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Everton at Manchester City: Match Preview | Struggling Toffees face near impossible

Frank Lampard’s side need something special to get anything from the Etihad

Manchester City v Everton - Premier League Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Everton end what has been a pretty miserable 2022 with a formidable trip to face champions Manchester City at the Etihad.

The Toffees head to Manchester in something of a crisis after that miserable 2-1 defeat to Wolves on Boxing Day.

They did not deserve to lose that game, for long periods it was a stalemate between two very poor sides. But a failure to take chances always left them open to a sucker punch, which is what happened in the 95th minute.

Everton FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Jack Thomas - WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images

That’s now four defeats on the spin and seven from the last nine in all competitions, leaving them just a point outside the drop zone. The team looked to be making genuine progress a couple of months ago but seem to have regressed to the levels we saw last spring, when relegation looked a near certainty.

Back then the fans put their anger at the club to one side and roared the team to what became a successful survival bid. It looks like they may have to do so again - though this time I’m not sure there is the same enthusiasm.

With the league looking as competitive as it has been in a long time, Everton are in real trouble.

The usual thing to do in such a situation is sack the manager. Frank Lampard’s record is not great I admit but would another change in the dugout solve all the team’s problems?

Whatever happens next month the board need to be decisive - either change manager early and back the new incumbent or back Lampard with the attacking players he needs.

Looking at the hierarchy's recent record I fear they will end up doing neither.

The opposition

Manchester City v Liverpool - Carabao Cup Fourth Round Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

What do you do when you have won the league four seasons out of five? You sign one of the world’s best strikers that’s what.

That’s what Manchester City have done, with superhuman striker Erling Haaland adding to an already fearsome squad.

Haaland looks and plays like a human cheat code, he has every attribute maxed out. The result is 20 league goals in just 14 games and talk of Dixie’s record possibly being under threat, something I never thought possible.

They do, however, have some work to do if they are to make it five leagues out of six, with Arsenal currently holding a five point lead at the top.

That means City have little margin for error, which spells bad news for Everton.

Previous meeting

Everton 0-1 Man City, February 26 2022

Everton v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Everton put in a brave performance against City back in February but were denied a point in controversial circumstances. City midfielder Rodri clearly handballed in the box but the referee and, inexplicably, VAR, failed to award the spot kick, meaning Phil Foden’s late strike was enough for the win.

Team news

Everton Training Session Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Dominic Calvert-Lewin is fit to return to the Everton squad after a knee injury but it remains to be seen whether he will be fit enough to start.

Conor Coady is available after he was ineligible against parent club Wolves, while Yerry Mina will be assessed after suffering a minor hamstring injury against Wolves.

What they said

Everton manager Frank Lampard: “We had our chances to win and it’s a cruel way to lose the game. I feel for the players in that sense because they give everything.

“But we have to bounce back. They don’t come tougher than what we have in front of us but at the same time, we can’t forget the good things we did in the game. We have to go with a sense of belief, pride and confidence.

“A goal like that at the end can change the whole feeling of the game, it’s very normal. It’s our job to see the football side of it very clearly. I think the players did everything we wanted against Wolves, barring scoring goals that should have put us in a more comfortable position.

“We needed to be more clinical. We know that has been a problem recently.”

Man City boss Pep Guardiola: “The last two games against Liverpool and Leeds were so demanding - the high pressing and intensity from both teams. We handled it well.

“I don’t know what Everton is going to do. If they defend deep we have to know how to handle that, the transition from Pickford is so fast.

“The quality is there - we have a feeling Everton have exceptional, really good players. In this period of the calendar it can be a problem. Just three days after the game against Leeds, which was so demanding. We have to be ready again.”

Final word

I have very little faith or belief in the team at the minute. If we get anything from this game it will be a miracle.

Avoiding a humiliation will be considered a result, which is very sad to say.