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Everton at Manchester City: Q&A with Bitter & Blue

Everton face a tricky trip to the Etihad this Saturday, after a poor week for league results. We spoke with Nayir from @Bitter_and_Blue about this weekend's game, also what he had to say on the Barkley saga.

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I’m back and the Q&A’s are back! They guys couldn’t keep me away! So what better place to start than a dodgy trip to Manchester City? Well, I’ll answer that! I could think of a million and one teams I’d visit other than a firing City side, coming up against our not-so-firing Everton side. But isn’t that why we support the Blues? We’re born the underdogs and hopefully we can go and play like we’ve seen this Everton team do in the not-so-distant past!

I asked Nayir of our fellow SB Nation site Bitter and Blue (the name sounds like it could be an Everton fan page! but isn’t) the following questions ahead of the clash at the Etihad.

So, Nayir, as you may know Everton and Man City have always put on a good show in recent years, there is usually goals. Very rarely however, have we come to the Etihad and won! The last time was back in 2010 when we ran out 2-1 winners on a bitterly cold December night! City's form has been patchy this season what do you put that down to?

I think it was a combination of poor form, bad luck, and lack of confidence. For a long stretch nothing was clicking and the team's play lacked cohesion across the park. The reasons for this have been debated all season long by City fans (certainly on Bitter & Blue anyways). It seems that the fanbase had been split between blaming the manager for poor tactics and the players for poor effort and play. If you ask me, it was more about the players, and that's being found out on our recent winning run. Manuel Pellegrini hasn't strayed much from his tactical base, but our results have been much better. Why? Because key players have stepped up, and the belief is back. Now it will hopefully stay this way.

It's well known that Manchester City are interested in buying Ross Barkley either in the January transfer window or in the summer. I personally, don't think we will sell for anything less than £60mil, do you think that is something you'd pay for an unproven player with potential to be great?

I can't see City paying that much for him at this time. The club also don't have much of a track record of buying players in the January window (last one was Edin Dzeko in 2010) so that's probably ruled out. There will be time to reevaluate in the summer, and CM will certainly be a position that's looked at as Yaya Toure ages. Given the threat of Financial Fair Play these days, I don't believe City are yet at a stage to spend so much on one player the way Real Madrid and Barcelona can. I'd love to have Barkley but certainly not at that price.

If Barkley was to become a City player where could you see him fitting in? They have had this habit of letting young English talent come and take little part in games and then leave, for example Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair.

If he were to come in the summer, his first season would probably see less starts than he might like, but I think that would change as Toure's legs begin to slow down. City don't have many domestic-homegrown players on roster, as we all know, so Barkley could be a useful solution in that regard. However, given the amount of seemingly promising youth coming up in the academy these days, we'll have to revisit the homegrown needs in the summer. I don't know if comparing him to Rodwell and Sinclair is fair since both of those players seemed to be panic buys late in the summer 2012 window when we missed out on other targets. That and, Barkley is certainly more promising than they ever were.

Everton are shaky at the moment with two key players on the injury list in James McCarthy and Steven Naismith. What do you expect from the Toffees on Saturday?

Everton seem like they haven't hit their prime form yet this season, and some of the fire from last season isn't there in full at the moment. That being said, they're still a well-coached squad that run their socks off and 9 times out of 10 will display a more energetic performance than City. I expect that energy to be there from the first kick again. The key for City will be remaining organized and controlling possession to dictate the flow of the game. I would assume that Roberto Martinez has spent all week devising a plan to attempt to blanket Sergio Aguero, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out.

I think it is typical Everton, to only manage a draw against Hull at home to then travel to somewhere like City and possibly come away with something! That might just be me being hopeful but I'm going for a 2-2 draw... What is your score prediction?

I'm going to predict a 3-1 City win. Normally against Everton I'd be less optimistic but the team looks to be back in the scintillating form that brought us the title last season, and Aguero looks absolutely unstoppable at the moment.

Finally, enjoy the game, hopefully if you win it isn't by many! If Everton were to win who would you see as being man of the match and if City were to win who can you see being the figurehead for the victory?

I think it would be one of the fullbacks. Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines are obviously very good players and they'll have a lot of work to do with the way City operate on the wings. Given City's reliance on width coming from the fullbacks and interplay/overlapping runs between Jesus Navas and Pablo Zabaleta, shutting down the corridors should be a key for Everton, especially as I see the middle of the park going in City's favor.