While the fans were still milling out of Goodison Park disappointed by the 1-1 draw against Arsenal on Wednesday, they were to be hit by the bombshell that Leighton Baines had a hamstring pull and could miss an undetermined period of time. This could completely change Everton's gameplan going into the game against Manchester City, who they have had previous success against thanks to an aggressive mindset by the Toffees. David Moyes will definitely have his work cut out against the defending Premier League champions who are yet to lose a game this season and have been getting into the scoring groove lately as well.
History however portends well for Everton, they have beaten City in eight of their last ten encounters, including City's last defeat at the Etihad, way back on Dec 20, 2010 when they were vanquished by the Toffees 2-1. Since then the Citizens have gone unbeaten in 36 games, including 33 wins and outscoring opponents 98-22 goals. However Roberto Mancini's furrowed brow has become a trademark usually during Everton games, especially after his admission that the last two losses against the Toffees came about because his side were ill-prepared for the game.
Team News -
We have heard little from Finch Farm apart from the news that Baines has a hammy strain and that Nikica Jelavić hasn't trained all week due to a virus he picked up. Kevin Mirallas didn't even make the bench last game but might play tomorrow. Phil Jagielka might be pressed into duty at left back if Baines is out, which would mean a John Heitinga - Sylvain Distin partnership in defence.
James Milner might miss out for City after aggravating his hamstring. Defenders Micah Richards and Gael Clichy both missed the Wednesday game, as did former Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell. Mancini has enough depth in the side to over come those losses though, to the extent that another former Everton backliner Joleon Lescott is to be loaned out in January, having been replaced by Serbian teenager Matija Nastasić in the middle of the defence.
Keys To The Game -
Everton have previously won against City after playing a high pressing game, cutting off the passing routes from defence to the midfield, and not giving the pacy forwards room to run. No reason why that shouldn't work again against the Citizens, but Everton's man-marking at the back will have to be better with any one of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Mario Balotelli capable of finding the net, multiple times.
For City, the path to success lies around Mancini, not through him. The man is perfectly capable of under- or over-coaching his side to the extent where they lose against Everton. Man-for-man, his side far outclasses the Toffees, but something about having the Glaswegian Moyes on the bench next to his drives him batty, and City go on to play the most discombobulated ninety minutes of football seen since Wimbledon were last in the Premiership.
Match Facts -
- Everton's away form has not been that great - 3W, 10D, and 4L in the last seventeen.
- The Toffees have scored 67% of their goals in the first half, a League high.
- Conversely, City have scored 74% of their goals in the second half, also a League high.
- Everton lead with the most shots on goal this season, 92. City are second with 91.
- Everton also have the unenviable record of conceding the most goals in the first 15 minutes - 6.
- City lead the League with the most goals conceded from outside the box - 5.
- The CItizens also lead the League with the fewest goals conceded - 10 in 14 games.