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Everton vs Manchester City: The Opposition View

We spoke to writer and City podcaster Ger Deegan before Wednesday night’s Goodison clash

Manchester City v Everton FC - Premier League
Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored in Everton’s 3-1 defeat at Man City in December
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Liverpool will be hoping for a favour from neighbours Everton in the Premier League title race when second-placed Manchester City visit Goodison Park on Wednesday.

City, who amassed a record 100 points in their procession to the title last season, trail the Reds by three points with 13 games remaining, and arrive at Goodison on the back of Sunday’s 3-1 home win over Arsenal.

Everton’s poor recent run continued by being comfortably beaten by Wolverhampton on Saturday, and have lost their last two fixtures against Pep Guardiola’s men by a 3-1 scoreline.

Prior to Wednesday’s match, we spoke to football writer Ger Deegan (@GerraDeegan), who also blogs for and co-hosts a podcast at SB Nation’s City site, Bitter and Blue:

RBM: When we spoke before the reverse fixture in December, City trailed Liverpool by one point. Now three behind the Reds, is your confidence in City retaining the title still high?

Ger: I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s definitely going to happen because Liverpool are a brilliant side and they have shown for the majority of this season that they are good enough to win it.

But after the last few results, it’s looking much more achievable now for us. I’m keeping faith in this team after what they achieved last season.

RBM: What pleased you most about Sunday’s win over Arsenal?

Ger: I think we looked ourselves again. There’s no doubting that there was questions asked when the starting line-ups got announced after a bad result up in Newcastle United [2-1 defeat], but there wasn’t any point in the game when I felt we were going to lose it.

It was similar to the Manchester United game [3-1 win] in a way where we kept playing our way throughout and won it comfortably enough in the end.

Manchester City v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Sergio Agüero hit a hat-trick in City’s win on Sunday
Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

RBM: City have now won nine of their 10 matches since the Boxing Day defeat at Leicester. Do you think the upturn in form is down more to a tactical tweak by Guardiola, or a change in mentality?

Ger: I don’t think Guardiola has changed much tactically, to be honest. He is always looking to dominate the ball but we weren’t taking our chances and killing teams off when we had the chances to do so.

The period of bad form over Christmas coincided with the injury to Fernandinho and I don’t think that is a coincidence. He is crucial to our style of play and replacing him will be a much bigger job than I think most fans of other clubs will realise.

RBM: Guardiola spoke last week of his wariness at City’s busy fixture list, with City, unlike Liverpool, still in the two domestic cup competitions. Do you worry this could take its toll on the squad?

Ger: I actually think the opposite. We have a big enough squad, more than capable of going competing in all competitions.

On the contrary, I think being knocked out of the FA Cup has hindered Liverpool quite badly. While we are playing competitive games, they’ve been training and waiting around to go again in the league. which doesn’t seem to have helped their momentum.

Newcastle United v Manchester City - Premier League
City fell to an unexpected defeat at Newcastle United last week
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

RBM: If Everton are to hurt City, what areas of the pitch should they target?

Ger: It’s as clear as day that we have a problem at left-back. Benjamin Mendy has gone off the face of the earth and Danilo and Fabian Delph have been inconsistent there all season.

If Everton are to get some joy out of us, then I’d expect Marco Silva to target that area of the pitch with the pace of Theo Walcott or even Ademola Lookman, who has impressed when given an opportunity.

RBM: After Liverpool’s draw at West Ham on Monday, City can go top, at least temporarily, with victory on Wednesday. Do you expect this to change the way Guardiola sets City up at Goodison?

Ger: Guardiola won’t change. For me, this is a must-win. We’ve been given yet another lifeline and there’s no margin for error anymore. I’d expect 4-3-3 as normal with the usual suspects of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sané and Sergio Agüero leading the line.

Manchester City v Everton FC - Premier League
Sterling scored in City’s 3-1 victory over Everton in December
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

RBM: On current form, which of City’s players look likeliest to cause Everton problems?

Ger: Sterling has been excellent all season and is improving year on year. If he can expose Seamus Coleman down that side then I think he will get some joy.

Obviously, Agüero is in fantastic form once again this season and he will no doubt be sniffing around to add to Sunday’s hat-trick.

RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Wednesday’s game?

Ger: It would be so like Everton to win this and hand the title to Liverpool wouldn’t it?

We have an awful record at Goodison but as I mentioned before, this is a must-win game. We cannot afford any more slip ups and I think Guardiola and the squad know this. I’m going to go with 2-0 for City.

All the best for the rest of the season and try and stick with Silva. He will get it right with time.

Our thanks to Ger for his time.