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Koeman: Key is what we do with the ball tomorrow

Manager’s comments ahead of tough trip to City

FC Twente v Everton FC - Preseason Friendly Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Everton face a tough early season test with a trip up M62 to the Etihad. Having played on Thursday in the Europa League playoff, the Monday night game will come all too soon and here’s what manager Ronald Koeman had to say about the game, starting with the opponent’s title chances.

“When we played Manchester City last season I mentioned that we were really lucky to get a point out of the game. On that day they played fantastic football and I spoke about them being big favourites for the league. After that they started to stumble. That’s football, you never know.

“It’s difficult to have predictions about who is the strongest after the first. After what I saw from different teams, I was impressed by what I saw from Manchester United on Sunday, I was impressed by City but maybe in two weeks or two months it can be different. That’s football but they are strong of course.”

On City fading away last season -

“I know, because I am a good friend of Pep (Guardiola), that the way he likes to play is the most difficult way. It’s really a pleasure to see his teams playing football, a high defence with lots of offensive players in the team.

“In the Premier League sometimes it’s strong and physical with set plays and they try to play with a high defence and there’s space behind. We know that and when we played City at home we punished them for that. I think City, because of the business they did last summer, are stronger than last year.”

Everton’s defence will be severely challenged tomorrow -

“If we keep a clean sheet this Monday, I don’t know if it will be a miracle but maybe. We are strong defensively, the team organisation is strong defensively but the key to getting a good result is what we do when we have the ball. From after the Hajduk Split game, that has been our preparation for Monday.”

The Blues struggled to move the ball against Stoke last weekend -

“I think you have different ways to play and okay we know we had all the preparation for Thursday, from then on we did what we thought is the best way to get a result against City.”

Wayne Rooney has played a few Manchester derbies in this stadium -

“It’s not the first time he will play against City in that stadium, he knows the reception he will get. He’s so experience he will not lose sleep because he knows. He likes that platform to play football.”

He finished off by talking about the Europa League -

“We like to be a part of Europe. I put a strong team out Thursday and the crowd, we had a full stadium, it means everything to the club to be a part of Europe. Everton have a history in Europe and if I don’t care about it, I wouldn’t speak about the second half.

“We like to be part of Europe, we know we still have 90-95 minutes to play and this is not done yet. Yes, we will do everything to get into Europe.”