Manchester City travel to Everton on Saturday seeking the first of three victories that would almost certainly secure them the Premier League title (17:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Everton come into the match on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Southampton that all but ended their hopes of securing Champions League football for next season. They are fifth, four points behind Arsenal in fourth, with 69 points from 20 wins, nine draws and seven defeats.
The Toffees were two down within the opening half hour last weekend, with own goals from Antolin Alcaraz and Seamus Coleman gifting Southampton an advantage they never looked likely to relinquish. It was a second loss in three matches for Everton, defeats that have undone the good work of their convincing 3-0 victory over Arsenal at the start of April.
Despite the fact that a top four finish now looks out of reach, Roberto Martinez can look back fondly on an excellent first season at the club. His side have accumulated Everton’s highest points total of the Premier League era and have done so while playing attractive passing football. The number of minutes given to young players has increased in comparison to last season.
Everton are a neat, well-organised side in and out of possession. They have the joint second-best defensive record in the league and the sixth best scoring record. The physicality of Romelo Lukaku, pace of Kevin Mirallas and direct dribbling of Ross Barkley (pictured), along with the strong overlaps of full-backs Coleman and Leighton Baines, provide ample goal threat.
Martinez has a long injury list to contend with at this late stage of the season. He will definitely be without Arouna Kone (knee), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg), Darron Gibson (knee) Lacina Traore (hamstring) and Mirallas (groin), while Baines (knee), Phil Jagielka (hamstring), Steven Pienaar (knee) and Sylvain Distin (hamstring) are doubtful. Gareth Barry, on loan from Man City, cannot play due to the terms of his loan agreement.
City travel to Goodison Park on the back of a 2-0 win away to Crystal Palace. They are third in the Premier League table, three points behind leaders Liverpool, with 77 points from 24 wins, five draws and six defeats. They have a game in hand on both Liverpool and second-placed Chelsea.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side overcame a tricky opponent last weekend, defeating a Palace side who had won each of their previous five league matches. Edin Dzeko gave them an early lead, Yaya Toure doubled it just before half time and City controlled proceedings thereafter to take home the three points. They are now in the driving seat for the Premier League title.
While Liverpool have excelled in attack and Chelsea in defence, Man City have struck a good balance between the two. They boast the second best scoring record and joint second-best defensive record in the division, although it must be noted that their attacking numbers are closer to Liverpool’s than their defensive numbers are to Chelsea’s.
Pellegrini’s side have played attacking, possession-based football, with two strikers (generally from Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero), two attacking midfielders (from David Silva, James Milner, Jesus Navas and Samir Nasri) and two central midfielders, in Fernandinho and Toure, who are comfortable stepping forward to join attacks.
Man City have no definite injury absentees for this match, although Matija Nastasic (knee), Navas (ankle) and Silva (ankle) will all face late fitness tests. Reports suggest that Silva is the most likely of the trio to return this weekend.
Everton v Man City Betting Tips Advice
ManCity were 3-1 winners when these sides met in the league at the Etihad earlier this season, but have a poor record in recent visits to Merseyside. Everton have won each of the last four league matches between the sides at Goodison Park, including a 2-0 victory in last season’s equivalent fixture. City have won just once in their last 15 matches away to Everton.
Everton are now highly unlikely to overhaul Arsenal for fourth and with their participation in next season’s Europa League not under serious threat from behind, have little more than pride to play for on Saturday. In many ways, a defeat may be preferable, given that a draw or win would give local rivals Liverpool the upper hand over City in the title race.
City will finish level on points with Liverpool if they both win their remaining matches, but currently have eight goal advantage when it comes to goal difference, a deficit that it is improbable Liverpool will overcome in two matches. Everton are sure to give them a honest contest, but we believe that City’s additional quality in the final third will take them to victory.
- Back Man City to win @ 3/4 with Coral, BetVictor, SkyBet, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power.
- City have scored within the first half hour in eight of their last 10 away matches and 28 times in total in the course of the season. They always look to start quickly away from home and have the requisite firepower to suggest an early goal is likely. Back 0-30 minutes in the ‘time of first Man City goal’ market @ 6/5 with William Hill.