In an effort to somehow repeat their thrashing of Brighton & Hove Albion on Bank Holiday Monday, Everton will welcome the Premier League champions Manchester City to Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon.
Prior to the visitors’ 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal, Sean Dyche’s team astonished the football world by thrashing Brighton 5-1 earlier this week.
When Everton traveled to high flying Brighton on Monday night and defeated the Seagulls 5-1, they made a significant step toward Premier League (PL) survival. They hadn’t scored five goals on the road since Boxing Day of last year, and manager Sean Dyche will be hoping it’s a sign of his attack picking back up after a season in which they have only scored multiple goals in one Premier League home game.
Everton escaped the bottom three thanks to that victory, and they will now enter the gameweek two points above the danger zone. Maintaining this positive attitude against the reigning champions Manchester City appears to be a difficult task, but the Toffees delivered another attacking masterwork and hammered Pep Guardiola’s team for four without answering in a memorable victory back in 2017.
Everton’s last victory over Man City came in that match, and since then, Man City has dominated this H2H by winning ten of the previous 12 competitive encounters. They have also won ten straight Premier League games going into this match, a feat that Guardiola has now accomplished five times. No other manager in the history of the league has amassed as many 10 more game winning streaks.
However, given that this matchup is sandwiched between two critical Champions League semifinal games, City won’t have an easy task on their hands. The tie against Real Madrid is still very much in doubt as a result of their midweek 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabéu; therefore, we might see a number of changes from the away team in an effort to add fresh legs before the second leg. Although Guardiola just has a one point advantage over Arsenal at the top, he might also be concerned about stopping the momentum.
No Everton player since 2016/17 has managed more PL assists than main playmaker Alex Iwobi’s eight this season. In a similar strong run for City, Riyad Mahrez has four assists in his previous three Premier League games. He also helped set up Erling Haaland’s goal in the reverse (1-1) game.
At the Amex, Everton had a nearly faultless afternoon with no new injury concerns, and they received some positive news regarding Seamus Coleman’s problem, which is not the possibly career ending ACL issue that was initially suggested.
Coleman has already been ruled out for the remainder of the season, but his teammates Andros Townsend (knee), Dele Alli (groin), Ben Godfrey (groin), and Ruben Vinagre (calf) are accompanying him in the hospital.
After Monday’s outstanding performance, Dyche will undoubtedly see no reason to change the harmony of his starting lineup. In addition, if Alex Iwobi notches an eighth assist on Sunday, the former Arsenal player will set a new Premier League single season record for Nigerian players.
Nathan Ake was unable to travel because of the thigh injury he sustained in the victory against Leeds, but Guardiola made no substitutions for Man City at the Bernabeu. All 11 of his starts were successful.
The length of Ake’s potential absence is still unknown, but the Dutchman shouldn’t be risked for the trip to Merseyside because the visitors are certain to make numerous changes with the Champions League in mind. Guardiola claims that Ake is feeling “much better” now.
The entire Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Julian Alvarez, Aymeric Laporte, and Rico Lewis will be strong candidates to make the starting XI, and periphery players Kalvin Phillips and Sergio Gomez might even get a look.
Everton possible starting lineup
Pickford, Patterson, Tarkowski, Mina, Mykolenko, Iwobi, Garner, Gueye, Doucoure, McNeil and Calvert-Lewin.
Manchester City possible starting lineup
Ederson, Akanji, Dias, Laporte, Lewis, Rodri, Mahrez, Alvarez, Foden, Grealish and Haaland.
Our scoreline prediction is Everton 1-2 Manchester City
An Everton team on top of the world can make this a much closer game than it might first look to be on paper, especially with Dyche’s team consistently finding the back of the net. The iconic “Pep roulette” is guaranteed to come into play.
The Toffees will benefit from their fond memories of the Etihad draw in December, but Guardiola can bring in the cavalry if things start to go wrong. A Man City team that is still in the thick of the two horses race for the title should manage to scrape out a hard fought victory to hold off Arsenal.