For one day, and one day only, the red half of Merseyside will be in an unfamiliar royal blue tomorrow when Everton host Manchester City – with the Citizens having the chance to overtake Liverpool at the top of the table
Everton’s season has come to an anticlimactic end due to defeats at home to Crystal Palace and away to Southampton which mean the Champions League place they were fighting for has all but gone. West Brom at home and Norwich away are the remaining fixtures for Arsenal and the Gunners only need to win one to ensure a seventeenth consecutive top four finish in the Premier League. A Champions League challenge looks to have concluded for the Blues but Tottenham, who are sixth, are only three points behind Everton. Even though Manchester United are nine points behind the Toffees, they have a game in hand – so there is still a fight for fifth.
Despite Spurs and Man. United hot on the Toffee’s tail there has been some talk between Evertonians that they would rather lose to Man. City and see Liverpool not win the league. In my opinion, wanting Everton to lose under any circumstance is not being an Everton supporter. Wanting another team to beat your own is something that belongs on the other side of Stanley Park.
Although Man. City have an almost perfect home record, away Manuel Pellegrini’s side haven’t been known for being as dominant. Having said that they now lie in fifth of the away table and it was actually their early away games at Aston Villa and Cardiff that defined this perception. The Citizens are currently third, three points off top spot with a game in hand on Liverpool and Chelsea. Vying for their second Premier League title in three years, City will be doing everything they can to win, to go back to the top, at Goodison – a ground they haven’t had much success in the past.
For the Toffees, Sylvain Distin is a doubt with a hamstring injury that ruled him out of last week’s loss to Southampton. Leighton Baines is thought to be fit enough to play despite being taken off in the final minute of that Southampton defeat with a leg injury. Skipper Phil Jagielka makes his long-awaited return to the Everton squad from a hamstring injury but it is unclear whether the centre-half will start. The Toffees will definitely be without Gareth Barry who is ineligible against his parent club. Roberto Martinez will again be without Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar, Darron Gibson, Arouna Kone, Bryan Oviedo and Lacina Traore. However forgotten man Apostolos Vellios makes his return to the Everton squad having been recalled from his loan at Blackpool.
The visitors have key man David Silva back fit again after recuperating from an ankle injury and he is line to start for the Citizens. However Manuel Pellegrini is still without pacey wide-man Jesus Navas who has his own ankle injury. City are also without Matija Nastasic who isn’t match fit having not played for three months because of a knee problem.
Goalkeepers: Howard and Robles
Defenders: Alcaraz, Baines, Browning, Coleman, Garbutt, Hibbert, Jagielka and Stones.
Midfielders: Barkley, Deulofeu, Ledson, McCarthy, McGeady, and Osman.
Forwards: Lukaku, Naismith and Vellios.
Goalkeepers: Hart and Pantilimon.
Defenders: Boyata, Clichy, Demichelis, Kolarov, Kompany, Lescott, Richards and Zabaleta.
Midfielders: Fernandinho, Garcia, Milner, Nasri, Rodwell, Silva and Toure.
Forwards: Aguero, Dzeko, Jovetic and Negredo.
Out of the last 13 Premier League games between the Everton and Manchester City, Everton have won nine.
City have won one of their last 15 visits to Goodison Park and lost their last four league games there.
Roberto Martinez has never beaten Manchester City in the league, and lost eight of his nine Premier League encounters with the Citizens.
The Blues are undefeated in 25 of their last 27 home games in the Premier League.
The Toffees have also scored at least two goals in eight of their last nine home matches in the league.
Out of the last five league games, Everton have kept three clean sheets.
From the last seven Premier League goals Pellegrini’s side have scored, six of them have come in the first half.
Since December, Man. City have taken more points away than any other Premier League team; with 27 points.
Yaya Toure is a goal away from becoming the second central midfielder to score 20 or more goals in a Premier League season – the other being Frank Lampard with 22 in the 2009/10 season.
Sergio Aguero has been subbed 47 times in the Premier League, more than any other player in the league in the period since his arrival.
The Argentine has scored just once in four league games when before that he had netted in each of five appearances consecutively.
Alvaro Negredo has not scored since returning from injury 14 games ago when before that he had scored 23 in 33 appearances in all competitions.
If you are one of those who want Everton to lose tomorrow, you are not an Everton supporter in my eyes. Twice, that I can remember, Liverpool supporters have wanted their team to lose so Man. Utd could not win the league. Maybe that is their way but it is not supporting your team and it is not the Everton way.