Everton travel to Manchester City on Monday for a tough early-season challenge in the Premier League - here are three things to keep an eye out for.
Can Everton put together a full 90 minute performance?
We’ve seen Everton play brilliantly at times this year. We’ve also seen Everton look a bit dodgy. But it is early in the season and these things are understandable. The problem is that an excellent performance can’t include some poor play this week.
In every competitive match this year Everton has at least had one spell of 15-20 minutes where everyone seemed to turn off. In some matches, like Thursday’s Europa League win, it will happen because of how comfortable the players get. But it can’t happen like it did against Stoke. If Everton can’t put in a full shift of 90 minutes any hope of three points, and really even one, are going to be lost.
The next couple of matches are brutal for Everton and holding onto as many points as possible early will be key. With the right result and performance against City it could buoy the players into better performances in September.
Will Everton be able to handle Manchester City’s speed?
Manchester City is fast in attack. Their attacking speed is something that would even impress Usain Bolt. Everton’s defense, not so fast. This could be a little problem, especially if Everton gets caught in transition and has to backtrack quickly. Pep Guardiola is trying to institute his system at City, but even without it he has a stable of players that excel on the ball playing quick combinations to spring the forwards and wide players. We don’t need to see Sergio Agüero going up against Leighton Baines at full sprint. That isn’t good for 3 points and it isn’t good for the health of any fan.
What happens to Everton’s attack against a quality defense?
We’ve seen some good and bad with Everton’s attack. Even without a true proven striker (no, Wayne Rooney does not count) Everton has shown an ability to generate chances. The problem is that the team has generated these chances against inferior sides or teams that want to give us possession. Now we have a Manchester City side that wants the ball and has the quality in defense to take it from the Toffees. Opportunities are going to be few and far between in this one and it is going to be critical for Everton to maximize their opportunities. Wasteful shots into Row Z aren’t going to be as easy to shrug off in this one.