Man City will be hopeful of keeping the pressure on local rivals United at the Premier League’s summit when they host stuttering Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (3pm GMT).
City are the only remaining undefeated team in the division and are second in the table, just a point shy of leaders United with nine wins and five draws to their credit. Roberto Mancini’s men were 2-0 victors away at Wigan in midweek, two goals in three second half minutes from Mario Balotelli and James Milner giving them the three points against a determined home side.
City have been held to goalless stalemates in each of their previous two away matches and have, in total, drawn four times away from home so far this season. It has been a very different story at the Etihad, however, where they have dropped just two points, winning six of seven, scoring 18 and conceding just five.
It is at home that flashes of the swagger with which City regularly brushed aside opponents in last season’s title-winning campaign have been apparent. That fluidity has often been missing though and Mancini will want to get his side back in gear ahead of the visit of United in their next home match.
There has been a certain staleness to City’s performances this season, with their new signings doing little to inject renewed purpose into the side. Matija Nastasic has been composed and impressive in central defence, but midfielders Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell have offered little, and winger Scott Sinclair has often been relegated to a watching brief.
The talent is still there – in Carlos Tevez, David Silva and Sergio Aguero they have three pint-sized magicians that any other club in the division would gladly make space for – but the feeling remains that City are yet to raise their performances to the levels they are capable of.
Everton began the season with victory over City’s title rivals United and then went on to record a further three victories in their next five matches, putting them right up there at the top of the table in the early stages of the season. Just one win in the subsequent eight matches has seen them fall down to sixth and left manager David Moyes pondering how to change things round in the run up to Christmas.
Everton drew 1-1 at home to Arsenal on Wednesday. It was their seventh draw of the season – the joint-highest number in the league – and their sixth in their last eight matches. It was also the seventh occasion this season on which they have conceded the first goal of the match, an on-going problem that Moyes needs to resolve.
The Toffees have shown good spirit and determination to fight back and pick up ten points after conceding first, but cannot consistently provide such advantages to their opponents.
Not only have Everton been conceding the first goal of the match too regularly, but they have also conceded 90th minute equalisers on three separate occasions this season. If they hope to make a realistic challenge for a top four place such defensive sloppiness will have to be eradicated sooner rather than later.
Defence aside, Moyes’ men have performed well this season, scoring more goals a game on average (1.71 to 1.32) than during last season’s seventh place finish. With the aerial prowess of Marouane Fellaini, the work-rate and scoring of Nikica Jelavic and the combination play between Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar, Everton have the ability to pose a threat to any team.
Moyes will be without the tricky Belgian winger Kevin Mirallas, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury, and Phil Neville, out until the end of the January with a knee. City are missing defenders Micah Richards and Gael Clichy through injury.
Man City v Everton Betting Tips Conclusion
City are the favourites to emerge victorious from this fixture. They have an excellent home record and attacking options that can be fancied to score against an Everton backline who have made a habit of conceding sloppy goals.
Everton, though, will not make things easy for their hosts and we do not expect there to be much of a margin between the sides come the final whistle.
- Everton have only once lost by more than a single goal this season and have the necessary ability and determination to limit City to a meagre margin of victory. Back Everton +1.5 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 5/9 with Pinnacle.
- City have scored first in all but one of their home matches so far this season, while Everton have made a habit of conceding first. Therefore, back Manchester City to score first @ 9/20 with BetVictor.