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Manchester City vs Everton: Match Preview | Toffees face tough trip to the Etihad

The treble winners look to be hitting top form

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-EVERTON Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Everton face the daunting trip to the Etihad Stadium to take on a Manchester City side that are just looking to find their groove.

The Toffees are showing admirable batting qualities despite the weight of that 10-point deduction, a crippling injury list and a tough run of fixtures weighing heavy on their shoulders.

That spirit was demonstrated in last weekend’s game against Tottenham as they twice came from behind to earn a point against a side riding high in the top four.

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League - Goodison Park Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

Spurs clearly had the more creative players, but Everton’s rugged approach ensured the London club were never able to run away with the game.

It is those qualities that give me confidence that they have enough to avoid the drop, though things may get worse before they get better.

While Everton attempt to tame the treble winners in-form Luton host bottom club Sheffield United, meaning the Toffees could be four points adrift of safety by Saturday night.

There is then an eight-day gap before a hug game against Crystal Palace, by which time some of the key injured players could be back.

The result of the appeal against the points deduction may also be known by that point, giving Evertonians at least a little clarity as to where they stand.

The opposition

Brentford FC v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

There is never a good time to play Manchester City, but this feels like a particularly bad time. Pep Guardiola’s treble winners have had a few rocky spells this season, but look to be hitting form and fitness as they prepare for the final third of the season.

That is helped of course by the return to Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland, two of the best players on the planet, while Phil Foden is staking his claim as one of England’s brightest talents.

They have won nine of their last 12 games in all competitions, including the last nine, and have not dropped a point in the Premier League since conceding an 90th-minute penalty against Crystal Palace on 16 December.

City are also unbeaten in 13 Premier League meetings with Everton since that Tom Davies-inspired 4-0 thrashing in 2017.

They did, however, earn a draw last season thanks to a rocket of a shot from Demarai Gray.

Sean Dyche will be absent from the dugout for this game as he receives a one-match touchline ban for receiving yellow cards, with Ian Woan and Steve Stones directing proceedings pitchside.

Previous meeting

Everton 1-3 Man City, 27 December 2023

Everton FC v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Everton performed admirably against Manchester City when the sides last met at Goodison but were undone by a piece of magic, a controversial penalty and an individual mistake.

Jsck Harrison gave the Toffees a half-time lead only for a Foden thunderbolt to level the scores after the break. Amadou Onana was then unlucky to concede a penalty when the ball was smashed into his arm from close-range, with Julian Alvarez converting. Jordan Pickford then gifted possession while he was out of positing, allowing Bernardo Silva to finish the game late on.

Team news

Everton v Luton Town - Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Amadou Onana could return and bolster Everton’s thin midfield after recovering from a knee injury.

But Arnaut Danjuma, Andre Gomes and Abdoulaye Doucoure are all still sidelined.

What they said

Everton Press Conference Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Everton manager Sean Dyche: “They’ve got strength in depth. They’ve got strength in how they work, and they’re a great outfit, without a shadow of a doubt. But you take all these games on. That’s the mentality we want to continue to build here. No matter who you’re playing against, take it on with that clear mindedness to go to focus on you.

“They are in good form and can make many changes due to their squad depth. It is difficult, they are a very good side - we all know that. The mixture has got to be right; you have to defend well but play well and take your chances when they come your way.

“The Premier League is difficult, anyway. I think it’s fair to say after the past number of seasons that they have shown their prowess. They do the hard yards, as well. They work hard as well as being a fine football side. There is a lot of good to like about them, but you have got to play them all, so we certainly go there and take it on.”

Brentford FC v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Man City boss Pep Guardiola: “Since we are here, only one defeat [to Everton] but the better results have come away from home,” he said. “Last season we couldn’t win, but we will try to do our best.

“Continue what we have done in many years, results maybe not good but our level was more than decent because we were playing good.

“It’s quite similar. Tomorrow at 12:30 we play a football game so be ready.

“Since I arrived, Everton always took results here, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because they are good. We have to be ready.”

Final word

Let’s be real here, Everton need to play brilliantly, hope City have an off day and have the kind of luck they have rarely had this season to get a result. But last season showed it is possible and the team’s resilience this campaign means they are a tough team to beat. It is likely to rest on how long they can hold out before the first goal.