Everton make the trip to the Etihad stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Blues face Manchester City at 14:00, looking to build on their good display against Tottenham Hotspur before the international break.
Rafa Benitez’s side were much improved against Antonio Conte’s Tottenham, and perhaps they should have had all three points.
Some questionable refereeing from Chris Kavanagh, awarding Everton a penalty when Richarlison had a free shot at an open goal, then taking away the penalty after he judged Hugo Lloris got a hand on the ball, cost the Blues their first win in five games.
Manchester City on the other hand, were very impressive in their defeat of Manchester United. Pep Guardiola’s side dominated from the first minute and had sixteen shots to United’s five. They also limited Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side to just one touch in their penalty box.
However, in their last home game, the Manchester side struggled against Patrick Viera’s Crystal Palace and fell to a 0-2 home defeat. The only other team to stop the Cityzens winning at home were Southampton, demonstrating how tough the task will be tomorrow.
The Sky Blues are without a number of key players tomorrow. Kevin De Bruyne has been ruled out of tomorrow’s fixture after testing positive for Covid-19. Jack Grealish is also out, whilst Ferran Torres is still recovering from a foot injury and is expected to be back in January.
Phil Foden is also a doubt for Guardiola, meaning that City’s squad depth is sure to be tested this weekend.
Everton are still without key first-team players Yerry Mina, Abdoulaye Doucouré, André Gomes and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Although they could be back soon, with Doucouré apparently one-two weeks away, and Calvert-Lewin two-three, just in time for the Merseyside Derby.
Rafa Benitez is also without midfielder Tom Davies who has sustained a knee injury, and Mason Holgate who was sent off in the final minutes of the draw against Spurs.
One to Watch – Manchester City
Fullback João Cancelo has been pivotal to City’s early success this season. The Portuguese has made 862 passes in the League this season, the most of any player before this round of fixtures.
In an attacking sense, he has been sensational, having twenty-six shots – two fewer than fellow Portuguese internationals Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes. Whilst only registering two assists in the League, he got a hattrick in City’s last Champions League game against Club Brugge.
The 27-year-old also has an average rating of 7.35 in the Premier League from WhoScored and has many strengths. They include his passing, dribbling, ball interception and his tackling, meaning that he is a very well-rounded player.
His main weakness however is his discipline. Cancelo has picked up three yellow cards this season, and WhoScored have his style of play as committing fouls often. Whilst displaying plenty of attacking threat, the fullback is certainly someone Everton can get at and trouble defensively.
One to Watch – Everton
Midfielder Fabian Delph has been impressive for the Blues since returning from injury. An impressive forty-five minutes against Wolves and sixty minutes against Tottenham gave Everton’s midfield something that had been missing since Doucouré’s injury.
The former City player was crucial in Everton’s improvement against Wolves and their dominance against Tottenham a couple of weeks ago. He received a standing ovation from the Goodison faithful after his impressive performance, something which seemed impossible a few months ago.
The 31-year-old has an average rating so far of 6.64, impressive given that he has only made one start and two substitute appearances. WhoScored note his strengths are his passing, dribbling, whilst his holding onto the ball is considered very strong.
His discipline is what lets him down, which has been shown quite often in an Everton shirt. When he gets booked, it is always anticipated that he will get a second yellow. Going down to ten-men is something the Toffees cannot afford tomorrow.
The task to get a result tomorrow is a tough one, as Everton have not beaten Manchester City since January 2017. A 4-0 home win in Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge, with a sensational goal from Tom Davies.
The Blues have lost their last eight games against the Sky Blues, by an aggregate score of 23-5. The last fixture was a 5-0 defeat at the Etihad, Carlo Ancelotti’s last game.
Striker Gabriel Jesus loves playing against Everton as well. The Brazilian has eight goals in his last eight games against Rafa Benitez’s side and he will be looking to continue his good run tomorrow.
Given Everton’s recent record against Manchester City, it is hard to see how they will get a result.
Although both teams have strength in depth, City still have world-class players they can rely on, whilst the Toffees cannot fill the bench some weeks.