Exciting post-Christmas clash sees in form Everton and City sides face off
Manchester City to win 2-1
Manchester City are starting to gain some real momentum as the season nears the halfway mark.
The Skyblues sit 5th after their comfortable 2-0 win over Newcastle on Boxing Day and now look a team more in control of their destiny at both ends of the pitch.
City are scoring more goals than previously, though still have the lowest tally of any of the top nine teams, but now have by far the best defensive record in the league this season. With the league so bunched up right now, they’ll have their sights on closing that four-point gap to Liverpool at the top.
Everton found themselves leaping above both Leicester and Manchester United after those two drew in their clash, though The Toffees left it late to scrape past bottom of the table Sheffield United.
Nevertheless, both sides are in great form and this should be one of the clashes of the round.
Form Guide (all comps): WWWLW
Reasons to be cheerful:
Just one defeat from last seven matches
On four wins in a row for the second time this season
Reasons to be fearful:
Just 48 hours between matches is tough going
Richarlison and Rodriguez still unavailable
Although Everton have played a game more than Liverpool, after their win against Sheffield United they are now just two points behind their Merseyside rivals.
That has been the reward for their great form of late, winning four games on the bounce for the second time this season after going top right at the start of the campaign.
No other side in the league has won their last four matches and The Toffees have seen themselves jump from 9th to 2nd in that period.
This will be a stern test, however, against a City side who are so tight at the back despite not scoring with the same fluidity as in previous years. Everton will have been pleased to edge past Sheffield United, but they made tough work out of a team who will not be at the same level as City.
Star Man – Gylfi Sigurdsson
Has been directly involved in seven goals across 18 appearances this season, one more than in 38 matches last season.
Form Guide (all comps): DDWWW
Reasons to be cheerful
Best defensive record in the league shows improvement
Ferran Torres have cemented his place in the side
Reasons to be fearful
Scored 18 fewer goals than at this stage last season
Kyle Walker and Jesus out through Covid-19
This could be a season whereby Manchester City win matches, and potentially trophies, off the back of solid play rather than blasting teams off the field with their attacking firepower.
They have the tightest defensive in the league, conceding just 12 times in 14 games, and with 13 clean sheets in all competitions, have the highest shut-out rate of any top European side.
Guardiola will still want them to score more goals – at this stage of last season, they had 39 goals scored, 18 more than their current tally. However, the improvements made over the past month or so are there to be seen, with City slowly but surely creeping up the table to close that gap on Liverpool.
They will fancy their chances to continuing that here.
Star Man – Ferran Torres
Brought himself level as joint-top scorer for City this season (along with Sterling), by netting in the win over Newcastle.
Should be an even match with plenty of chances
Everton will continue to miss Richarlison
City are slight favourites
Unfortunately for Everton, Richarlison’s miss through concussion remains a problem for them – they really do lack creativity without the Brazilian forward.
Calvert-Lewin is excellent at scoring, but only if he gets the chances to do so.
City have a whole host of goalscorers, from Gundogan and De Bruyne in midfield, to Sterling, Mahrez and Torres up front.
They should have too much for Everton here.
Manchester City to win 2-1