Venue: Etihad Stadium
Date: 15 October 2016
Referee: Michael Oliver
Kick off: 15:00
UK TV: Not on TV.
In our last game, a trip to North London meant a rare visit back to reality for City. The game against Tottenham unfortunately gave Pep Guardiola his first chance to identify some weaknesses in his side.
Tomorrow, City face off against Everton. Another tricky opponent. If ever there was a time that you might want to avoid playing a decent looking Ronald Koeman side, it’s probably now. So, what are the main topics of discussion in the build-up to the game?
Areas of Frailty
In a way, losing the game at Spurs was no massive disaster. Granted, City were awful. But, it gave Pep Guardiola a chance to really start assessing where this squad is devastatingly frail. Both full-backs were taken apart a fortnight ago, and it doesn’t bode well for City when the opponent has any kind of quality going down the flanks. In all honesty, Pablo Zabaleta has looked finished for a year or two. He has looked much stronger in the earlier parts of this season. However, his limitations are becoming more and more obvious as his pace dwindles. It’s absolutely no surprise to see City linked to the extremely impressive Hector Bellerin this week. A player that would fit right into Pep’s system, Bellerin would be close to defining a dream buy this summer. On the other side, Aleksander Kolarov had his second ‘mare of the week. After a calamitous mistake against Celtic, Kolarov put through his own net against Spurs and never really recovered after that. Perhaps it is too early to judge the Serbian shooter, but his position in the side is already starting to look increasingly under threat.
A Recovery is Vital
If ever there was a time to squash the wrong kind of momentum, it’s tomorrow. City haven’t won in two games, and whilst that is absolutely no disaster, they could really do with a win against the Toffees to stop the minor rot. If City were to fail to win tomorrow, questions would start to be asked of us (if they’re not already). A draw away at Celtic Park is by no means a catastrophe, and to lose to a very strong Spurs side is equally understandable. However, the manner of City’s performance in London suggests that standards may be slipping. Of course, what better chance to prove everyone wrong than to record a strong victory at home to a very decent side this weekend. Everton are no slouches, and will have plenty of firepower in their pursuit of at least a point. But, if City play even half as well as they did in the first ten games, everything should be fine. At this junction in the season though, tomorrow’s game looks surprisingly seasoned with importance.
A Returning Nolito
This might surprise a few people, but I’m far from Nolito’s biggest fan. He’s a workhorse, but I think his quality in the final third often lacks majorly. His performance in Glasgow was poor, and that was despite a vital equaliser. However, no matter how many times he gives the ball away, I’m not sure that we are any better without him. City are in a bit of a dangerous place at the moment. An over reliance on certain players has already began, and oddly that includes the Spaniard. Without Nolito, a start for Jesus Navas is never too far, and whilst I can abide Navas, he isn’t good enough to play in the bigger games. Raheem Sterling was pushed out left against Tottenham, and looked completely ineffective. Granted, this isn’t Nolito’s fault. In all honesty though, his three game suspension was. It was foolish and petulant. And the knock-on effect of that suspension showed, especially away at Tottenham. His return on Saturday is a welcome one. Though, I’d like to see more quality in the final third and the sort of attitude that got him sent off against West Ham completely cut out before his lack of discipline costs us points.
Who Can Hurt Us?
Whilst I think he can be a touch hit and miss, Romelu Lukaku is an absolute monster when he starts firing. There were questions earlier in the week about his fitness, but I’m expecting the Belgian to start. If he does, City will need to be alert from set pieces and do their upmost not to present Lukaku with any clear cut chances, as he’ll likely gobble them up.
City’s bounce-back ability hasn’t really been tested yet this season. Tomorrow, it surely will be. I’m expecting a very tough game, and without Kevin De Bruyne I actually envisage some genuine problems in securing a result. As it is, I’ll plump for 2-1 City, with a fairly late winner.
Predict the score:
[statsfc-score-predictor key=”D8SJIk7F6vySBuDaFQRSHy11xfbyCt18uXRinj2b” team=”Man City” date=”2016-10-15″ default_css=”true”]