Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton at the Etihad Stadium last season in the equivalent fixture to Saturday’s, after Kyle Walker’s first half red card.
With a tough midweek game just gone and a number of injuries, Pep Guardiola’s men will have to be focused and work hard to overcome a very capable Everton side who are in seventh place and within reach of the European spots.
The schedule is getting no easier for City with a Carabao Cup quarter-final tie with Leicester coming up on Tuesday, but Guardiola will certainly prioritise this game above that.
With that in mind, it’s time to try and predict the starting lineup once more!
The big, biiiig news from Guardiola’s press conference on Friday was that both Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have trained pain-free and are in contention. We have to temper our expectations slightly here, as Guardiola said they could play a part, not that they will.
In the non-embargoed portion of his presser, Guardiola offered no injury updates on Fernandinho and Danilo, but did say John Stones has trained. We know David Silva is out for a few weeks, while Claudio Bravo and Benjamin Mendy are longer term absentees.
Ederson was fantastic against Hoffenheim, pulling off some crucial saves that reminded us of his shot-stopping ability. Hopefully against Everton he’ll be stood on the edge of his box looking bored as City press the Toffees back.
In defence, Kyle Walker played only half of the match in midweek to preserve him for this one and will start. Is Stones fit after his ‘little problem’ against Hoffenheim? Guardiola said he has trained, therefore we’re guessing Aymeric Laporte and John Stones will resume their solid partnership in the heart of City’s defence. Neither of City’s left-backs standing in for the injured Mendy have been particularly impressive of late, but we’re going with Fabian Delph to start.
With Pep also having said nothing about Fernandinho, we again have to guess – and our prediction is that he’s good to go after missing the Hoffenheim game with a thigh problem. Also in the midfield, we expect Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva to start, as it may be too soon to play De Bruyne from the off. Phil Foden most likely won’t start but can expect another 90 minutes against Leicester in the Carabao Cup next week.
Leroy Sané was the UEFA Champions League Player of the Week and we hope to see him start again, with Raheem Sterling on the opposite flank.
That leaves the striker position, with Guardiola non-committal on if our Argentine icon will start. Given that his injury was less severe than KDB’s, we’re going with Sergio Aguero to lead the line ahead of the misfiring, if slightly unlucky, Gabriel Jesus.
City’s bench should look stronger on Saturday, looking something like: Aro Muric, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Nicolas Otamendi, Phil Foden, (ohh!) Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus.