Blues were defeated 2-0 by Southampton, just a week after cruising to a 3-0 win against Leeds United the week before.

The Toffees performance was lacklustre, and they did not register a shot on target against the Saints. The result left Frank Lampard’s side in sixteenth place on twenty-two points, just two points ahead of Burnley in eighteenth, having played the same number of games.

Come 5:30 on Saturday, Everton could be in the bottom three, as both Burnley and Newcastle United play before the Blues. If Newcastle get any sort of result against Brentford and Burnley beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, then 5:30 on Saturday becomes all the more important.

Manchester City sit top of the Premier League, despite a hiccup against Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday. Pep Guardiola’s side lost 3-2 to Antonio Conte’s Spurs, despite having fifteen more shots, and 72% possession.

City thought they had rescued a point when Riyad Mahrez converted a penalty in the ninety-second minute, but Harry Kane got his second and Tottenham’s third in the fifth minute of stoppage time to secure his side a much-needed victory whilst throwing the title race wide open.

Frank Lampard confirmed that Ben Godfrey, Yerry Mina, Fabian Delph and Tom Davies are still unavailable for the Toffees for the visit of the Cityzens. However, he did say in his press conference that both Demarai Gray and Abdoulaye Doucouré had returned to full training but said a decision had not been made on whether to start them.

The Everton manager has not been able to call on the midfielder in his first four games as he had been out of action with a groin problem but hopes that he will feature at some point on Saturday.

It also remains to be seen whether Vitalii Mykolenko will feature for the Blues following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Everton have said that they will give the Ukrainian all the support and help that he needs but said that he had not yet asked for any.

There will also be a banner at Goodison showing support for the country of Ukraine and Mykolenko in what is surely an awful time for the 22-year-old.

Oleksandr Zinchenko is also Ukrainian and has undoubtedly been affected by what is happening in his home country. The left-back attended an anti-war vigil in Manchester on Thursday evening protesting against the invasion. Pep Guardiola has also said that the club will offer him their whole support but has said that he is ready to play.

The Spaniard also has a full-strength side at his disposal for the fixture, with only Cole Palmer a doubt with a foot injury.

One to watch – Everton

Despite being brought off at Southampton last weekend, Anthony Gordon has been Everton’s stand-out player over the past few weeks. Gordon, who turned twenty-one on Thursday, is likely the name every Evertonian wants to see on the team sheet every week. Something which was unimaginable at the start of the season.

The England under-21 international got another goal, albeit a deflection, against Leeds two weeks ago to add to his tally for the season. He has six goal involvements in his last nine games in all competitions (three goals, three assists), and has become the Toffees go to man this season.

According to WhoScored, Gordon’s strengths are his set-pieces and defensive contribution – something which has been noted for a few months.

However, at times he has shown a little ill-discipline, something which WhoScored have noted as a weakness in his game. There have been times when he has lost his head in games, and despite only having one booking this season, this could easily rise if he does not keep his head when he gets frustrated.

One to watch – Manchester City

Bernardo Silva has been one of the many stand-out performers for Manchester City this season. The Portuguese international has eight goal involvements in twenty-five appearances (seven goals, one assist), but it has been his work-rate
and his contributions towards City’s play that has caught the eye this season.

According to WhoScored, the 27-year-old has been the fifth best player in the Premier League this season, behind compatriot Joao Cancelo and Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mané.

And the City forward has a plethora of qualities, such as his dribbling, hold-up play and passing. All qualities that will undoubtedly cause the Everton defenders many problems. His aerial ability is not the best, but with the quality that Guardiola’s side have, they rarely play long balls and when they are pressed, they play effortlessly through the lines and advance up the pitch.

The Toffees are looking for their first win over Manchester City since January 2017, when they defeated City 4-0 at Goodison Park.

Gabriel Jesus is also back for Pep Guardiola’s side, and he has always been a thorn in Everton’s side. The Brazilian has eight goals in eight appearances against the Blues and will be looking to add to his tally if he features.

This fixture is important to both teams for different reasons. Everton need a win to move away from the relegation places, as they could be in them come 5:30. City need a win to maintain the gap between themselves and Liverpool.

A crucial fixture at both ends of the table, but even though Everton have won their two home games under Frank Lampard, it is difficult to see how they will win this.

Prediction: 0-2.

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