Venue: Goodison Park
Date: 15 January 2017
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Kick off: 13:30
It feels like an age since City’s last league outing. Our last game saw the Blues annihilate Slaven Bilić’s West Ham side on our first visit to the London Stadium. Before that though, Pep’s side were made to do things the hard way against a plucky Burnley side. City played the majority share of that game with ten men, but managed to get the job done. Tomorrow, it’s a visit to Goodison Park, a venue that City haven’t always prospered in. However, under Manuel Pellegrini, there were a couple of wins against the Toffees to savour. So, what is there to consider ahead of tomorrow?
City May Need to Weather a Storm
Historically, City have struggled at Goodison Park. Despite our form there picking up slightly in previous years, City don’t always produce their best in Liverpool. Why? Everton seem to really enjoy bringing their A-game for City. I’m not sure what it is, but whenever we go to Goodison it feels like a cauldron, one that we’ll be lucky to be escape from with three points. Tomorrow isn’t likely to be any different. The Toffees will be buoyed by the acquisition of Morgan Schneiderlin, on top of their usual willingness to scream City off the ball as soon as possible. If Pep and co. want to leave Merseyside with three points tomorrow, there needs to be plenty of calmness and possibly a period of strong resilience. I expect Everton to come flying out of the blocks, much like they did against Liverpool a few weeks ago. They will try to harry us off the ball, and sting us early. City need to be ready to weather that storm and wait for their own opportunity to pounce, much like Jurgen Klopp’s men did.
A Coming of Age for John Stones?
John Stones isn’t likely to get a particularly strong reception tomorrow afternoon and he needs to be ready for it. The Evertonians will be desperate to see Stones cost City the game, and will attempt to get right under the lad’s skin in an attempt to do so. It’s possible that Pep Guardiola will try to protect Stones from the potential hostility. If not, it’s a chance to see what Stones can do under pressure. He was superb against West Ham a week ago, and I think most of us would agree that we’d prefer to see what he can do tomorrow than Aleksandar Kolarov, who is lucky to still have a contract. Who knows, maybe the skipper, Vincent Kompany, will be ready for a return as a starter, though I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one if I was you. Personally, I’m hoping to see John Stones thrown in at the deep end and show everyone why we flashed the big bucks to bring him to City. His coming of age has to come one day, and what better time than tomorrow against his former club?
Yaya Toure, Raheem Sterling and David Silva Must Continue Where They Left Off
Against the Hammers last Friday, City were terrific. It was close to the complete performance. Five away goals, a clean sheet and a plethora of attacking football on show. Three players that caught the eye though were Toure, Sterling and Silva. All three contributed massively to the win in their own ways. Toure controlled the match, dictating both the pace of play and the direction too. He dropped off into a back three when City needed him most, and ventured further forward when it was appropriate. Raheem Sterling was direct. He gave West Ham’s defenders no respite and continually drove at them whenever he gained possession. His end product was pretty tidy too, with an assist to Silva. He was quite unlucky not to get on the scoresheet as well. David Silva turned in a performance that I must admit, I was starting to doubt he had left in him. He was everywhere. When our Spanish talisman plays like that, you often feel that teams will find it difficult to pinch the ball off us. Tomorrow will be a different challenge to West Ham, and in all honesty it’s likely to be a much more difficult one. If City are to emerge victorious, these three will play an integral role. With Yaya’s discipline, Sterling’s directness and Silva’s creativity, three points tomorrow might set City off on a run of wins that could catapult us back into the title picture.
For Everton, there are number of threats to consider on the attacking side of things. But I have to go with the obvious one. Romelu Lukaku’s pace and power can give any defence a run for its money, so City will need to be alert defensively. For City, I have to say that I think Raheem Sterling is just starting to find the kind of form that won many a doubter over at the start of the season, I’m expecting to see him have a good game.
Oddly, I’m feeling quite optimistic about tomorrow. I don’t think either side is all that defensively, and I believe that may well translate into goals galore. I’m going to go with 3-2 City. Aguero, Sterling and Toure to score.