After somewhat of a prolonged absence, I return this week as I preview Everton v Manchester City at Goodison Park on Saturday evening.
Ironically, my absence can be explained not just by the recent international break, but also by the fact I have spent the previous weeks engulfed in a stress-filled move from Liverpool to Manchester. Now behind enemy lines, my interest in Merseyside v Manchester match ups has increased that bit more.
Now, with no place to hide come Monday mornings, it is rather unfortunate for me that we invite the Champions-elect to Goodison this weekend. Manchester City have been nothing short of phenomenal this season. Pep’s men have obliterated almost all in their path and although the title is already a forgone conclusion with City sitting 16-points clear at the top, a win at Goodison this weekend does set up the prospect of securing the League Title at the home of their greatest rivals Manchester United next weekend.
A rampant Manchester City side eager for victory does spell trouble for any side this season, however if there is any solace to be taken, it’s that Manchester City for whatever reason, just don’t enjoy their trips to Merseyside. Perhaps it’s the fresh sea air coming from the West, or the bewilderment they have when seeing Scousers wearing clothes that won’t hit their wardrobes for another two years, but whatever it is, they tend to struggle. They haven’t won at Anfield since 2003 and whilst their record is improved at Goodison (naturally), they have only won three of their previous ten visits there. Proudly, it was Everton who provided Guardiola with his heaviest defeat in management when the Toffees obliterated City 4-0 in our game of the season last year at Goodison. Guardiola and his men also may have one eye on their massive Champions League game with Liverpool on Wednesday. For several reasons, there is a hope they have.
On paper, it’s a big seven days for Everton, with two big home games coming up. In reality, there is very little to play for in these games but pride, specifically next weekend. But our season is pretty much finished. Then again, we’re not sure it ever really started. There is an outside chance of finishing in the top seven, which would be some sort of redemption, however it certainly isn’t the type of dream that keeps us lying awake every night.
Instead Evertonians’ primary focus remains on the dugout. With the relief of securing 40 points achieved, many are calling for the Allardyce-era to be ended promptly. There is no doubt that Everton will never prosper with him in charge, however there seems little point changing manager again this season with very little to play for. There is an argument that Allardyce deserves some credit, however I am sure he has given himself plenty already, so I won’t bother. I am thankful he organised the side to an extent, he made us difficult to beat at home and I wish him well for the future, but not at this football club.
Sadly, Mason Holgate, Tom Davies and Idrissa Gueye won’t be fit for Saturday, whist Gylfi Sigurdsson is still out for at least a fortnight. Our new Turkish Prince Cenk Tosun will be looking to make it five goals in four games and there may even be an opportunity for Klaassen to feature, although you would expect Allardyce to drop the 4-3-3 deployed at Stoke and instead look to pack out the Midfield and frustrate City. It’s a tactic that has been tried and failed by so many this season. With nothing to lose, I would like to see us set-up to have a go at Manchester City. With a much bigger game on the horizon for them on Wednesday night, we may just catch City off-guard.
I’m not expecting much but I am hopeful, do your best Toffees! – David (@DAHughes92)