Manchester City were shorn of their sheen of invincibility by defeat at Chelsea last weekend but will be expected to get back to winning ways at home to Everton on Saturday (12:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Reigning Premier League champions Man City began the season in undefeated fashion, with 13 wins and two draws powered by top-line and underlying statistics that were even more impressive than those of their record-breaking campaign of the previous year.
Pep Guardiola’s side remain the clear, odds-on favourites with the bookmakers to claim this year’s title, but their grip on top spot has been at least temporarily wrestled away from them by Liverpool, who moved up into first place following City’s 0-2 defeat at Chelsea last weekend.
It would perhaps be foolish to read too much into that loss. It was a pretty even encounter, in which both sides created some presentable chances. Chelsea did a good job of more or less limiting City while not completely nullifying their own attacking intentions. They then took their chances in a match in which City were unable to do so.
It was the sort of result that can happen when you come up against a good team who plays well on the day. Given that City had already secured victory away at Tottenham Hotspur and a draw at Anfield against Liverpool, it is certainly unlikely to be indicative of any particular underlying weakness – certainly not one than anyone but the very top clubs could exploit.
The truth is that even if you have a coach as successful as Guardiola on whose behalf you have invested a net £450 million, you cannot control every possible variable. Man City are as close to a perfect team as we have seen in the Premier League era and one of the best sides in Europe but that doesn’t make them immune to the odd bad result.
Saturday’s opponents Everton have clearly not spent anywhere near the sums invested by City, but they have still been the Premier League’s third highest spenders over the course of the last three seasons, with a net outlay of nearly £178 million.
That hasn’t, however, resulted in them getting much closer to breaking into the top six. An 11th place finish in 2015-16 was followed by a promising seventh in Ronald Koeman’s first campaign at the helm, only for Everton to drop back to eighth last time around. That is a full 14 points off Arsenal in sixth, after sacking Koeman early into the season and seeing out the campaign under the stewardship of Sam Allardyce.
The entire footballing structure was renovated this summer in an attempt to bring a bit of focus to the operation. Marcel Brands was recruited from PSV Eindhoven as director of football and former Hull and Watford boss Marco Silva was hired as head coach.
Silva’s arrival has brought improvement. A team who conceded 14 goals more than they scored last season are running a positive goal difference this time around, driven by gains at both ends of the pitch. Everton have, though, suffered from the inconsistency that should perhaps be expected from a team still accustoming themselves to their new coach’s demands.
Everton have drawn as many as they have won so far this season and travel to Manchester on the back of consecutive draws at home to Newcastle and Watford. The latter, on Monday, was a back-and-forth encounter in which Everton went ahead through Richarlison, saw their advantage overturned in a two-minute spell just past the hour mark and then rescued a point thanks to Lucas Digne’s injury time equaliser.
They have, though, at least been relatively competitive against top-six sides so far this season. One-goal defeats to Liverpool and Manchester United were bettered by a 0-0 draw away at Chelsea. Indeed, only Arsenal have beaten them by more than a single goal, in a 0-2 reverse earlier in the season.
Our Preview’s Man City vs. Everton Betting Tips Verdict
Everton are unlikely to get anything from Saturday’s match but neither are they likely to be embarrassed.
Man City can be expected to emerge victorious, but there looks to be better value in backing Everton on the Asian Handicap market than in applying a handicap to their hosts.
- Bet on Everton +1.5 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 11/8 with Unibet.