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Everton at Manchester City: The Opposition View | Toffees’ toughest test yet

Everton won’t have easily forgotten their end-of-the-season annihilation

Manchester City v Everton - Premier League
Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City and Lucas Digne of Everton battle for the ball during the Premier League
Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

While Everton were able to get a point from Tottenham in the last match before the third international break, they will be looking to improve upon the form over the last month. The task is made more difficult coming back as the opponent is the defending Premier League champions, Manchester City.

The Toffees will look to take some revenge on the club that hammered them 5-0 in last season’s finale, while City will simply be looking to carry on mostly as they have been. For Everton, this will have to be accomplished without Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Abdoulaye Doucoure once more. Which team will ultimately find the result they are looking for?

Prior to Sunday’s game, we spoke to Saul Garcia, City fan and writer for their dedicated SB Nation page, Bitter and Blue:

RBM: Firstly, Manchester City have looked really strong this season thus far, even without the additional striking options that they were looking to acquire in the summer. How would you judge the current feeling around the club as December approaches?

The feeling around the club is pretty solid, this time last season we were drifting around 9th and now we are in the thick of it. City are even more so now, a well oiled and drilled team, the problem has been a lack of a finisher. Even with that City are in the top 5 of goals scored so I think we’ll be alright.

RBM: How would you say £100 million man Jack Grealish has fared alongside the rest of the talent at the club since he came to City from Aston Villa this previous summer?

Grealish has settled in pretty well, most new players to Pep’s system don’t. It usually takes a season or more so him being mostly comfortable already is a great sign. He probably won’t live up to that price tag but he can play well under this team and his versatility is why City signed him. He can play well just about everywhere Pep puts him and that’s been out wide so far.

RBM: City sit in second place right now, have the best possession stats paired with a really tight defence. What might they still improve upon as the season progresses?

Finishing and getting up for not so marquee matches. City when Ferran Torres gets back should improve on the first one as he has played and improved so much better in the last six months and seems to be the go to option up top as Gabriel Jesus settles in to a winger position. The second one may be trickier as City will play amazing one match and then lay a stinker vs Crystal palace. They have to be more energetic for all matches. Which I get is hard with them occurring at such a rapid pace.

Manchester City v Everton - Premier League
City’s staff celebrate last season’s Premier League title after disposing of Everton
Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

RBM: With Pep Guardiola already announcing that he will not extend his current contract, how important is it to win the Champions League this year after coming so close last season?

Incredibly important, he has two more cracks at this and he needs to get one. Much criticism of Pep is in his strict adherence to his principles and so if that costs City again or overthinks a massive match again he will have to answer for it. What’s interesting is City fans are really happy with him already, he’s brought near unimagined success and most fans are not so beholden to him getting that one UCL.

RBM: How do you expect City to set up on Sunday? How will City choose to control this game and nullify any threat Everton can pose?

City should play their usual 4-3-3 with some combo of De Bruyne, Gundogan, Rodri and Fernandinho. Grealish may be out with a knock so Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Foden in at the false nine seems most likely for Sunday. Typical City with focus on possession and smart passes will keep control of this match. For Everton, the main threat seems to be Richarlison so Ruben Dias and company should have their hands full, but Dias is one of the best in the world so I’m not worried.

RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Sunday’s match?

Predictions are difficult, but I can’t see City losing, so 2-0 to City. Thanks for having me, cheers.

Our thanks to Saul for his time.