Has the build-up to an Everton match ever been so pessimistic as has the last few days leading up to their upcoming clash with free-scoring Manchester City?
After a grim 2-1 defeat to bottom-of-the-table Wolves on Boxing Day, this is far from the next fixture Frank Lampard would have chosen for his side to try and turn their fortunes around.
Pep Guardiola’s side have scored over three times as many goals as the Toffees have in the Premier League this season.
With the Blues shy in front of goal, surely it will be a case of damage limitation on their visit to the Etihad on the final day of 2022?
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been dominating the headlines this week with Lampard confirming the centre-forward is available to face City.
But the question remains over whether starting him so soon is the wisest option, particularly in a match where goalscoring opportunities for the Toffees are likely to be few and far between.
Therefore, the most likely scenario is Neal Maupay will continue to lead the forward line for the Blues and Calvert-Lewin will be given the start against the Frenchman’s old side Brighton on January 3.
Questions also persist over Everton’s central defence options after Yerry Mina started against Wolves and found the net before being forced off with cramp.
Ben Godfrey was chosen to replace the Colombian but with Conor Coady once again available, it’s likely he will once again be restored alongside James Tarkowski.
Whichever pair is chosen, they will have a particularly difficult task on their hands at the Etihad.
One to watch – Erling Haaland
While’s City 43 league goals this season dwarfs Everton’s 12, their leading striker Erling Haaland has 20 to his name alone.
The Norwegian has hit the ground running more dramatically than anyone could have predicted after his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.
He continued where he left off before the break for the World Cup, scoring twice in City’s 3-1 win over Leeds on December 28.
His pace, power and off-the-ball movement make him near impossible for defenders to contain and is the last thing Evertonians will want to watch their side attempt to contend with.
One to watch – Idrissa Gueye
In the midst of a hugely disappointing Boxing Day defeat, Idrissa Gueye stood out as Everton’s top performer.
The Senegalese international seemed to cover more ground than any of his teammates and was inexplicably brought off in the 83rd minute with many Evertonians claiming this decision potentially cost their side a point.
He will have his work cut out for him containing Man City’s star-studded midfield alongside Amadou Onana and in the unlikely circumstance that that Everton take anything from the game, it will almost certainly take a big performance from the former PSG man.
As touched on before, the general feeling leading up to this encounter could not be more negative from Everton’s perspective.
Another relegation battle seems on the horizon for the club and a heavy defeat to the defending champions would only deflate the fanbase further.
Even a spirited performance that restricts the Citizens to a mere one or two goal victory would most likely be viewed in a somewhat positive light.