Manchester City and Everton have both suffered some rocky form over the last few months in the league and when the two teams meet at the Etihad on Wednesday night it is unpredictable as to which versions of each team will show up. City took a trip to East Anglia and defeated Norwich in a comfortable victory, just a week after a late pair of goals earned them the victory against Watford. The Manchester side will be hoping to use this as a statement after Everton defeated the Sky Blues a week to the day before this Premier League encounter. The Capital One Cup semi-final first leg ended in a 2-1 victory for Roberto Martinez’s team thanks to a winner from Romelu Lukaku.
This trip for Everton is just as important for their confidence as Manchester City’s. The Toffees have had a sticky season and will hope to sweeten it up with a trip to Wembley in the league cup. The team’s attacking prowess has been fantastic but their openness has led to issues at the back. This was highlighted perfectly in their recent 4-3 defeat at home to Stoke City, as well as the 3-3 draw at Bournemouth back in November. Everton have all the signs of a Roberto Martinez side, with neat passing and solid attacking play but a lack of emphasis on the defensive side of things – which was the downfall for Wigan when he was relegated with his former club. Admittedly, his playing staff is a higher level than with the Latics but the patterns are very similar in terms of conceding goals and being very open. It certainly makes for great viewing for neutral fans but it won’t be too comforting for the blue half of Merseyside.
Captain Vincent Kompany remains out for the home team with Wilfried Bony and Eliaquim Mangala facing late tests. Sergio Aguero is available to play.
For Everton, Romelu Lukaku is a doubt with an ankle injury, whilst Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy are both sidelined. Ramiro Funes Mori and Tom Cleverly are also doubts.
The two teams will meet for the second of three games this January after picking up one win a piece of the two fixtures they’ve already played this season. The two sides have met historically a whopping 162 times with both teams very even, only separated by three wins in City’s favour. Manchester City have largely dominated the recent years with Everton’s 2-1 win at Goodison in the league cup last week being first victory over the Citizens since 2013 when they earned a 2-0 win in the Premier League. There have usually been plenty of goals as well, both teams scoring an average of over 1.3 goals per game.
Raheem Sterling – This game could be a big opportunity for Sterling to test himself against some of England’s other top young players and prove to Roy Hodgson that he will be integral for the European Championships. A big win here could also give City the boost that they need to rejuvenate their title challenge. With rivals Arsenal facing Liverpool, there could well be an opportunity to give the Gunners a scare. Sterling will be very important for City to stretch Everton’s defence and allow space for players like Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva.
Ross Barkley – The England starlet has been very influential in creating Everton’s attacking flair along with Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu. If Barkley can get going and create some chances for his teammates he could prove the deciding factor in this fixture. A win here could breathe new life into Everton’s European hopes.
I am predicting over 2.5 goals in this one, both defences have been fairly leaky but they have each had success in the attacking third. This is the second instalment of the January trilogy and I think it will give the victors the upper hand in two weeks’ time for the second leg of the cup semi-final.
I predict a 3-1 win for Manchester City.