Edin Dzeko of Manchester City challenges as Tim Howard of Everton saves during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
After an encouraging performance against Fulham in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday, Toffee fans will be looking forward to tomorrow's Premier League fixture against Manchester City with more hope than they would have felt previous to that game. Meanwhile, City boss Roberto Mancini will be looking to put behind their League Cup exit at the hands of the red half of Merseyside behind them and consolidate their three-point lead at the top of the Premiership.
With the transfer deadline tomorrow as well, all eyes are on David Moyes to see what kind of talent he will be able to bring to Goodison Park under the financial constraints he has had placed upon him. Strikers Nikica Jelavic (Rangers, SPL), Kevin Doyle (Wolverhampton, EPL), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas, TSL) and wingers Nathan Redmond (Birmingham, ELC), Junior Hoilett (Blackburn, EPL) have all been linked with Everton but there's nothing concrete as yet. In the meantime, the players already at the club need to keep their focus on the game tomorrow and let management get on with their work.
While Everton have been able to post some excellent wins against City in the last few years, the earlier fixture at Etihad Stadium badly exposed the weak Everton lineup and City cruised to a 2-0 win. Fortunes haven't changed much for the Toffees since then while City have gone on to the head of the Premier League Table. Read the RBM Q&A with Danny from the City blog Bitter and Blue for more insights.
There should be one change to Everton's lengthy injury list with Jack Rodwell training again. If he is not ready to go, new transfer Darron Gibson could retain his holding role as defensive midfielder. Royston Drenthe and Louis Saha could return to the starting lineup after Magaye Gueye and Denis Stracqualursi had the start in the Fulham game.
City will be missing Mario Balotelli to a four-game suspension, while Kolo and Yaya Toure are away at African Nations' Cup duty. Striker Carlos Tevez remains missing in action. Captain Vincent Kompany will be back in defence after serving out his own four-game suspension.
Keys To The Game
Everton last lost to City at Goodison early in 2009. Since that time, all their wins over the Citizens have been results of hardworking games and converted chances. The same still applies. It does appear that Moyes has the inside track to getting into Mancini's head and will do well to shut City down in the middle of the park and cut off the supply to their multi-talented forward corps of Silva, Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri.
Mancini will be ecstatic at Kompany's return after Craig Bellamy of Liverpool absolutely terrorized the City defence last week. City have struggled relatively in the last few weeks, with their forward ranks not firing at the astonishing pace they had set at the beginning of the season. They have however, only let in two Premier league goals in their last five games.
We can expect another hard-fought midfield battle with City aiming to win the bulk of possession and utilizing a short passing game to free up hitman Dzeko in front of Tim Howard. Everton, meanwhile, will rely on quick counter attacks to swing crosses into the middle where they'll be hoping Saha and Tim Cahill can finish.
- Everton have won seven out of their last eight meetings with City.
- At Goodison Park, Everton have won only three of eleven fixtures this season.
- The Toffees have just two points from their last four Premiership games.
- City have won just three games since Christmas, getting knocked out of both Cup competitions.
- The Citizens' away record is only bettered by crosstown rivals Manchester United.
- City have scored 60 goals so far in the Premier League, matching their entire total from last season.