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Manchester City v Everton - Match Preview

Last week's Capital One Cup win gave Everton fans a new hope, but will City strike back in the second match of their mid-winter trilogy?

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It’s part two of our January trilogy with Manchester City as we head to the Etihad Stadium with Premier League points at stake.

After the joys of last week’s Capital One Cup semi-final first leg win at Goodison, this "difficult" second game seems something of a distraction, with supporters eager to see the side finish the job secure a place at Wembley.

However, with Everton’s patchy festive form seeing them plummet down the league table the Toffees cannot afford to get distracted by their cup exploits.

The Blues have slumped down to 11th place and could fall further with defeat on Wednesday. The nine points separating themselves and the Champions League places is already beginning to look insurmountable, the result of a run of just one win from their last seven league games.

The opposition

Manchester City have a formidable record at the Etihad Stadium this season, with eight wins and just two defeats from 10 Premier League games so far, racking up 29 goals in the process.

They have also won their last five home games in all competitions and head into the match on the back on Saturday’s comfortable 3-0 FA Cup win at Norwich.

Despite that impressive record there is a definite sense of fallibility around the team despite yet another summer of heavy investment by billionaire owner Shiekh Mansour..

Injured have played a key role in that, with the continued absence of captain Vincent Kompany a key loss. City are a different side without the Belgian, with Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis inadequate replacements.

The speculation surrounding manager Manuel Pellegrini is not helping matters either. Pellegrini has a world-weary look about him anyway but the Chilean has looked particularly exasperated this campaign as rumours regarding Pep Guardiola continue to swirl around the club.

Guardiola is widely expected to join City in the summer after confirming he is to leave Bayern Munich, regardless of how Pellegrini fares this year.

That said Wednesday’s game still represents one of Everton’s toughest away assignments of the season, especially as it comes in the midst of a hectic run of seven games in 25 days.

Team news

Roberto Martinez was given a boost with the news that Romelu Lukaku was fit to return to training after a ankle knock suffered against City in last week’s League Cup win.

Ramiro Funes Mori is also available despite needing 10 stitches in a head injury suffered against Dag & Red at the weekend.

Tom Cleverley is doubtful with a calf injury while James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman definitely miss out. That should mean a Premier League return for Phil Jagielka, who made his comeback from a knee injury in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Tim Howard will also return, with Martinez remaining doggedly insistent that the American will not be dropped despite his shaky recent form.

As well as captain Kompany, Man City will be without Wilfried Bony, Fernandinho, Eliaquim Mangala and Samir Nasri.

Final word

While next week’s semi-final is likely to be Everton’s priority, Pellegrini will probably prioritise the league encounter as he looks to keep his side in touch with pace-setters Arsenal and Leicester (is still sounds weird writing that).

To that end, expect to see a full strength City side and one that will be looking to respond to last week’s Goodison defeat and lay down a marker ahead of next week’s second leg.

Everton, though, have a decent record on the road this season, losing just once against Arsenal, so certainly have enough in them to grab at least a point.

Predicted starting XI: Howard, Stones Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines, Barry, Besic, Cleverley, Barkley, Deulofeu, Lukaku.